WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army announced today that it will immediately begin separating soldiers from the service who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Under a directive issued by the Secretary of the Army, Christine Wormuth, commanders must initiate involuntary administrative separation proceedings against any soldier who has rejected the COVID-19 vaccination order and does not have an approved or pending waiver request. The order applies to regular Army soldiers, reserve component soldiers serving in Title 10 active duty, and cadets.
“Army readiness depends on soldiers who are ready to train, deploy, fight and win the wars of our nation,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. “Unvaccinated soldiers pose a risk to the force and jeopardize preparedness. We will initiate an involuntary separation case for soldiers who reject the vaccine order and do not await a final decision on a dispensation.”
Army Directive 2022-02 details how army commanders should proceed with separation procedures and requires them to deal with these separation operations as soon as possible. Service members who have been separated due to rejection of the COVID-19 vaccination order will not be entitled to involuntary separation pay and may be subject to reimbursement of any unearned special or incentive pay.
As an exception, soldiers who will complete their separation or retirement, or begin transitional leave, on or before July 1, 2022, will receive a temporary dispensation and will be allowed to complete their separations or retirements.
The least favorable characterization of service that can be issued is general (under honorable terms), unless further dishonesty justifies separation with a non-honorable characterization of service.
Unvaccinated soldiers who have requested medical dispensation or religious lodging are temporarily exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement while their requests are under review.
Soldiers who are denied their requests for medical exemption or religious accommodation have seven calendar days from the denial to perform one of the following or face separation procedures:
- Begin a COVID-19 vaccination regimen. If a soldier indicates intent to initiate the vaccination regimen, commanders may use their estimates to adjust the timeline based on local COVID-19 vaccination supplies.
- Submit a complaint to the final appeals authority. If a final appeal is denied, the soldier has seven calendar days from notification of denial to commencing the COVID-19 vaccination regimen.
Commanders will ensure that all unvaccinated service members comply with COVID-19 screening and testing requirements and applicable safety standards. Army leaders will continue to advise all unvaccinated individuals on the health benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Army has not yet involuntarily separated any soldiers solely to deny the lawful order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of January 26, army commanders have replaced a total of six regular army commanders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 3,073 general officers written reprimands to soldiers for rejecting the vaccination order.
Army Directive 2022-02 (Personnel actions for active soldiers rejecting the COVID-19 vaccination order and accession requirements for unvaccinated persons) will be available online on the Army Publishing Directorate’s website (https://armypubs.army.mil/ProductMaps/PubForm/ArmyDir.aspx).
The Army’s latest update on vaccination and exemption statistics is available online at https://www.army.mil/article/253543/.
For more information, please contact [email protected].