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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The Biden administration is bringing about a readiness crisis and “ideological purge” in the U.S. Armed Forces via its COVID-19 vaccine mandates, three Republican lawmakers argue in a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“If 75,000 soldiers are discharged, it begs the question whether the Army will be able to replace them,” argues the letter by U.S. Reps. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas, which was obtained by Breitbart News. “At the very end of the fiscal year, the Army has only met 52% of its FY22 recruiting goal. How will it recruit another 75,000 troops beyond its annual target to account for vaccine-related discharges?”

“The Department has abused the trust and good faith of loyal servicemembers by handling vaccine exemptions in a sluggish and disingenuous manner,” and by treating the comparative few who do receive exemptions like “second class soldiers,” alleges the letter, which was co-signed by 54 other Republican lawmakers and

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 40 percent of men aged 18-24 years old have refused vaccination for Covid-19,” they argue. “In the Southern United States, an area responsible for half of the nation’s enlistments, that number is over 50 percent. Off the bat, your vaccine mandate disqualifies more than 40 percent of the Army’s target demographic from service nationwide, and over half of the individuals in the most fertile recruiting grounds.”

“In the past, you have insisted the Covid-19 vaccine mandate is an imperative for readiness, but increasing amounts of data raise legitimate questions about your assertion,” they note. “We also know that natural immunity provides better protection against infection and death than existing Covid vaccines, yet the Department still refuses to recognize it in lieu of vaccination.”

Last August, at the direction of President Joe Biden, 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.

In the Army, the approval rate for religious exemptions so far stands at just one percent, while the approval rate for medical exemptions is only slightly higher at three percent. By contrast, in December the military began discharging soldiers for refusing the shots. The discharges have prompted legal challenges that have so far been neglected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

These 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.”

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 and development time before being put into widespread use than the COVID shots received during their accelerated clinical trials under former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative.

In March, it was found that 11,289 cases of pericarditis/myocarditis after COVID vaccination were reported to the U.S. government’s federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) between January 1 and February 25 of this year, which was already 47% of the 24,177 reports for the same submitted in all of 2021. An April study out of Israel indicates that COVID infection alone cannot account for such cases, despite claims to the contrary.

COVID shot defenders claim that VAERS offers an exaggerated view of a vaccine’s potential risks, as anyone can submit a report without vetting it, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention researchers have acknowledged “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.

Further, 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%).

U.S. service members facing medical coercion over the COVID-19 shots or denied effective treatment can apply for Medical Freedom Fund Grants with the medical freedom nonprofit Truth for Health Foundation by clicking here.