More than 60,000 Army soldiers may lose their pay and benefits for refusing the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The deadline to comply with the mandate was last Thursday. On Friday, the Army announced 40,000 National Guard and 22,000 Reserve soldiers who refused to be vaccinated were no longer allowed to participate in their military duties, according to military news website Military.com.
“Soldiers who refuse the vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption request are subject to adverse administrative actions, including flags, bars to service, and official reprimands,” Military.com quoted an Army spokesperson as saying Friday. “In the future, soldiers who continue to refuse the vaccination order without an exemption may be subject to additional adverse administrative action, including separation.”
The Army released its latest COVID-19 vaccination data Friday. Among the data, which was updated as of Thursday’s deadline:
- 4% of Active Army soldiers were not fully vaccinated.
- 13% of Army National Guard soldiers were not fully vaccinated.
- 11% of Army Reserve soldiers were not fully vaccinated.
- 1,299 Active Army soldiers were removed from service.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for Army soldiers came as the service, as well as the other branches of the military, is struggling to recruit potential soldiers. Last month, the Army got rid of its requirement saying potential recruits must have a high school diploma or GED certificate in order to enlist.
Army officials have stopped short of outlining a clear plan on removing part-time soldiers, particularly Guardsmen, from service for continuing to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As of now, Guardsmen are barred only from attending federally funded drills and other training events, which make up the bulk of their service.
“We’re going to give every soldier every opportunity to get vaccinated and continue their military career,” Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army Guard, told Military.com in an emailed statement. “We’re not giving up on anybody until the separation paperwork is signed and completed.”