On January 23rd at approximately 12:30 JST, Marine Corp Lance Corporal Catherine Arnett was placed under arrest by her chain of command on charges related to her resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate as well as her resistance to related harassment by her chain of command that followed her refusal to take a medical product that violated her faith. LCpl Arnett is stationed at Marine Corp Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and has already faced court-martial on her original refusal to violate her faith. Those charges were dropped in September following an August 18, 2022 federal court injunction that precluded the Marine Corp from punishing and discharging marines who refused the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds.
All Catherine Arnett wanted to do was to be a Marine and to do her job. Following her original refusal to accept a COVID-19 vaccine, LCpl Arnett’s access to the computer system she required to do her job was revoked. She was provided no reason for this access removal, nor was she told who had authorized or executed the removal. All requests for information related to her access was ignored. With unvaccinated service members across the force being subjected to harassing “shadow policy” tricks like this, the revocation of the access to do her job looked like more of the same. If she stopped doing her job, she would not be able to continue receiving favorable evaluations and her career would likely stagnate even if the Marine Corp honored her religious accommodation request or the mandate was rescinded.
Since no official documentation or command authority had apparently authorized the revocation, Arnett resubmitted her previously approved access request with an updated date and her own signature. She did not reattach, adjust, or edit her Commanding Officer’s signature which was already on the form. Her resubmission was accepted and she was able to get back to doing her job.
Her command was aware she continued to work in her previous role with full access to her system. Her vaccination status had no bearing on her access to a computer network or her job. In fact, her Commanding Officer sent an email to her directly and thanked her for her help in processing his travel request a month after she had initially lost access to her system.
With the original court-martial charges thrown out, her command apparently tried to find some other way to remove her from the Marine Corp. The best they could come up with is a forgery charge for resubmitting her access request. The harassment did not end there, however. On January 5, 2023 LCpl Arnett reached out to her support network to ask for prayers and help with how to handle the latest attempts by her chain of command. According to LCpl Arnett, leadership “informed me that they will be interrogating me tonight in my living quarters.” She was told that her Staff Sergeant, possibly a Master Sergeant, and two of her commanders would be coming to her quarters the next day. She was concerned and seeking help and prayers for how to handle the situation. She had no support and no advocate at the January 6, 2023 interrogation when four men descended upon her in her private living quarters. She later reported that she finally told them she was “not comfortable being in my room with four men without a witness,” and so they decided to let her go for the day.
LCpl Arnett’s story is so egregious that it has attracted the attention of many who wished to provide support. One of those attempting to support LCpl Arnett is a retired military spouse now living in Tokyo who leapt to help Arnett when her story first hit the news last year. Arnett’s “Tokyo mom,” as she affectionately calls her, reported that no one from Arnett’s chain of command contacted Arnett’s emergency contact to verify her status, her health, or her safety. A friend attempted to visit Arnett in the brig at Iwakuni following her arrest only to find out she had already been moved. Arnett’s “Tokyo mom” reported that it appears Arnett has been moved to the brig at Camp Hansen in Okinawa.
Inquiries about LCpl Arnett’s health and safety have not produced any information from the Marine Corp. Arnett’s “Tokyo mom” has been forced to enlist the Red Cross in an attempt to do a wellness check and to verify her location and status. A Red Cross inquiry should just be the start, however. There is no reason to arrest a young Marine for attempting to do her job, a job required by her Commanding Officer. The harassment she has been subjected to is reminiscent of what prisoners of war are subjected to when they resist the will of their captors. Arnett’s resistance was in the defense of the Constitution and her constitutional rights. Those who have subjected Arnett to this treatment are abusing her basic human rights while they violate their own oaths to the Constitution.
For her own safety, LCpl Arnett must be removed from the custody of the Marine Corp who have proven not to be trustworthy in “taking care of their own.” It is possible the movie A Few Good Men will stop being fiction if we cannot get Arnett to safety. Once she is safe, a full Congressional Investigation is needed to discover how and why Arnett’s chain of command were permitted to tip the scales of justice so outrageously. This unlawful weaponization of the military bureaucratic machine against service members who stood up to the unlawfully executed COVID-19 vaccine mandate must end immediately.
(This article was co-authored by multiple people.)