By Jack Phillips
“To date, Army commanders have relieved a total of six Regular Army leaders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 3,275 general officer written reprimands to Regular Army Soldiers for refusing the vaccination order,” the Army also said in a release. “As the Army accesses and discharges Soldiers and continues to refine data tracking processes, the vaccination percentages will vary slightly.”
Last week, the Army became the latest military branch to announce it has separated service members, confirming at the time that three soldiers were discharged for refusing the vaccine. The Army’s deadline to get the vaccine passed more than three months ago, and on Jan. 31, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth ordered commanders to start the process of separating those who refused the shots.
The Air Force as of March 15 as separated 212 airmen, while the Navy announced Wednesday that it has discharged 652 sailors.
The Army on Thursday confirmed it granted two soldiers permanent religious exemptions and granted 20 soldiers permanent medical exemptions from getting the shot. More than 4,000 soldiers made requests for a religious exemption and 694 for a medical exemption. Currently, the Army has about 4,228 temporary vaccine exemptions.
In August 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that all troops have to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, arguing it’s to maintain military readiness.
Some service members, including Navy SEALs, who were denied a religious exemption to the vaccine have filed lawsuits against the Department of Defense. Three federal judges have blocked the military from punishing members that filed lawsuits in response to the alleged violations in the treatment of religious exemptions.
The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Inspector General’s Office in early March announced it had opened an investigation into how the branches have handled COVID-19 vaccine exemption requests.
“The objective of this audit is to determine whether the military departments are processing exemption requests for the Coronavirus Disease–2019 vaccination and taking disciplinary actions for active duty service members in accordance with federal and DoD guidance,” Timothy Wimette, a deputy assistant inspector general in the Inspector General’s Office, said in March.
“We may revise the objective as the audit proceeds, and we will also consider suggestions from management for additional or revised objectives,” Wimette continued to say.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
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