WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Army has officially announced that they will begin to discharge soldiers who have refused to receive the vaccine for COVID-19, the military branch announced on Wednesday.
Under a directive issued by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, the Army will “immediately begin separating Soldiers from the service” who have not been vaccinated or do not have an approved or pending exemption request for either medical or religious reasons.
“Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth said. “Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.”
Service members who are discharged for refusing the jab “will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and may be subject to recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays,” according to a statement released by the Army.
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Most soldiers discharged likely receive a “General” characterization of service under “Honorable Conditions,” but if additional misconduct is noted they could receive an “Other than Honorable” characterization of service.
As of January 26, 2022, the U.S. Army reported that 96 percent of members had received two full doses of COVID-19 vaccine, whereas 3,350 have refused to be inoculated. In addition, approximately 5,900 have been granted temporary exemptions while their requests are being reviewed.
Soldiers who receive denials for their medical or religious exemption requests will be given seven calendar days to either begin the vaccination process or appeal the decision; if the appeal is denied, the soldier will again be given seven days to either get the first vaccine dose or be discharged.
In the summer of 2021, the Pentagon first mandated that all U.S. service members would need to be vaccinated.