Marine Corps becomes first military branch to grant religious exemption to vaccine requirement

Each branch of the military has received thousands of vaccine mandate exemption requests

Updated: January 14, 2022 - 10:53am

The Marine Corps granted two religious exemptions to the military's COVID-19 vaccination mandate policy, thereby becoming the first and, thus far, only military branch to grant religious exemptions since the requirement took effect over the summer.

During its weekly COVID update, the Marine Corps said it had received 3,350 requests for religious exemptions and had processed 3,212 of them, adding that two of the requests had been granted. No additional information was offered about the details of the requests or why they were granted.

The exemptions are the first to be granted by the service in the last decade.

A statement from the Corps explained that there is a three-person Religious Accommodation board that reviews each exemption request and makes a recommendation to Deputy Commandant Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, who heads the Manpower and Reserve Affairs command.

Each branch of the military service has received thousands of exemption requests for the vaccine mandate, but none had been granted until this week.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that the service branches consider each request "in good faith," when asked earlier this week why   no exemptions had, at that time, been granted.

"We believe that there should be a channel through which men and women of the workforce who believe they have legitimate religious exemptions to seek on their behalf," he said.

Since mid-December, the Marine Corps has discharged 351 Marines for refusing to get vaccinated.