U.S. Army announced that it will start discharging those soldiers who have refused COVID-19 vaccination.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth issued a directive on Jan. 31, which establishes personnel policies and procedures for unvaccinated individuals seeking accession into the Army and Soldiers who refuse the coronavirus vaccination order.
According to the directive, commanders will initiate involuntary administrative separation proceedings for soldiers who:
- have received a lawful order to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
- have been provided a reasonable opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination
- have made a final declination of immunization
- do not have a pending or approved medical or administrative exemption.
The directive also stated that any unvaccinated soldiers already scheduled to retire or otherwise leave the Army before July 1 will not be involuntarily separated.
The soldiers kicked out of the Army for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine will receive honorable discharges, “unless additional misconduct warrants separation with an Other than Honorable characterization of service.”
NPR cited Secretary Wormuth saying that, “Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars. Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness.”
Those who have asked for a medical exemption or religious accommodations are temporarily exempt from the vaccination requirement while their requests are being reviewed.
As of Jan. 26, 96% of active troops have been completely vaccinated. Around 3,350 soldiers have refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and are set to be discharged under the directive. Meanwhile, nearly 5,900 have received temporary exemptions.
The Army is the last branch of the armed forces to discharge unvaccinated service members, after the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force have discharged a combined total of almost 600 troops.
The Defense Department began requiring members of the military to get vaccinated last summer.