U.S. Army plans to discharge soldiers who refuse COVID vaccine

Service members may be issued a General or an Honorable discharge for refusing the vaccine.

Updated: February 2, 2022 - 4:33pm

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The U.S. Army announced plans Wednesday to discharge unvaccinated soldiers who do not have an "approved or pending" COVID vaccine exemption request.

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, a Biden appointee, issued a directive instructing commanders to "initiate involuntary administrative separation proceedings against any Soldier who has refused the COVID-19 vaccination order and does not have an approved or pending exemption request."

The vaccine mandate applies to regular soldiers, active-duty reserves and cadets.

Service members may be issued a General or an Honorable discharge for refusing the vaccine. They will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and may be subjected "to recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays."

Those who are denied vaccine exemptions will be forced to either get vaccinated or submit a final appeal. 

Unvaccinated service members must comply with COVID-19 testing requirements and will be counseled by Army leaders about the benefits of receiving the vaccine, according to the press release.

The Army previously stated its goal was to have all active-duty soldiers vaccinated by Dec. 15, and at that point, 96% of all soldiers were fully vaccinated. The Army reported receiving thousands of exemption requests.

The Army is currently facing recruitment issues as fewer people have joined during the COVID-19 pandemic.