WASHINGTON — John Frankman formerly served as a captain in the U.S. Army as a Green Beret. But after a years-long struggle to stand up for his religious beliefs in a battle against the military’s vaccine mandate, Frankman made the choice to voluntarily separate from the Army in July.
Now he’s sharing his story. In an interview with The Daily Signal, Frankman said that he thinks he was punished for asking for a religious exemption to the coronavirus vaccine mandate.
“The policies that were in place from higher up were meant to punish those service members that didn’t conform,” he said.
His religious exemption, which Frankman says he requested in October 2021, went answered, ultimately preventing him from taking the next step in his career and teaching an ethics course in the philosophy department at U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The former Green Beret noted that the military is losing valuable assets that it has poured years of training and lots of money into. “Not only was it the two years of Special Forces qualification course training, which included language school, survival, evasion, resistance and escape, but I couldn’t try to try out for that until I’ve already had a few years of service as an infantry officer.”
“So, basically the military is losing out on a lot of money and a lot of funding that they’ve put into me, a lot of just very specialized training. And I would have loved to have had that teaching opportunity, a chance to really form young cadets, to teach them to care more about the Constitution, about their service members, than about these career policies that are being pushed.”
During his exit interview, Frankman said, a colonel within the 7th Special Forces Group grilled him on different aspects of his religious beliefs as though he was “a little bit extremist”—and as though he didn’t have a place in the military because of the views he held.
Many service members have objected to getting the vaccine on religious grounds and have requested religious exemptions to the vaccine. The Daily Signal reported in December that 9,068 members of the Army, 4,309 members of the Navy, 1,350 members of the Coast Guard, 3,740 members of the Marines and roughly 11,000 members of the Air Force requested those religious exemptions.
But the military granted very few of the exemption requests. As of December: 123 to Army soldiers, 65 to members of the Navy, 12 to Coast Guardsmen, 23 to Marines, and about 200 to members of the Air Force.
In total, 8,424 military members have been discharged, the Department of Defense confirmed to The Daily Signal in December: 1,841 from the Army, 3,717 from the Marines, 1,631 active from the Navy and 401 from the Navy Reserve, and 834 from the Air Force.
And the Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed to The Daily Signal in December that it had discharged 273 members.
Frankman thinks that the military’s response to service members objecting to the vaccine has “absolutely destroyed readiness” in a number of ways.
“I made it through the mandate, but I’m still choosing to leave, and that’s because I’ve lost out on enough career opportunities,” he explained, adding:
So, we are having low retention, low recruitment, and a lot of that is due to the vaccine mandates. People are seeing how their buddies were treated … .
We’ve also have all of these medical injuries. And I’ve had a number of service members come up to me, because they know where I stand on the issue, and tell me about heart issues they’ve had, partial facial paralysis … . We’re seeing people have heart attacks at dive school, heart issues when they are flying a plane.
Frankman first spoke out in an op-ed published by The Floridian, in which he slammed the highest levels of the Department of Defense for obscuring “information about the legality of the mandate, the medical safety of the shot, and the ethical implications of these vaccines.”
“I’m writing so that military leaders can learn from their mistakes concerning the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccines for when something like this happens in the future,” he wrote. “I’m also writing to inform the public of the situation in the military so they can put pressure on political leaders to enact policies to treat service members properly and refrain from any action that compromises their morale, health and conscience.”
“Finally,” he added, “I’m encouraging all people to think critically when future crises arise so as to not give way to propaganda and social pressure, especially when it goes against one’s values, individual liberty and common sense.
“Edmund Burke said that, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ In order to avoid these evils in the future, each of us must inform and follow our consciences, especially those in authority, such as military leaders.”
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