In a letter sent to Veterans Affairs (VA) on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, along with Senators Ted Cruz (R- TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Mike Braun (R-IN) inquired how and if the VA plans to compensate veterans injured by the mandated COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Military.com, approximately 17,000 service members refused the vaccine. As a result of refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 8400 were separated from the military: 3717 Marines, 2041 Navy servicemen, 1841 Army servicemen and 834 Space Force/ Air Force servicemen. In December 2022, Congress passed a law that required the DoD to terminate the vaccine mandate for US military service members.
A study published by JAMA Cardiology stated that the military administered more than 2.8 million doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine between January 1 and April 30, 2021. The study looked at patients within the US Military Health System who experienced myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination between January and April 2021. They found that “A total of 23 male patients (22 currently serving in the military and 1 retiree; median [range] age, 25 [20-51] years) presented with acute onset of marked chest pain within 4 days after receipt of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. All military members were previously healthy with a high level of fitness.” Researchers concluded that “While the observed number of myocarditis cases was small, the number was higher than expected among male military members after a second vaccine dose.” Additionally, “In this case series, myocarditis occurred in previously healthy military patients with similar clinical presentations following receipt of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Further surveillance and evaluation of this adverse event following immunization is warranted. Potential for rare vaccine-related adverse events must be considered in the context of the well-established risk of morbidity, including cardiac injury, following COVID-19 infection.”
In their letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough, Senators Rubio, Scott and colleagues asked the Department to clarify the VA’s policies surrounding COVID-19 vaccine-related injuries, including how the VA determines disability benefits for such injuries.
“If our government is asking service members to receive a vaccine, we must be cognizant that there will be unintended side effects that may cause lifelong impacts on their health. We must keep our promise to support our service members, including ensuring those who come to the VA for help with COVID-19 vaccine injuries are justly compensated and receive the care that they deserve.”
Specific questions they pose are:
What is the VA’s process for considering COVID-19 vaccine injuries for disability claims?
Does the VA consider COVID-19 vaccine injuries as service-related if the service member received the vaccine during service?
Has the VA investigated the health effects of COVID-19 vaccine injuries?
What resources does the VA provide service members who are concerned that a COVID-19 vaccination led to their injury?