Biden to Discharge Troops Refusing COVID vaccine: NOT TRUE!

After claims went viral about the US administration discharging troops who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, reports are now fact-checking and claiming that this news is simply not true. 

“Biden Orders Dishonorable Discharge for 46% of Troops Who Refuse Vaccine,” reads the text in a Sept. 29 Instagram post. Another version of the post received more than 5,000 likes in five days before it was deleted.

In an August 24 memo, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force. After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people.”

The memo continues: “Mandatory vaccinations are familiar to all of our Service members, and mission-critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself. Our administration of safe, effectiveCOVID-19 vaccines has produced admirable results to date, and I know the Department of Defense will come together to finish the job, with urgency, professionalism, and compassion.

I, therefore, direct the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin full
vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” 

Read More: Employees to be Removed if Unvaccinated Starting November 28

Because of this, people thought that members of the army who refuse vaccination would be discharged, but it doesn’t say so on the memo. 

The Biden administration hasn’t proposed dishonorably discharging service members who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But even if it did, experts say the president doesn’t have that authority.

Only a general court-martial, the military’s highest level trial court, can sentence service members to a dishonorable discharge.

If a service member is found guilty in a trial, the court-martial is still not obligated to dishonorably discharge them. 

There are five types of discharge a service member can receive upon separation from the military: honorable, general, other-than-honorable, bad conduct, and dishonorable. The last two can only be issued via conviction by a court-martial. 

“In the unlikely event that a service member is involuntarily discharged via administrative action for refusal to take the vaccine, he would most (likely) receive one of the first three types of discharge, most likely an other-than-honorable,” said Dwight Stirling, CEO of the Center for Law and Military Policy.

“An other-than-honorable discharge, while not something any service member wants as it is analogous to being fired, is a far cry from a dishonorable discharge, which is analogous to a felony conviction.”

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