J.D. Brew (a pseudonym) is a U.S. Army senior enlisted service member with an exemplary record. Over the course of his nearly 20-year career, he has participated in multiple combat deployments. In fact, while deployed to the Middle East between the Summer of 2020 and the start of 2021, Brew was leading other soldiers in one of the most prominent airborne infantry divisions of the U.S. Army.
But while he would prefer to continue serving his country, he says it is time for him to retire. And his thoughts about retirement, unfortunately, come at a time when the Army's recruiting goal is suffering more than at any time in history.
Even prior to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's enforcement of a military vaccine mandate in August 2021, Brew tells American Family News he was "constantly harassed, ridiculed, and accused of not being a team player" by his superiors for choosing not to take a vaccine for COVID-19.
Brew contracted COVID-19 in the Spring of 2021. After recovering, he says his first-line supervisor asked if he had "learned [his] lesson" and went on to suggest he should get the jab. Again, he refused.
"At least once a week, we would hold battalion formations – and whoever the senior leader present was at the time, he would make an effort to guilt and coerce people into receiving the shot," Brew shares. "This included shaming leaders within the formation who had not received theirs yet."
Between May and August 2021, Brew witnessed other soldiers who had taken the shot begin to develop several adverse reactions. "These included extreme headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations, or extreme illness – all occurring within days of receiving the shot," he explains. "[But] they were all told it was allergies, a normal reaction, or that nothing was wrong with them."
With his brigade slated for a training rotation in Southeast Asia, a list of unvaccinated soldiers was created to single out those who planned on participating in the training. Brew discloses that the brigade commander threatened to punish the unvaccinated soldiers if they did not receive the COVID shots in time to participate in the training.
Brew explains that prior to leaving his unit for another assignment, division headquarters ordered brigades to also compile lists of all senior service members who had not received the shots.
"The exact reason is unknown," he adds, suggesting that "this played a part in my award for exemplary service to my unit being downgraded just before my departure."
With pressure building to get the shot – and Secretary Austin's mandate going into effect in August – it became very clear to Brew he would have to file for religious accommodation. He submitted his request in September 2021 to his new unit; it remains unanswered to date.
About a month after the submission of his request, Brew was removed from his current position and "literally placed into a storage closet/break room to handle only administrative actions," he describes. As an infantryman, "paperwork is not my primary specialty," he adds.
"I submitted a waiver for prior immunity, which is allowed according to regulation, by way of proving immunity through an antibody test," he continues. But his brigade surgeon denied the waiver, arguing it was an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) test and not FDA-approved.
"Ironically," Brew points out, "all currently available vaccines are operating under an EUA status – and despite presenting this information to my chain of command, like hundreds of other soldiers have [done], the DoD refuses to follow its own policy and instructions regarding EUA products."
Compounding his frustration, he explains that every time he questions battalion command about the efficacy of the vaccine and its legality, the common response is: "I'm just following orders."
As Brew continued to object to the vaccine, he has been threatened by an Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which implies misconduct, because he refused to submit to mandatory serial testing with EUA COVID test kits due to not being vaccinated. For this, he was given a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) even after informing his leadership the tests were EUA.
As a result, he is unable to promote and expects to be separated from the service. But Brew explains he should be able to retire before that happens.
"The blatant disregard to regulation and federal law, the willingness to participate in discriminatory acts, and only caring about one's own self and career – [that's] why I now want nothing to do with the military," he laments. "It's a corrupt, compromised, and sycophantic organization."
Brew emphasizes that his views are his alone and do not reflect those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army.