Of 3,400 soldiers involuntarily removed from duty for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, about 70 percent have received general discharges, service personnel chiefs said Wednesday. This characterization secures benefits for their veterans and, in many cases, allows them to return to the military if they choose to be vaccinated.
The remaining discharges were honorable, officials told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, though they gave no details explaining the reasons for choosing one characterization or the other.
In the fall, as the services announced their mandatory vaccination guidelines, some Republican lawmakers pushed back with concerns that troops could receive dishonorable discharges that could deprive them of veterans’ benefits, as well as concerns that preparedness would take a hit if thousands of service members were kicked out .
“I can tell you there is no operational impact on operational readiness,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David Ottignon told lawmakers. “There is no community that has signaled a case where a [leader]a non-commissioned officer or another marine is therefore not present.”
The Marine Corps fired by far the most military personnel: a total of 1,968, 20% of whom received an honorable discharge. This corresponds to almost 1% of the total force, which is around 215,000.
The Marine Corps processed all of these discharges with a reinstatement code that would allow them to rejoin the Corps if they change their mind and get vaccinated.
At that point, he added, 97% of the force was fully vaccinated.
The Navy has discharged 798 seamen – or 0.2% of the fleet – all of whom were honorably discharged, according to Vice Admiral John Nowell. To date, 99% of the active force and 93% of the total force are fully vaccinated.
The Army has separated 345 soldiers, Lt. Gen. Gary Brito told lawmakers, nine of them on honorable terms and 36 general on honorable terms. All of these soldiers are on active duty and make up about 0.07% of the active army. The reserve component of the service must be fully vaccinated by the end of June.
To date, the Air Force has separated 287 Airmen, 2% of whom have been honorably discharged, according to Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Gwendolyn DeFilippi. That makes up about 0.04% of the Air Force.
The Space Force, which has only about 8,400 Guardians total, hasn’t had to separate anyone, she added, with a 98% immunization rate across the Air Force Department.
For some of the unvaccinated troops, a handful of lawsuits are working their way through the courts, putting potential dismissals for the complainants on hold until they are resolved.
The plaintiffs filed suits accusing their respective services of wrongfully denying religious exemption requests. To date, although the services have received tens of thousands of requests, the Air Force has only approved nine, the Marine Corps three and the Army one.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/28/most-troops-kicked-out-received-general-discharges-over-covid-vax-refusal/ Most fired troops received general dismissals for COVID-Vax rejection