On Thursday, the United States Navy announced that it is preparing to discharge any sailors who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Making matters even worse is the fact that the sailors who are discharged will run the risk of losing their veteran’s benefits.
Fox News reported that the Navy said in a press release that all active-duty sailors must either have gotten their second shot of a two-dose vaccine or the single shot of a one-dose vaccine by November 14. Those who are on the Navy Reserves have until December 14 to get their shots.
The Navy went on to warn that sailors who do not have a pending or approved exemption by the deadlines set will face administrative actions, and “those separated only for vaccine refusal will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions.”
“This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits,” the Navy stated, going on to add that it “may also seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine.”
“Sailors must be prepared to execute their mission at all times, in places throughout the world, including where vaccination rates are low, and disease transmission is high,” the Navy continued in the statement. “Immunizations are of paramount importance to protecting the health of the force and the warfighting readiness of the Fleet.”
Navy officials have said that 98% of active-duty members have already gotten vaccinated against COVID-19. This comes two months after the Department of Defense announced that all active-duty military members must get the coronavirus vaccine shots.
“In order to maximize readiness, it is the policy goal of the U.S. Navy to achieve a fully vaccinated force against the persistent and lethal threat of COVID-19,” a naval administrative message released earlier this week stated.
While speaking at a panel at the Sea Air Space symposium back in August, Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham defended the Navy’s vaccine mandate.
“We would not send our folks into combat without flak and Kevlar,” Gillingham said at the time, according to The Navy Times. “The enemy this time is a virus, and we have a biological body armor for them to take and use to protect them … this is biological body armor. Put it on, be protected.”
Sadly, people who are eager to risk their lives to serve our country may soon be discharged and stripped of their benefits simply for refusing to get this vaccine.