Defense

Top conservative calls on Pentagon to lift COVID-19 enlistment restrictions

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) called on the Pentagon to reverse recent guidelines that prohibit the enlistment of coronavirus survivors who were previously hospitalized.

In a letter Monday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Biggs argued that banning coronavirus survivors from serving could have negative repercussions in the long run. He noted the guidelines have already been changed once, with the initial guidelines restricting anyone who tested positive from enlisting, not just those who were hospitalized.

“As the various states begin to free their economies from draconian coronavirus restrictions, it is critical for the Department of Defense to immediately halt implementation of any related bureaucratic actions that threaten the honor to serve in the U.S. military,” he wrote.

“I am extremely concerned with recent Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM) interim guidance for the purpose of ‘rendering a medical qualification determination for an applicant with a history of confirmed COVID-19,’ ” Biggs added. “The guidance stated that an individual’s history with coronavirus would be ‘considered disqualifying’ from joining the service. This new standard was quickly updated to apply to only those who had been hospitalized for coronavirus. Despite this update, my serious concern remains.”

Biggs said that individuals who pass the screening process should be able to serve, adding that while the long-term implications may still be unknown, he doesn’t think it makes sense to prevent those who are currently in good health from joining.

“If an individual can pass the Military Entrance Processing Station screening process — despite a hospitalization for coronavirus — they should be allowed to serve. I agree that more research is needed to study the long-term effects of coronavirus on the human body. However, I do not think that the lack of research available warrants permanently disqualifying patriotic Americans from serving in the military,” he added.

“For many across our country, the American-led coronavirus response has instilled a sense of patriotism and devotion to duty. We must honor that unique commitment.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Mark Esper Military Pandemic

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