Wife of a Marine Corps major disciplined for refusing to get vaccinated on religious grounds speaks out.
A Marine Corps major selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel recently went through a Board of Inquiry process and was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming of an officer” for maintaining his religious conviction and refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
The Epoch Times spoke with Meghan Harwood, the wife of the officer in question, Major Nick Harwood. While her husband will soon be separated from the Corps after 15 years of honorable service, Mrs. Harwood said, his case represents an “excellent example of the farce that is the military legal system.”
She said his religious beliefs and Constitutional rights were trampled on, explaining that “he is not being afforded the rights of every other American in this country.” His request for religious accommodation was denied, as well as his subsequent appeal.
Major Harwood was given 48 hours to take the shot after receiving the denial of his appeal in December 2021. “They were trying to force him to violate his religious beliefs,” but according to his wife, “he maintained his religious conviction.”
And as a result, he was relieved of his position and assigned to work elsewhere.
Over six months after the denial of religious accommodation, he met with his Board of Inquiry on July 18. Mrs. Harwood described it as “an administrative court,” one absent the strict legal proceedings of a standard court.
“There’s no judge,” she said. “Instead, there are three high-ranking officers that vote whether to keep him or separate him [from the Marine Corps].”
One of the points the government prosecutor argued, she said, is that when a person joins the military, they also limit their rights. He then tied this point to limiting free speech, giving the example that “you can’t go into work and tell your commanding officer off.” He also tied it to the Second Amendment, noting that “you can’t just bring a gun into some workplaces.”
Both points, according to Mrs. Harwood, are “extremely asinine” examples of limiting someone’s rights.
While Major Harwood’s wife was able to testify at his Board of Inquiry, her speech was limited.
“While the prosecutor objected to me testifying for my husband, I was told that I could testify as long as I don’t talk about our religious beliefs,” she explained.
In the end, Major Harwood was charged with “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” as well as multiple counts of failing to obey an order or regulation, according to Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
His wife considers each charge to be an assault on his Constitutional rights, as she said, “Article 90 specifically states that any order that goes against Constitutional or statutory rights is deemed unlawful, [explaining that] they’ve ignored an important Constitutional First Amendment right in the matter—the freedom of religion.”
Mrs. Harwood added that they are violating statutory law under the Religious Freedom Act of 1993.
“The manual for court martials says that the lawfulness of an order is a question of law to be determined by a military judge, but with the Board of Inquiry, no one is standing before a military judge,” she said.
“In my husband’s case,” Mrs. Harwood said, “two of the three board members are commanders, [emphasizing that] they are actually some of the Marines tasked with ordering people to get the shot.” She questions how her husband is receiving a fair trial from three Marines who are vaccinated, while two of the three are giving orders to take the vaccine.
They are also responsible for negatively endorsing religious accommodations, she added.
“If [Major Harwood] was actually able to attend a court martial hearing in front of a military judge,” she said, “he would have more of a fair chance.” And according to Mrs. Harwood, “they know they would lose in an actual...