A new U.S. Navy order released this week says all active-duty Navy personnel who don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine by an upcoming deadline will be discharged—with possible financial repercussions as well.
The order applies to any sailor that is not fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 by Nov. 28 and has not received a religious or medical exemption or has an application for an exemption pending.
Fully vaccinated refers to getting two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and two weeks or more having elapsed since the final shot.
The Nov. 28 deadline was already known, as is a Dec. 28 date for reserve personnel, but the new order (pdf) contained fresh details about what unvaccinated sailors face.
Any can be separated as soon as the deadline arrives without compliance, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Lescher and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell wrote in the joint order.
The discharge process will be overseen by the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority, which includes Nowell.
In the weeks before the deadline arrives, commanders were told not to let any sailors refusing a COVID-19 vaccine get promoted, reenlist, or execute orders, with the exception of separation orders.
Additionally, the sailors can be temporarily reassigned, regardless of whether they’ve received or are seeking an exemption.
Officers and enlisted members serving in leadership roles who have not gotten a shot were informed in writing they had five days to initiate a vaccination series or request an exemption. If they do neither, they’ll be relieved and have what’s known as detachment for cause, or “administrative removal of a member from a current duty for unsatisfactory performance of duty or misconduct.”
Any Navy personnel separated because of vaccine refusal will get a general discharge under honorable conditions or a higher level of discharge. Depending on the level, they could lose some veterans’ benefits.
That’s not all they could lose.
Officers may be subject to “recoupment of unearned special or incentive pays” in select cases. The COVID authority “may seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine” from sailors, the order also says.
Unvaccinated personnel could also face a court-martial.
The order drew criticism from several lawyers who are representing military personnel who are seeking religious or medical exemptions.
“This is nothing more than pure vindictiveness. There’s no legitimate reason to threaten our brave service members with court-martial or involuntary separation. And now the Navy is threatening to hurt them financially?!? You might expect a country like China or North Korea to force its people to choose between faith and country. But this is America. What the Navy is doing goes against the very fabric of our nation,” Mike Berry, general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, told The Epoch Times in an email.
R. Davis Younts, another attorney, said the order is “deeply concerning” and “appears to be targeting military members based on their faith.”
“My clients are being threatened with this simply for exercising their legal and constitutional right to submit a religious accommodation request. It appears as if the Navy may be signaling a plan to deny all religious accommodation requests without any consideration of individual cases, medical concerns, or natural immunity,” he added.
“My clients fear political motivations are the priority and the law and military readiness are being ignored. My clients believe it is as important as ever to stand strong against this mandate and continue to exercise all of their legal rights despite any threats they receive.”
This is an excerpt from The Epoch Times.
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