My name is Christopher Collins. I am an 11.5 year veteran of the USCG, father of two, and was discharged on November 7th, 2022 for refusing to take the experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
I joined the USCG in 2011, and began my career as a non-rate at ANT Moriches, on Long Island, NY. My unit was in charge of over 33% of the seasonal aids to navigation on the entire east coast.
After three and a half years stationed there, I attended AMT A-School to pursue my goal of working in the aviation field. Upon graduation I was assigned to HITRON Jacksonville, in Jacksonville, FL. Our primary mission there was counter-narcotics. Over my 4 years there I was deployed 4 times, and assisted in the seizure of roughly 31,000 lbs of cocaine with an estimated street value of $417 million, and the arrest of 30 suspected narco-traffickers. While serving there, I was promoted to the rank of E-5, and immediately put into a leadership position that had me overseeing approximately 20 junior enlisted members on a daily basis.
When my tour and HITRON was complete, I was assigned to AIRSTA Houston, in Houston Texas. Because of my experience at HITRON, I was assigned to the units maintenance shift. I spent the next two years floating between shifts, acting as the shift supervisor wherever I was needed. I completed Flight Mechanic C-School in April of 2021, and completed my Flight Mechanic qualification shortly after.
I submitted a Religious Accommodation to the COVID-19 vaccine shortly after the mandate came down. Members who had refused the vaccine were deprived of critical job training opportunities, had their leave and liberty restricted to within 50 miles of work, and were forced to wear masks when those who were vaccinated were not. We have repeatedly told CG leadership that what they were doing was not legal, and cited them the specific laws and regulations attesting to that. I was told that I no longer had rights since I "signed on the dotted line", and our protests fell on deaf ears.
In spite of all this I continued to stand the watch, and while standing duty as a Flight Mechanic, I operated on 3 live search and rescue cases, which resulted in 13 lives saved. One of the cases that I was on was saving 9 workers from a burning oil rig. This case received international attention, and I was awarded an Air Medal that was presented to me by the District 8 Admiral. The coast guard used this case as a promotional piece, and created a video that they posted to their social media accounts (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=447353140612934).
Three months later, that same Admiral approved my discharge for refusing the COVID vaccine.
A few months before I received my notice of separation, I was grounded from flight operations because of some serious health concerns. I was ordered to see multiple specialists, and was still seeking a diagnosis when I was officially discharged from the Coast Guard. Even though we are required to be fit for full duty before being discharged, the medical staff just told me to "Take care of it with the VA when you are discharged".
Despite a decorated career, receiving 18 awards ranging from Unit Commendations to an Air Medal, I was only given a 30 day notice before my separation. I was deprived of the opportunity to do any transitional training and because of the health issues that came up while I was in the service, the career in aviation I had been pursuing my entire service is over. Now, I am officially discharged from the coast guard, dealing with medical issues, caring for a newborn, and with no income for the foreseeable future.