The Navy has discharged 45 members; the Marines, 399; and the Air Force, 111, according to data from each of the service branches. The Army said it has not “involuntarily separated any soldiers solely for refusing” the vaccine, though it has issued more than 3,000 general officer reprimands against those who have not yet complied.
Many of these service members applied for vaccination exemptions, many of which have been granted for administrative or medical reasons. However, the military has issued only three religious exemptions, even though 2,910 Army soldiers, 5,230 Air Force airmen, 3,258 Navy sailors, and 3,428 Marines have applied for one.
Several GOP governors are fighting the military vaccine mandate, calling it “unconstitutional.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in December that he directed his state’s National Guard members not to comply with the mandate.
However, a previous challenge against the military vaccine mandate, filed by Oklahoma, failed after a federal judge ruled the challenge was without merit.
“The vaccine mandate to which the governor objects is the one — in addition to the nine that already apply to all service members — intended to protect service members from the virus which has, in less than two years, killed more Americans than have been killed in action in all of the wars the United States has ever fought,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot wrote. “The court is required to decide the case on the basis of federal law, not common sense. But, either way, the result would be the same.”