Retired Coast Guardsmen are denied benefits because of religious objections

U.S. Coast Guard personnel who served nearly 20 years but did not comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to religious objections are now being terminated before they can fully access their promised military pensions and benefits.

One veteran, Chris Harkins, was officially discharged on December 1 after serving exactly 19 years in the USCG. He was ordered to retire on January 1, 2024 and accrued maximum vacation days from the end of June 2023. However, it was revealed just seven months before he would have passed the 20-year mark for lifetime leave. monthly stipend, he was fired for refusing to be vaccinated because of his sincere religious beliefs.

“Based on your decision not to receive the mandatory covid vaccine as ordered, you have been processed for separation (discharge),” Fox News Digital said in an Oct. 20 email to Harkins. “Your pension orders are being canceled as of 10 US Code 1176 (a CG member does not apply). There is no safe harbor for a CG member with 18 or more years of TIS. [time in service],” the email continued.

Harkins, most recently stationed in Juneau, Alaska, managed secret locations and communications for the 2-star admiral. He said he’s seen more serious disciplinary action against other service members, including child sexual abuse charges, reaching the 20-year mark and receiving full benefits.

Chris Harkins officially retired on December 1st after exactly 19 years of service with the USCG.
FOX News

However, Harkins, who has had an unblemished record and zero negative comments in any ratings or reviews for nearly two decades, is no longer welcome.

“I felt it was targeted by senior officers,” he explained, calling it a “passive-aggressive type of punishment,” saying, “We’re going to put you in a corner here until you comply with the mandate.” re-evicted,” essentially,” he said.

One former service member told Fox News Digital that it’s shocking that the military would deny service members hard-earned benefits for 20 years of seeking religious accommodation for vaccinations. He said the military often allows service members to retire in their 20s and receive their full benefits despite allegations of insubordination, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Chris Harkins.
Harkins’ Coast Guard retirement benefits were terminated because he did not receive a required COVID-19 vaccine.
FOX News

The the military suffers from under-recruitment and conservation, in large part due to its restrictive policies, including vaccine requirements.

The active-duty guard, who received an intent-to-leave notice from the USCG after nearly 19 years of service, told Fox News Digital he expects to officially separate, which could happen any day now.

“It’s not about readiness, as they say, it’s about compliance,” the guard said. “They’re like, ‘Is this really necessary?’ they don’t want to look objectively at the facts. They just want yes men, and if you’re not a yes man, they’ll treat you like an alcoholic or a DUI or a probationer, or worse. drugs or something like that.”

Chris Harkins.
Harkins called the military unit’s response a “passive-aggressive form of punishment.”
FOX News

He said his faith and family will carry him as he waits to hear back from the USCG on his separation date.

Another active duty guard who served nearly 16 years and whose father was in the USCG said he was due to be discharged in June 2023.

“Considering all my qualifications, CG HQ agreed to allow me to remain as an unvaccinated member for 8 months as they desperately need me. As an unvaccinated serviceman, I continued to perform my duty and 4 I will continue to serve faithfully to the best of my ability until I am discharged or allowed to retire after 2015. I mean, the military I joined 15 years ago, respected and dreamed of by many, is now a shell ‘i’, he told Fox News Digital.

In November, Paula Runyon, who served 15.5 years, told Fox News Digital, “I’m heartbroken because I love my job, I loved being a warehouseman, and I love serving in the Coast Guard. I loved it. Unfortunately, the way I was treated, I will never go back.”

Christopher Collins, who served in the USCG for 11.5 years before being discharged in November, said: “The pressure this ordeal has put on my wife, my child and my newborn baby is something we will be dealing with for years to come.”

The USCG did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

The Coast Guard previously told Fox News Digital that “no member of the Coast Guard has been disciplined for seeking a religious accommodation from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement,” and that any member without an approved exemption request confirmed that it is in the process of being exhausted.

Harkins called the USCG’s move akin to a “cleansing” of moral Christians seeking religious privileges.

“The Coast Guard has been shoving diversity, inclusion and equity down our throats for the past decade,” Harkins said. “Where is diversity, inclusion and equality now? This is because we are Christians and we are not part of another community. So it really feels like a cleansing of moral, ethical, Christian people.

As for next steps, “We will continue to press the lawsuit,” Harkins said.

Harkins is involved in a large class action lawsuit that will have its first hearing on Dec. 15 in Galveston, Texas.


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