Marines fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccination

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Nearly 8,000 U.S. Marines face administrative separation, the military branch’s term for firing, because they refused to take a COVID-19 vaccination. This defies an earlier August mandate from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin’s orders impacted all branches of the military. However, each branch set different vaccination deadlines for both active duty and reserve members. For the Marine Corps, that meant until Nov. 28 for active-duty members with an extra month granted to reserve service members.

As the final deadline approached, Newsweek reported that nearly 8,000 members of the Marines had refused even partial COVID-19 vaccination. At that point, the Marines had already separated 169 unvaccinated members who also had not applied for an exemption by the deadline.

An administrative separation is not punitive in nature, like a court-martial process would be, according to the Marine Corps’ own website. It’s the normal process the Marines follow to fire individuals and determines how the individual’s service will be characterized.

The Marine Corps is expected to follow this trend of firing the rest of their service members who did not follow the vaccination orders or receive an exemption.

“To date, there have been 3,192 requests for religious accommodation concerning the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. At this time, 3,080 have been processed and zero requests have been approved,” Marine Corps spokesperson Captain Andrew Wood said in a statement.

The lack of granted religious exemptions is not a new development. The Marines have not granted any vaccine exemptions based on religious grounds for the past ten years.

This means that the 8,000 Marines who face administrative separation are not likely to be granted any kind of exemption. Medical and administrative exemptions to the vaccine were previously processed for the Marines with over 1,000 granted.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger previously warned through a Daily Mail article that the military is “not bluffing” when it comes to enforcing the “direct order” of the vaccine requirement. He said, “It’s not one any of the services made up. If you could rewind the clock and remove all the political football of it a year ago, I’d love to find a way to do that. But we can’t.”

Because of the recent defense authorization bill, military service members cannot be dishonorably discharged for refusing to vaccinate against COVID-19. Instead, they must receive either an honorable discharge or a “general discharge under honorable conditions.”

In addition to the Marines, there were 3,800 Army soldiers and 5,731 active sailors within the Navy who also refused the vaccination. The Air Force, which set the earliest deadline at Nov. 2, previously discharged 27 of their service members for disobeying the vaccine mandate.

Rather than outright dismissing soldiers, the Army previously stated they would flag their unvaccinated members. These soldiers are not eligible for promotion or contract renewal.