In a scathing critique of the Department of Defense, former Army Surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel Danielle Smith, rejected the offer to return to service amidst the Army and Air Force’s recruitment struggles. Both branches of the military have extended invitations to former military personnel who were discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, giving them the chance to upgrade their discharges and potentially rejoin the armed forces. This move comes after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin revoked the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate in January, following Congressional action.
Look at this news article from The Daily Caller: ’They Have Lost My Trust’: Former Army Surgeon Rips DOD For Begging Unvaccinated Personnel To Return https://t.co/RqEN1Nk0T6
— Townsend44 (@Townsend442) November 22, 2023
During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Smith made her position abundantly clear, stating, “I’m not planning to at this time. It’s incredibly disingenuous after what they did…they are coming back with no apology, no back pay, no back entitlements.” Clearly frustrated, Smith expressed her disappointment in the lack of recognition and support for those who were compelled to resign or involuntarily separated from service. She characterized the situation as an insincere attempt by the military to entice former personnel. Smith emphasized the need for an apology and acknowledgment of the harm caused before any serious consideration of returning to duty.
By declining the offer, Smith joins countless others who have lost faith in the military’s handling of their resignations and separations. Smith, who had been forced to resign alongside 15 other surgeons, highlighted the difficulty in retaining physicians within the military, particularly surgeons. With her trust shattered, she articulated her concerns, stating, “They made it very clear to me that they didn’t care about my health and well-being… They have crossed the line.”
Smith had previously attempted to obtain medical and religious exemptions for the vaccine, all of which were denied. As a devoted Catholic and new mother at the time, she felt the strongest obligation to protect her faith and her baby’s well-being. She explained, “I just knew in good conscience I couldn’t take this vaccine,” and attested to the lengthy process of submitting a religious accommodation request, which ultimately yielded a dismissive response from superiors. Smith’s frustration grew as she witnessed the military’s double standard, expecting her to continue working and caring for patients while refusing her own request.
The Army’s failure to meet its recruiting goals for fiscal year 2023 only underscores the challenging situation they now face. Falling short of the targeted 65,000 personnel, the Army only managed to recruit 55,000. According to Smith, the military’s current appeal to former personnel seems like nothing short of “complete nonsense.” With one of the main concerns being the retention of talented medical professionals, the military’s actions present a significant roadblock to attracting and maintaining skilled healthcare personnel.
Lieutenant Colonel Danielle Smith’s decision to reject the Army and Air Force’s offer to return to service reflects the widespread disillusionment among military personnel who were forced to resign or were involuntarily separated due to their vaccine decisions. The lack of apology, back pay, and back entitlements has only heightened the distrust and frustration felt by Smith and others who find little reason to believe that their health, personal opinions, and families were adequately considered. The current recruitment struggles faced by the Army and Air Force further highlight the negative repercussions of the military’s handling of this situation.