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U.S. Navy service members who’re searching for religious exemptions to the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have been transferred into deplorable living conditions and, in some instances, are unable to go away while awaiting termination from the army, in accordance with court docket paperwork.
First Liberty Institute in November filed a lawsuit on behalf of 35 active-duty SEALs and three reservists searching for a religious exemption to the mandate, as first reported by Fox News Digital. The case has since been amended to increase to a category motion lawsuit encompassing all Navy service members searching for religious lodging.
In March, the Supreme Court blocked a decrease court docket’s order in Texas that might have pressured the Navy to cease implementing the vaccine mandate. Now, the case is constant to be litigated in decrease courts across the nation, and unvaccinated SEALs and different sailors who haven’t but been terminated by the U.S. authorities are caught in limbo, with lots of them pressured into less-than-desirable different housing by the army or barred from touring outdoors their base.
In a court docket submitting in June by First Liberty within the Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division District Court, sailors recounted deplorable conditions on giant U.S. vessels, the place they continue to be ready as their instances are adjudicated.
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One sailor who’s now a part of the category motion lawsuit stated in a court-filed declaration that they “could not leave the area” after asking to be terminated from the army on account of religious objections to the mandate and have been moved to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower plane provider’s berthing barge, the place the conditions are “deplorable.”
“Because I could not leave the area, I moved onto the berthing barge for the Eisenhower. The conditions on the barge are deplorable, much like the USS George Washington, which is anchored in the same shipyard. There is mold everywhere and the barge’s toilets back up and leak. The water leaks out of the base of the toilet and collects near my rack and out into the hall. On bad days, it goes into the berthings on the other side. The leaks seem to be sewage—it smells like sewage and looks like it too. See Exhibit C (water I’ve mopped up from under my rack).”
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“There is some sort of worm thriving in the stagnant water in the toilet bowls and on the floor in the leaked water around the base of the toilets. Needless to say, I do not feel comfortable or safe in this environment and I have contacted mental health services multiple times,” continued the sailor.
“I do want—desperately—to be separated from the Navy as soon as possible, but I struggle with withdrawing my request as I feel it could signal that my religious objection was somehow not genuine, and it is. It feels wrong to have to renounce my beliefs in order to get the Navy to separate me,” they continued.
Another Navy technician who has served for greater than 9 years stated in written testimony that their efficiency ranking began struggling after submitting a religious exemption.
“Prior to the vaccine mandate, I consistently earned a ‘must promote’ rating on my performance evaluations. This year, because I submitted a religious accommodation and was planning on separating, I was given a ‘promote’ status. This downgrade in ranking makes it appear as if my skills as a sailor have regressed. I have maintained my work throughout the year and was told during a briefing on my evaluation that the rating was not due to my performance, but my upcoming separation because of the denial of my religious accommodation,” they acknowledged.
“To date, I am still unable to separate. My work environment feels extremely toxic over the vaccine issue, which has caused both my wife and I much stress. Because of my sincerely held religious objection, I will not take the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of the hardship and stress this process has brought to my family, I do not wish to be a part of the United States Navy anymore.”
Another Navy sailor stated in sworn testimony that the Navy is “refusing” to separate them from service, regardless of the upcoming arrival of their second little one.
“In anticipation of my separation, my wife and I sold our house, and my wife and one-year-old son have moved to another state. My wife is pregnant with our second child and her due date is in August 2022. I have been unable to join her and my son, or to start my new job, because the Navy has told me that I am not allowed to separate from the Navy due to this lawsuit.”
A Navy spokesperson didn’t reply to Fox News Digital’s request for touch upon the lawsuit and the living conditions for sailors, or if that they had since improved.
The Navy has not granted a single religious exemption to the mandate — there are presently 4,244 pending — however has granted 19 everlasting medical exemptions, 189 non permanent medical exemptions and three everlasting medical exemptions, in accordance with one other current submitting by First Liberty.
The army is not any stranger to undesirable living conditions for active-duty officers.
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One former active-duty service member informed Fox News Digital that there have been many examples through the years of lower than fascinating living quarters for service members.
He cited the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina, which had a sequence of points in its barracks, together with plumbing, rampant mould, asbestos and water leaks. The barracks, which have been constructed within the Seventies, have change into so problematic that troopers needed to be relocated.
In addition, there are a sequence of poisonous water lawsuits on behalf of present and former service members in opposition to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which can have uncovered greater than 1 million army officers for the reason that Nineteen Fifties.