According to documents obtained by Daily Caller News Foundation, the Coast Guard had prepared justifications for denial of COVID-19 exemption requests.
The justifications differ depending on the Coast Guard member who requested an exemption and the station he or she was stationed at. However, each of the 30 mentioned follows a similar pattern. Each one highlights the operational requirements of each position and explains why vaccination is required. Although the DCNF was unable to determine how exemption cases were decided, the document shows that they did not consider each applicant’s unique circumstances. This is a violation Coast Guard policy, according to experts.
Dwight Stirling (ex-military attorney and founder of Center for Law and Military Policy) explained that all the commander has to do is sign the memo and it’s done.
Coast Guard policy is designed to protect First Amendment rights. Leaders must review each exemption request individually, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act states that armed forces must show a “compelling desire” to overrule religious accommodations.
Mike Rose, general counsel of Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in The Services, stated that he couldn’t confirm whether the Coast Guard used the document to violate policy. He did however agree that the document appears to include pre-written statements, “designed to automatically be applied to each Coast Guardsman based on their assignment.”
One of the reasons, directed at Angela McShan, a CGC Angela McShan cook, reads: “I also considered you are assigned to a operational billet.” “Your role as senior Culinary Specialist requires that you interact with the crew frequently in small, enclosed spaces that don’t allow for social distance according to the Center for Disease Control guidelines.”
This document includes a separate section titled “COVID-19 & Other Requests”, which provides responses to multiple religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination.
First, Coast Guard members request to be exempted from future vaccines derived from mRNA and viral vector technology. These vaccines are the most popular in COVID-19.
“The Coast Guard can’t predict what vaccines will be required in the future and which vaccines will be created with viral vector technology or mRNA.” Because of the nature of your request, it has been denied.” The document is boldfaced with the words “It is denied”
It also includes language for commanders who deny religious exemptions to any COVID-19 vaccination: “I am an adjudic authority for religious accommodation requests pursuant (d)”, it says.
“I have carefully reviewed your request according to references (d-f). It concludes with the last sentence in boldface.
The language in the document is not intended to allow an exemption request to be approved.
A Coast Guard spokesperson stated that 12 of the 1,350 requests for religious accommodation received since August 2021’s mandate was in effect, and eight permanent medical exemptions were approved by the Coast Guard.
Rose stated that “Giving commanders suggested reasons that might justify denial of exemption from the vaccine for an individual case might not have been wrong and could be justified legal advice.” It would be illegal and unconstitutional to deny exemptions without considering the individual circumstances, and then to use pre-prepared statements to support those denials.
Stirling explained that military lawyers often copy and paste memos and briefs from their clients.
He said that while we don’t know if the Coast Guard commanders prejudged exemption cases, it wouldn’t surprise to learn that they did. “It is easy for a commander not to see the draft language and have a closed mind,” he said.
The authenticity of the document was confirmed by House Oversight Committee Republicans. They said they had received a similar document but didn’t respond to further questions about its contents. It was created in August 2022, according to the metadata.
After an investigation by the Oversight Republicans, the Coast Guard was placed under scrutiny. The Coast Guard used a computer-based program consisting of drop-down lists with premade answers for sections on the appeal response form to issue mass denials or religious accommodations. Fox News first reported this.
But, lawmakers claimed that the Coast Guard intentionally set up the exemption request review system to “arrive at predetermined conclusions with a goal of rejecting applicants” in a letter addressed to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan.
A Coast Guard spokesperson stated that every request was subject to an individual review and analysis, in accordance with Coast Guard policy and law.
The Department of Defense (DOD), officially nullified Tuesday’s military vaccine mandate. While the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security it has followed DOD guidance regarding COVID-19.