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Soldiers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine and have not requested an exemption will no longer be allowed to re-enlist or be promoted, effectively ending their military careers. The new directive applies to active-duty troops as well as reservists and National Guardsmen, including those serving in states whose governors do not require the vaccine.
The Nov. 16 memo, signed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, says troops’ service records will be flagged the day they make their final vaccine refusal, which follows a meeting with a medical professional and a secord order to get vaccinated. This flag will bar them from being promoted, reenlisting, continuing to receive enlistment bonuses, attending service-related schools, or receiving tuition assistance.
“I authorize commanders to impose bars to continued service…for all soldiers who refuse the mandatory vaccine order without an approved exemption or pending exemption request,” Wormuth wrote in the memo. “The Soldier will remain flagged until they are fully vaccinated, receive an approved medical or administrative exemption, or are separated from the Army.”
The issue of vaccinating the force, including the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Army National Guard, has come to a head in recent days. Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt has rebuffed President Joe Biden’s directive that all federal employees, including troops in uniform, be vaccinated, and his state’s adjutant general has told Oklahoma National Guardsmen that they need not comply with the directive.