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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
25 Mar 2023

NextImg:Air Force Pilot Who Objects to All Vaccines Due to Religious Reasons Fears Punishment

An Air Force pilot who has sought a religious exemption from the COVID vaccine and all other vaccines expects he will face punishment for refusing to get vaccinated.

Having performed air mobility missions for over 15 years, Air Force Major Jeremy Franks, who spoke to The Epoch Times using a pseudonym for fear of reprisals, was immediately grounded following Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s August 2021 military vaccine mandate. He has not flown since.

Following a federal court’s decision that granted a temporary injunction to protect members of the Air Force seeking religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine, Franks said his commander told him, “It’s time to get back in the air.” But a religious decision to decline all vaccines has kept him from flying, and the future is “rather bleak,” according to him.

Even though the military has rescinded the COVID vaccine mandate, barring branches from taking any punitive action against those who sought an exemption to the vaccine, Franks’s objection to all vaccines means that he still faces potential disciplinary action.

“Initially, the use of fetal tissue in the COVID vaccine testing and production phase was the reason I refused the vaccines,” Franks told The Epoch Times. “But the same corrupt, nepotistic system that rubber-stamps approvals for COVID vaccines also produces other ones, like the flu vaccine, for example.” As a result, Franks submitted a religious accommodation request for all vaccines, including the flu.

He was told by his command that refusing the flu shot, in particular, would make him non-deployable due to the entry requirements of other countries. When he asked which countries require the annual flu shot, his command couldn’t provide an answer, according to Franks.

“In the meantime, I’ve learned so many terrible, immoral things about how all of those are made, what’s in them, and the injuries they cause globally each year that are just swept under the rug,” And for this reason, he said, “I can’t in good conscience, before my God, take any other vaccine.”

While awaiting a decision to be made on his religious accommodation request, “I’m expecting it to be denied,” he said. “If and when that is delivered to me, I’ll begin the appeal process.” He expects a denial of the appeal, as well.

Franks considers himself “stuck in a catch-22” situation: he’s not allowed to fly due to an alleged health threat to others, but he’s also not able to separate because the Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. While his wing commander has recommended approval of his separation, higher-ups have rejected this separation request due to manning issues and recruiting deficiencies.

“This is not an adversarial game I want to continue playing because it has placed far too much stress on me and my family,” he said.

If he’s denied religious accommodation for all vaccines, Franks said,” I’ll be ordered within five days to do any of three things: show proof of starting a vaccine regimen, put in a request for separation, or face punishment.”

At this time, he will continue his stance against all vaccines, knowing that he’ll likely also not be allowed to separate, and therefore be punished and kicked out with possibly a less-than-honorable discharge.

As far as punishment, “I don’t think the Air Force will go through the typical method of punishing officers by a letter of counseling, then a letter of reprimand, and then an Article 15,” he said. Instead, “They’ll just go straight to Article 15 and administratively discharge me, trying to avoid the whole court-martial process,” he added.

Article 15 permits the Air Force to address misconduct without resorting to a higher form of discipline, like a court-martial.

Attorney Lt. Col. (ret.) R. Davis Younts, who does not represent Franks, said he believes the Air Force will threaten to pursue non-judicial punishment under Article 15, but will ultimately “back down like they have in previous cases.” Younts previously served as an Air Force Reserve judge advocate general, and currently represents multiple military clients in his private capacity as a civilian attorney.

Younts has had several clients objecting to the vaccine mandate who received an Article 15 and turned it down, demanding a trial by court-martial instead. The Air Force then ended up withdrawing the proceedings altogether because it didn’t want to take the matter to court-martial, he said.

“They seem to be unwilling to risk going to trial for multiple reasons,” Younts said. “First, they know that there is a significant risk they will lose and be unable to prove the order [vaccine mandate] was lawful or that the denial of the religious accommodation request was proper.”

“Second, they fear that a court-martial panel, made up of Air Force officers, will be unwilling to convict an Air Force Officer who is taking a stand based on their sincerely held religious beliefs,” he added.

“Finally, even if they are able to obtain a conviction, it is unlikely a court-martial panel would punish an officer like Major Franks with a dismissal, which means he would be returned to duty.”

Younts noted that while the military is now no longer able to remove those who sought accommodation to the COVID vaccine, “there is a significant effort to make continued service essentially impossible.”

“Many of my clients are facing retaliation for their religious convictions and some commanders are using every administrative process possible to find ways to end their career or simply make continued service miserable,” he said.

Franks’s hesitancy to receive other vaccines is a consistent theme that Younts hears from other clients, as well as other colleagues who are still serving. “The actions of senior leaders throughout the DoD [Department of Defense], as well as other federal agencies, have created a significant loss of trust and confidence currently serving military members,” he said.

“Unfortunately, many service members do not believe that they can fully trust these institutions and find it is necessary for them to do their own research and consult with medical experts outside of the DoD,” he added.

Franks concurred, saying, “I hear one thing from leadership and industry; I do a little research, and find the very opposite.”

Franks remains adamant that he will not waiver in the face of adversity. “I joined the U.S. Air Force because I had a very strong spiritual call on my life to do so, and I greatly enjoy the honor of serving my country,” he said. “But the decisions I made [have] come at extreme cost to me and my family,” he explained.

“Despite what the masses may think, I am not doing this selfishly,” he said. “Even more so than my own my own personal convictions, I am doing this because this is how I have chosen to protect my country.”

Franks decried the Pentagon’s punishment of servicemembers who objected to the vaccine mandate, which he believes was an unlawful order.

“It is all absolutely wrong, and we are losing our freedom in this country and across the world,” he said.

“And if no one else will stand up for what’s right, our way of life will be gone,” he added. “I’ll keep standing because I took an oath to take that bullet for everyone else as a price for my freedom, for our freedom.”

Franks emphasized that expressed opinions and thoughts are his own, and do not reflect those of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force did not return a request for comment by The Epoch Times.