A high cost: Religious freedom and COVID vaccines in the military

By Deborah Riffenburgh — Today, as America celebrates the founding of our great nation and the liberties we enjoy, let us remember our military brothers and sisters who remain in the trenches, fighting for religious freedom from mandated COVID vaccines. One soldier’s battle against these mandates is a costly one for his career and for his family. 


As Americans, we are blessed with a rich heritage of liberty and freedom, particularly religious freedom. We honor our nation’s founders who established the principles upon which this nation was built, the heroes who fought and died to secure them, and the legacy we have inherited.

For generations, our military service members have continued to protect and defend that hard-won freedom, which we still enjoy thanks to their service and sacrifice. Yet, ironically, while we celebrate today with our barbecues and fireworks, thousands of these brave men and women are being denied the very liberty that prompts our celebration—the very freedom they have dedicated their lives to defend.

Ryan’s story: A costly battle against COVID vaccine mandates

Across the military, an estimated 150,000 service members have refused to submit to a mandatory, abortion-derived, COVID injection because it violates their deeply held religious convictions. Thousands have already been discharged for refusing the vaccine, with many more expected in the coming months.

But these soldiers are not numbers. Behind the uniform, each one is a real person and a fellow citizen, standing with integrity at great personal cost.

Ryan,* a devoted husband and father, and an Air Force Reserve Airman, is one of these courageous heroes battling COVID vaccine mandates. Ryan was active duty for 9 years and has been in the Reserves since 2018. He loves the Air Force and is proud of his contribution.

“I wanna be a 20 year guy, I really do. That’s the biggest frustration, to not be able to do what I’ve wanted to do and what I’ve trained to do.”

He requested an exemption to the mandate because he objected to the use of cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue in the development and testing of these vaccines. He and his wife Natalie* are devout Christians who affirm that to inject such a product into one’s body is to be complicit in the murder of children.

“We believe that murder is immoral and wrong. We also believe that those children who are aborted on a daily basis are being murdered.”

Ryan’s request for a religious exemption was denied, as was his appeal.

On May 11th, he was informed that he is no longer allowed to participate in his drill. Without this participation, Ryan does not receive any pay or points toward a good year in the Reserves, effectively cutting $1,100 a month from their family’s paycheck. His retirement from the Reserves could also be delayed or even nullified.

Ryan also received a Letter of Reprimand (LOR) for his decision not to take the COVID vaccine. The Air Force skipped the typical first step in the disciplinary process (the Letter of Counseling) and went straight to the LOR. He submitted a rebuttal but is expecting a second LOR soon, which will begin the discharge process.

In any family, the loss of income and career is a devastating blow, but Ryan and Natalie just welcomed their second child—a baby girl who is currently in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Concern for their daughter’s health has been compounded by financial worries and the impending threat to the family’s insurance status. Without insurance, their daughter’s stay in the NICU will be very expensive.

“Our daughters are the reason my husband is fighting for the right to remain in the Air Force.”

COVID vaccines, religious freedom in the military

Ryan is expecting to be pushed to Individual Ready Reserve any day, which will separate him from the Air Force unless a major event or national emergency occurs. Even under this pressure, he stands firm in his convictions, refusing to submit to an abortion-tainted COVID injection.

This takes tremendous courage—and faith.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

True heroism

This Independence Day, as we honor our nation’s founders and those who fought to establish the liberties with which we are so richly blessed, may we also recognize today’s freedom fighters who carry on their legacy. They are true heroes and patriots, courageously standing up for what’s right in the face of enormous opposition and personal sacrifice.

We ask that you prayerfully consider a contribution to Airmen for Religious Freedom’s GiveSendGo fund. They could greatly use your help and appreciate your support!

To learn more about the work of the Personhood Alliance and our 100% pro-life, no exceptions stance, subscribe to our email list.

Deborah Riffenburgh is the vice president of Personhood Alliance Education and the social media coordinator for the Personhood Alliance. She has been active in pro-life media and foster care advocacy for several years. But most importantly, she’s a California mom who is fighting against the lies of our culture and for the protection of every human being without exception.

10 comments on “A high cost: Religious freedom and COVID vaccines in the military

  1. Kristana Slie says:

    This is a charge to every human. Fight the good fight. I read an article recently concerning the number of military personnel who are refusing the vaccine. According to an insider interviewed for the article, the military is hiding the true numbers of soldiers who are refusing the vaccine. The number of refusers is much higher than they are publicizing and they are going to push the deadline out further because they will not have enough soldiers if they continue kicking out vaccine refusers. Whatever they do or don’t do, Hold Your Ground. Stand Strong. This fight is more important and more heroic than fighting Russia or China, which would just be helping the deep state. This fight for our freedom and for America is the main fight of our generation. This is where it counts. No vaccines, no invasion of our freedoms, no takeover of our food supply, no invasion of our privacy. We will not go digital. We will decentralize education, medical care, banking, and our food sources. Bring back small business, small banks, competing currencies, local food, and local school decisions. We do not want AI or 5G. This is the fight every human around the world should be fighting. We want national sovereignty, not global citizens. Corporations need to be broken up just like the trusts were broken under Teddy Roosevelt. Corporations and corrupt politicians need to be held accountable for the active warfare they are engaging against the people. There are only a few who are controlling and destroying the masses. Their power needs to be broken and they need to be accountable and pay a price for crimes against humanity.

  2. The covid jab is not a vaccine. There have been more ill effects and even death from that jab than from the disease itself. It is difficult not to believe that there is more to the push for covid jab than meets the eye. And, I agree, God has to be in charge, here.
    M. J. Ferrari, M.D., M.P.H (U.W.O.) & T.M. (Tulane U.)

  3. k.w. says:

    The years of Covid will go down in American history as a tarnish on America and the freedoms it professes to give all Americans. I’m disappointed in our country that so many people’s individual and religious freedoms have been denied with the appearance of a virus. This virus shouldn’t have happened…we had federal agencies that dropped their responsibilities and allowed China to unleash this and in my opinion many in the government should be held accountable. Our freedoms, religious and medical, and any others should be upheld ESPECIALLY DURING TIMES OF TRIAL. I believe if the ingenuity of medical personnel had been allowed to flourish and state governors and federal agencies could not politicize our medical and pharmaceutical treatments that many would have been saved. Our Supreme Court did not vote appropriately with medical and military personnel and for that many people have lost jobs, been demeaned, been denied their individual and religious rights. Many are damaged and many died as side effects to this vaccine. It’s a scary world when the federal government pushed a “vaccine” with pharmaceutical companies against individual freedoms! Many living today have no personal experience with sacrifice for America and therefore have no appreciation for individual freedoms and are blinded by a political affiliation rather than their patriotic duty as Americans. Thank you for telling your story Ryan.

    I’m praying for you Ryan, your family, and our country. I’m not voting for anyone who doesn’t believe in the right to audit our votes, medical freedoms, religious freedoms and in curtailing the powers of the federal government as outlined in our constitution. Thank you for your service Ryan and may God Bless you, your family and the USA. .

  4. Roselyn Watson says:

    May God bless you all for making a stand. Ultimately God is our provider and He supplies our needs. Stand on the precious Word of God and His promises. Though it tarries wait for God to bring it about.He holds all His children in the palm of His hand and He will never leave us or forsake us. Give thanks and rejoice that we belong to Him. May the glory forever belong to our God. Xxx🙋‍♀️💕🙏🙏🙏

  5. Steph says:


  6. Kerry Rogers says:

    You have courage. God will bless you and watch over you. Stay the course.

  7. Deborah Birch just testified before Congress. When Jim Jordan asked did you lie to the American public about the vaccine her answer was “we said what we wanted and hoped it would do”. No scientific evidence. Just what they hoped it would do. While Americans lost careers. This is what needs investigation. Follow the money trail.

  8. Kelly Tuck says:

    Thank you for encouraging other Christians who are against COVID vaccine using aborted babies. It’s nice to know we are not alone in the fight to stand up for Godly principles.

  9. I wholeheartedly thank all our service men and women who bravely have served our great nation. I especially pray for all service members who have bravely refused the abortion tainted injections because of their religious observances. To those service members who have been unjustly discharged, and those who soon may face the same fate, in my opinion, continue to be heroes, albeit at a great price they are forced to pay. Such a tragedy when principles and moral values have been given disregard in the name of coercion and compliance. These particular service members have now entered in to not just a national war, but a holy war! Praying fervently now for a “holy” outcome! ☝ Keep up the good fight.👣💓

    1. Yes we need prayer for our country.

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