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(LifeSiteNews) – Refusing a COVID-19 vaccine was a “no-brainer” despite the career ramifications, says former U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bradley Miller.

In October 2021, Miller was relieved of his position as battalion commander in the 101st Airborne Division for not taking the mandatory shot and opted to resign completely the following January.

“I was very well aware of the ramifications my decision would have for my command, my career, and my retirement,” Miller told American Family News in comments published Tuesday. “But in my mind, I was placed in a situation where I had to choose the harder right over the easier wrong.”

He lamented being forced to “either choose the Army or choose the country,” and that in his view “far too many leaders of the military have turned their back on the country,” despite the fact that “the Armed Forces exist to protect the country – it’s not the other way around.”

Despite losing not only his career but his retirement pension, Miller said “there’s not a day that has gone by where I have ever regretted the decision that I made […] It felt like my continued service would have constituted an unspoken endorsement of everything that was going on [surrounding the military vaccine mandate] – and I was not going to have that. My values no longer aligned with the values of the senior leadership of the Department of Defense.”

Last August, at the direction of President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the secretaries of all military branches to “immediately begin full [COVID] vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces” and “impose ambitious timelines for implementation.” The majority of service members complied, but tens of thousands remain unvaccinated, with many seeking exemptions.

The vast majority of exemption requests have been denied, and last December the military began discharging soldiers for refusing the shots, prompting legal challenges that have so far been neglected by the U.S. Supreme Court. While litigation is ongoing, such lawsuits did get the Navy and Marine Corps to start rolling back penalties for service members seeking religious accommodations in September.

Many Americans in and out of the military harbor moral and practical reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines, given the use of aborted fetal cells in their development, the superiority of natural immunity, COVID’s low risk to most otherwise-healthy individuals, the vaccines’ failure to prevent infection, their accelerated development under former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative giving them only a fraction of the evaluation and development time vaccines normally take, the lack of transparency from their manufacturers, and mounting evidence of serious adverse effects.

The U.S. government’s federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports 35,523 myocarditis and pericarditis cases as of November 18. An April study out of Israel indicates that COVID infection alone cannot account for such cases, despite claims to the contrary. Reports submitted to VAERS about possible side effects are unconfirmed, as anyone can submit a report, but CDC researchers recognize a “high verification rate of reports of myocarditis to VAERS after mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination,” leading to the conclusion that “under-reporting is more likely” than over-reporting.

VAERS is not the only data source indicating cause for concern. Data from the Pentagon’s Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) has been similarly alarming, showing that 2021 saw drastic spikes in a variety of diagnoses for serious medical issues over the previous five-year average, including hypertension (2,181%), neurological disorders (1,048%), multiple sclerosis (680%), Guillain-Barre syndrome (551%), breast cancer, (487%), female infertility (472%), pulmonary embolism (468%), migraines (452%), ovarian dysfunction (437%), testicular cancer (369%), and tachycardia (302%).

In September, the Japanese Society for Vaccinology published a peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers from Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Maryland, which found that the “Pfizer trial exhibited a 36% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group” while the “Moderna trial exhibited a 6% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group,” for a combined “16% higher risk of serious adverse events in mRNA vaccine recipients.”

While defenders of vaccine mandates are quick to stress that the military has long required soldiers to vaccinate against a range of diseases due to the harsh and exotic locales soldiers are sent to for extended periods of time and the close quarters they typically share with one another, previous vaccines were typically subjected to far more evaluation before being put into widespread use than the COVID shots.

“There seemed to be a lot of information that was not forthcoming with these shots,” Miller told AFN. “It made no sense to try to give everyone the shots without any prior testing or any data on long-term effects. And as time went on it just seemed very apparent to me that there was some sort of ulterior motive or ultimate agenda at hand.”

The vaccine mandates are particularly challenging for the military, as mass purges of qualified fighting men and women threaten soldier and pilot shortages in the tens of thousands, which only adds to broader problems of military readiness, troop morale, and public confidence.

During a Pentagon press briefing in April on the Army’s budget for Fiscal Year 2023, Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo announced the Army had “proactively made a decision to temporarily reduce our end strength from 485,000 soldiers to 476,000 in FY ’22, and 473,000 in FY ’23.” Military Times reported at the time that this “could leave the service at its smallest size since 1940, when it had just over 269,000 troops.”

Comments to AFN by a current servicemember speaking anonymously indicate that Miller’s departure is a golden example of such losses.

“Lt. Col. Miller threw away his pension for his ideals,” said the individual, identified by the pseudonym Danny Erickson. “He didn’t broadcast it but did it quietly. [To me] Miller’s story is about selfless sacrifice, [because] he wasn’t going to be a commander who subjected his troops to something while looking for ways to protect himself, and he wasn’t going to continue working for an organization whose morals didn’t align with his own.”

“Losing soldiers like Lt. Col. Miller will continue to deplete our military of leaders who do the right thing, no matter the cost,” Erickson added. “In a business where your job can call you to take someone’s life, it’s critical we maintain leadership that will take the hard right and not simply toe the line when ordered to do something unethical or illegal.”