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One airman is issuing a warning on religious freedom shortly after a federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from firing Air Force members over their vaccination status.
Air National Guard Lt. Col. Tristan Fries, who is fighting to remain in the military despite his vaccination status, and his attorney Kris Kobach joined “Fox & Friends First” to discuss how the policy is affecting the military amid recruitment lows.
“Initially I was upset, but now after coping with it for the last ten months or so, I’m actually sad because religious freedom should be a given to every citizen in this country, and especially for the men and women in our armed forces that are fighting to protect the Constitution,” Fries told co-host Todd Piro.
“It shouldn’t be something that we have to go litigate in court,” he continued. “It should be a given, and so I’m sad that as a country, we’ve gotten to the place where this is not just recognized automatically.”
A federal judge temporarily halted the dismissal of airmen earlier this month who refuse to get the COVID vaccine on religious grounds.
Service members walk at Maxwell AFB. (Maxwell Air Force Base)
Kobach, who is also running to become the next attorney general of Kansas, detailed how the policy has damaging implications for “military readiness” as recruitment challenges persist.
“The Biden administration is threatening to fire hundreds of pilots, probably around 300 total,” Kobach said. “And this is at a time when our Air Force has a shortage of 1,650 pilots. So we are not only firing the pilots, but the Biden administration is threatening to fire all kinds of other critical personnel like Tristan at a time when… there are no pilots to replace them, and they’re having difficulties recruiting new members of the Air Force, so it hurts our military to do this.”
Each branch of the U.S. military has encountered recruitment challenges recently, and critics warn discharging personnel over the vaccine will only exacerbate the issue.
Fries, who is a cybersecurity professional of 18 years, says he is risking his family’s financial livelihood to fight back against the policy.
“I’ve served 18 years in the United States Air Force and Kansas National Guard combined,” Fries said. “I’ve got a retirement at 20 years that I could potentially lose if I was to face separation from this.”
“That retirement is worth about $3 million if I live till about 80 years old,” he continued. “So it’s a significant impact on my family and in my current livelihood as well.”
Bailee Hill is an associate editor with Fox News Digital.