Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Budge never said he wouldn’t get a COVID vaccine, though he did question whether the Pentagon’s mandate that he do so was legal and looked into a possible religious exemption from it.
Now, after an allegedly botched military investigation — and after he got the shot — his military career may be coming to a premature conclusion, according to statements from his wife and an attorney representing her.
Budge has already been reprimanded and been denied a promotion, and could lose his pilot’s wings as well, Just the News reported.
Budge, a helicopter pilot with the 7th Infantry Division’s 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, has filed inspector general complaints over what he considers improperly conducted investigations into his medical records.
Budge was diagnosed with COVID in March of 2021, and wanted to wait 90 days before receiving the vaccine. He was scheduled to ship out to South Korea in September, and didn’t want to be quarantined because he hadn’t gotten the shot when his then-pregnant wife went into labor, so he saw a medic late that summer.
According to R. Davis Younts, Jessica Hill-Budge’s attorney, the medic who saw him falsified Budge’s record — without his knowledge — to indicate that he had gotten the vaccine. The medic thought she was doing a good deed, Younts said, but when Budge got the vaccine shortly thereafter, his medical records raised a red flag.
Budge was told that the medic was being investigated; he was never told that he was, nor was he read his rights before he was questioned.
It turned out that he was, in fact, being investigated, and his deployment to South Korea was canceled. Then, in December, even though Budge had in fact already received the vaccine, he was given a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, his wife and attorney told the outlet.
Budge filed his first inspector general complaint the following month. Then his brigade commander, allegedly in retaliation for the IG complaint, set up a Flying Evaluation Board to decide whether Budge would keep his pilot’s wings. Budge filed a second complaint with the IG over the alleged retaliation.
During this time, Budge was passed over for a promotion because of the investigation into his vaccination record.
The board, despite allegedly having been selected by his commanding officer in reprisal for Budge’s first IG complaint, recommended that he keep his wings and found him innocent of any wrongdoing regarding the vaccination record.
Nevertheless, according to Hill-Budge and Younts, Budge has been kept from flying, he has not been promoted, and the December reprimand remains in his file.
Younts said the IG is still investigating, but since the investigator reports to the same commander Budge does, he questions whether the investigation is truly impartial. He also said that the commander was ignoring the board’s recommendation in retaliation for the second IG complaint.
Younts expects the second investigation to result in Budge losing his wings — and his military career of almost two decades. He also wouldn’t be able to fly as a civilian if that happens, Younts said. Budge could appeal that decision in court, but only after the fact.
The 7th Infantry Division public affairs officer told Just the News that Budge should be flying soon. Younts, however, said that was news to Budge.
“He has heard nothing,” he said. “No news.”
Even if the division’s statement is true, however, it says nothing about the reprimand in Budge’s file or his denied promotion.
Younts said the whole thing boils down to Budge’s commanding officers being “very upset that he didn’t just immediately get the vaccine, and that he asked questions and pushed back.”
Hard to imagine authority figures in President Joe Biden’s military being upset with someone who didn’t blindly obey their every desire, but there you go.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.