A U.S. Army soldier who was fired last year for refusing a COVID vaccine has been forced to pay back his signing bonus, totaling thousands of dollars, the veteran claims.
At the Biden administration’s direction, the Defense Department discharged more than 8,400 troops from the military, including some 3,300 Marines, 1,800 soldiers, 1,800 sailors, and 900 airmen who chose to decline the vaccine.
“I’ve deployed multiple times, and I feel like the last thing I had was selling leave days that I earned and was never able to take due to me being deployed or needing that time to prepare for the training cycle,” the service member told Fox News Digital. “I was about to enter a new world with no income, and that extra bit would have been a nice buffer in my rainy day fund to keep me afloat until I was able to find new employment.”
The soldier received a $7,000 bonus when he signed up to serve in the U.S. Army for six years. After he was canned for refusing the vaccine, he was reportedly notified by the U.S. Military that he had to pay back $4,000, a prorated figure of the bonus. The veteran said he was forced to sell 60 of his unused vacation days to make up for the debt.
“The appalling treatment these individuals endured broke the trust that is owed to our citizens and our volunteers. America’s sons and daughters,” the Army member said in a statement. “Until true efforts are made to establish trust, the recruiting and retention shortfalls will only continue. The individuals who make public statements that they are unsure what has contributed to the current recruiting and retention shortfalls need to take a look in the mirror; and perhaps they should resign for the betterment of our Nation.”
Another service member slammed the Department of Defense for falling short “on reestablishing trust for wrongdoings,” calling the signing bonus pay-back “icing on the cake.”
The Daily Wire reached out to the Department of Defense but did not immediately receive a response.
Pentagon officials finally ended the coronavirus vaccine mandate for the U.S. Military, which was instituted in August 2021, after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) forced an end to the program after Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin earlier this month signed a memo that will update records and remove letters of reprimand from troops whose exemption requests to the vaccine were denied, Fox noted.
Brandon Drey contributed to this report.