Members of the Military Continue to Seek Upgraded Discharges and Accountability for the 2021 COVID-19 Shot Mandate

Image: Wikimedia Commons

When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin officially announced the military COVID-19 shot mandate in August 2021, Airman First Class Briana Céspedes was stationed in South Korea.

According to her recent contribution to The Gateway Pundit, “she received an email directly from her Wing Commander, without anyone cc’d, directly stating that if she did not get the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of [September 2021], she would be disobeying a lawful order”—which could result in court martial and dishonorable discharge from the Air Force.

The 22-year-old, who continued to refuse the COVID shot on the grounds of religion and more, spent 112 days in isolation, nearly four months in quarantine, and faced repeated, coercive threats of discharge and loss of benefits. Requests for religious accommodation were subsequently denied.

Like thousands of others who maintained their convictions, Céspedes received a general discharge with less than honorable status from the Air Force in July 2022. The entire experience was “illegal, discriminatory, and mentally debilitating,” she told The Gateway Pundit.

Although she was able to upgrade her discharge status to honorable in January 2024, Céspedes said she remains concerned about “the thousands and thousands of others who still have general discharge statuses and are living without the benefits they’ve earned.”

She said there were over 8,600 service members who were involuntarily discharged from the military and tens of thousands more punished with loss of pay. And according to the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database, as many as 60,000 service members were out of the military within the first year of the COVID mandate.

“This is wrong, and we need a quick change,” she asserted. “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is one of the quickest ways to change the lives of thousands of people [who are no longer under the enforcement of the now-rescinded COVID-19 shot mandate].”

For those booted out for refusing the shot, general discharges should be immediately upgraded to honorable discharges, she argued. “That’s the lowest hanging fruit we can ask for,” she explained.

What’s more, Céspedes said, “There needs to be something put in place where a mandate like this never happens again.” She stated that she wouldn’t return to service, knowing that the tyrannical enforcement of a so-called vaccine could happen again. “There’s nothing stopping it, and I think there are many service members like me who don’t even want to take a chance at risking that.”

For the people who created and enforced the mandate with threats and coercion, Céspedes said, “they actually need to be held accountable.” Without a quick change of discharge statuses, a way to prevent the same thing from happening again, and the means to hold military leadership accountable, she admitted, “the current NDAA being considered by Congress will be a disappointment to all service members negatively affected by this mandate, especially those were injured by the so-called vaccine.”

“[Former president Donald] Trump was right when he said people are ashamed of this current administration,” Céspedes shared. “Veterans and service members are definitely ashamed, many sad and angry over the Afghanistan pullout, the shot mandate, the push for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ideology, and more.”

“All the honor associated with being in the military is being destroyed right now,” Céspedes warned. “It’s past time for Congress to do the right thing.”

Céspedes continues to urge anyone involuntarily separated from service because of the COVID mandate who is seeking to upgrade their discharge statuses to apply through Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). “I am aware of more and more cases being approved,” she pointed out. By the end of 2023, she said, more than 30 Air Force cases were upgraded. Her Instagram page provides a step-by-step guide for upgrading a discharge status.


Additionally, for those seeking accountability over the unlawful and harmful COVID-19 shot mandate, Cespedes asks that they sign a petition that accompanies the Declaration of Military Accountability.


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