Pentagon pivot: Officials ‘not pursuing’ back pay for troops fired after refusing vax

The Pentagon says back pay for troops fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine is not off the table but is not under active consideration, in a reversal from an earlier statement by the department.

During a press briefing Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder responded to a question about whether the department is still exploring providing back pay for service members, and said it is not an issue the DOD is “pursuing.”

“We are not pursuing, as a matter of policy, back pay for those who refused the vaccine,” said Ryder.

He continued: “So [I can] tell you that right now we’re not currently pursuing back pay.”

LAWMAKERS PRESS PENTAGON TO GIVE BACK PAY TO TROOPS FIRED FOR REFUSING VAX: ‘WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION’

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ryder’s statements at the press briefing come after Department of Defense spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz said recently that the department is “exploring” the issue of providing back pay.

“The Department is still exploring this and will provide its views on legislation of this nature at the appropriate time and through the appropriate process,” said Dietz to Fox News Digital Tuesday morning.

PENTAGON DITCHES COVID VACCINE MANDATE FOR TROOPS

“All Service members and Veterans may apply at any time to the appropriate Discharge Review Board or Board for Correction for Military/Naval Records if they believe that there is an error or injustice in their records – to include those that were separated by the vaccine mandate,” continued Dietz.

The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision to repeal the administration’s military vaccine mandate.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

President Biden last month signed the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a provision, cleared by the House and the Senate, to repeal the administration’s military vaccine mandate. Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signed a memo that will update the records and remove letters of reprimand from troops whose exemption requests to the vaccine were denied.

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Lawmakers are pressuring the Pentagon to provide back pay for the roughly 8,400 U.S. troops fired after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, after the department rolled back its mandate.

Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, told Fox News Digital that Congress is already planning to add language into the next NDAA to provide back pay for terminated troops if the Pentagon does not do so.

Fox News’ Liz Friden contributed to this report.