Unvaxxed sailors stuck in limbo, suffer ‘deplorable’ living conditions while Navy stalls on religious exemptions

Sailors have been reportedly left in “deplorable” living conditions after refusing to get vaccinated and a number of them are stuck in limbo as they are unable to leave while awaiting termination by the Navy.

Service members who refused the Department of Defense’s COVID vaccination mandate due to religious exemptions are still being physically separated from other sailors. Pictures have surfaced of backed-up and overflowing toilets, as well as other unsanitary conditions that Navy personnel are being subjected to all because they would not submit to the jab, according to court documents.

In November, First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of 35 active-duty SEALs and three reservists who were seeking religious exemptions to the military mandate, according to Fox News. The suit has been amended to extend to a class action lawsuit that encompasses all Navy service members seeking religious accommodation.

The Supreme Court blocked a lower court’s order in March that would have stopped the Navy from enforcing mandatory COVID vaccinations. The suit is now being battled out in lower courts across the nation. In the wake of the suit, unvaccinated SEALs and other sailors who have not been booted yet by the U.S. government are stuck in a gruesome form of limbo. They are prevented from seeking other housing or from traveling outside their base regardless of the conditions where they live.

A court filing from June by First Liberty in the Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division District Court painted a very disturbing picture of sailors residing in unsanitary living conditions on large U.S. vessels as their cases are adjudicated.

One sailor contended they “could not leave the area” after asking to separate from the military due to religious objections over getting vaccinated and were then moved to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier’s berthing barge, where the conditions are, in a word, disgusting.

“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),” the sailor asserted.

“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,” he continued.

“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,” the sailor remarked.

A Navy technician who has served for over nine years gave written testimony that his performance rating was downgraded after he refused the jab due to 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,” he declared.

“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,” he charged.

Another sailor testified that the Navy is “refusing” to allow him to separate from service even though his second child is on the way.

“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,” he said.

It should be noted that the Navy has not granted a single religious exemption to the mandate. There are 4,244 exemptions pending. The military branch has granted 19 permanent medical exemptions and 189 temporary medical exemptions according to a recent filing by First Liberty.

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