- On Saturday, President Joe Biden publicly thanked a heroic Coast Guard swimmer who saved the life of a disabled woman during Hurricane Ian.
- Despite the gratitude, Zach Loesch, an Aviator Survival Technician Second Class, is expected to be released in two months for refusing to be vaccinated.
- He is one of the 2,632 members of the Coast Guard who have refused to be vaccinated.
- Currently, there are around 15,000 active servicemen and women who could be discharged due to their stance on vaccines.
- Loesch, who is seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate, said he didn’t bring up the issue when speaking to Biden.
- If servicemembers refuse the vaccine, they will usually be discharged. However, if they choose to get the vaccine later on, they are able to collect benefits and re enlist.
Jason Moulton, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, is set to be fired in the coming days due to the military’s Covid-19 vaccine policy. This news comes after he was publicly thanked by President Joe Biden for his Hurricane Ian heroics just days ago.
In a statement, Biden praised Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Zach Loesch for his service: “I told him how proud I was of him and thanked him for all the hard work he and his Coasties do to save lives,” the statement read.
As of September 2022, there are 2,632 members of the US Coast Guard who have not been vaccinated.
The US Marine Corps has the most unvaccinated members with 8,913, followed by the Air Force with 3,955. The Navy has 2,623 unvaccinated members and the Army has 1,337–the fewest out of all the branches.
Loesch was collaborating with Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hooper during his rescue attempt. The gratitude-filled message went on to thank the heroic work of not just Loesch and Hooper, but all of their Coast Guard colleagues who took part in search and rescue operations in response to Hurricane Ian.
The release continued: ‘The President thanked them for saving lives and asked for a report on the work that continues to rescue Floridians.’
‘He also asked if they needed any additional support that he can provide to accelerate successful rescues; they indicated they have gotten what they need to execute their vital mission,’ the statement concluded.
Loesch said in an interview after the conversation that he will most likely be fired by the Coast Guard due to his negative stance on vaccines.
He said: ‘If I had asked any of the people I saved yesterday if they wanted to come with me even though I am unvaccinated, every single one of them would have said “yes.”
Loesch also said that he has submitted a religious exemption. Religious exemptions are typically made in the military regarding the use of fetal tissue in the vaccine.
Although this may be surprising to some, Pope Francis has endorsed the Covid-19 vaccine.
So far, most of the service members who have been involuntarily discharged for refusing to get immunized have received a general discharge.
According to the Military Times, this means they are still entitled to benefits and can rejoin the military if they get the vaccine.
During his conversation with Biden, Loesch stated that he didn’t believe it was appropriate to address his impending firing when they spoke on the phone.
He said: ‘It just sucks that he thanked me yet the vaccine mandate is what’s kicking me out.’
Loesch added: ‘I just love my job and I’m really good at it. It sucks. I feel like this is the job that I was born to do.’
Loesch is also a skilled disc golfer. He is ranked 971st in the United States and resides in Dunedin, Florida, according to his official profile on the Professional Disc Golf Association website.
On his Instagram account, he claims to be a “USCG Helicopter Rescue Swimmer” and a “Proud Husband.”
Loesch save a disabled woman and her husband during the rescue by kicking in a wall to get to them.
Loesch then attached the wheelchair-bound woman to his body and lifted her into a waiting helicopter. He also managed to save several pets in the same vicinity.
In August, seven cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut were disenrolled for not getting the military’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement after their requests for religious exemption were denied.
The cadets, who have not been named yet, were required to leave the campus by August 19.
The lawyer for the affected students, Michael Rose, said that if they did not leave by August 19, campus security would remove them from the premises.
Last year, defense secretary Lloyd Austin made getting the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all service members, including those attending military academies. He said that being vaccinated is key to maintaining both military readiness and the health of everyone in the force.
Two lawsuits are challenging the order, including one in South Carolina and Texas that involves Rose’s clients from the Coast Guard Academy.
The Army National Guard was given the longest amount of time to get their vaccines out of all the military service groups. The main reasoning behind this is that there are approximately 330,000 reservists located throughout the U.S., many residing in rural areas where access may be more difficult.
The vast majority of the Marine Corps, 92 percent of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Guard are immunized at 97 percent or above, while 94 percent of the Air Guard is vaccinated. Approximately 90% of active-duty members in the Army Reserve were partially or completely immunized.