The Army said on Wednesday it will immediately begin discharging soldiers who have refused to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, putting more than 3,300 service members at risk of being thrown out soon.
The Army’s announcement makes it the final military service to lay out its discharged policy for vaccine refusers. The Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have already discharged active-duty troops or entry-level personnel at boot camps for refusing the shots.
Up to this point, the Army has not discharged any. According to data released last week, more than 3,300 soldiers have refused to get the vaccine. The Army has said that more than 3,000 have been issued official written reprimands, which suggests they are already identified in the disciplinary process, and some of them could be among the first to be discharged.
The Army will allow those who are eligible for retirement to exit in that fashion prior to July 1st. They continue to process request for exemptions for religious, medical, or administrative reasons, but thus far very few exemptions have been granted.
The troops being processed for this reason are being charged with misconduct. But fortunately for them, a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that was signed in December, they will all still receive either an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions. That’s very important, because any other sort of discharge could threaten their ability to access their veterans’ benefits after returning to civilian life.
The question now looming for all our military is this. What is this going to do to our force levels? Especially, just as we begin shifting around troops in Europe, and Biden’s order to be sending more troops to Europe. This all remains to be seen.
It has been reported that throughout all our military branches, more than 90% are vaccinated. These service members, particularly the younger ones, tend to be among the healthiest and fittest men and women in the country. That means most likely, the least to experience the most severe symptoms of COVID. Discharging them for this reason seems to be a lack of not having been well thought out by our government.