Navy begins discharging service members over vaccine status, as Naval readiness is called into question

As Americans hold their breath, expecting a declaration of war to come at any moment, the Navy has begun discharging service members who have decided to decline the COVID vaccine.

Forty-five service members, including 23 active-duty sailors, were released Wednesday, following the passage of the Pentagon’s November 28 deadline to produce proof of vaccination, according to an update by the Navy.

The COVID update on the Navy’s website reveals that another 22 of the discharged members were considered to be “Entry Level Separations (ELS).”

“This reflects service members who, since the time of the vaccine mandate, were separated during initial training periods within their first 180 days of active duty,” the statement reads.

The news comes as Navy officers have expressed concerns over operating under a yearlong continuing resolution (CR), which keeps spending fixed while Congress attempts to agree on a budget.

According to an article published by, the CR could mean a drastic cut to Navy recruiting efforts.

“In a hearing with the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday warned a CR would mean cutting the number of new recruits for the service to 23,000 from the 31,5000 accessions originally planned, as well as halting initial special and incentive pay and selected reenlistment bonuses,” the article states.

And earlier this month, during a speech he gave at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference, Adm. Gilday warned the CR would also disrupt progress the Navy has made on its hypersonic missile program. This is significant, as North Korea has been successfully testing its own hypersonic missiles in recent weeks.

“It’ll significantly slow us down,” Gilday said of the continuing resolution.

So why, one may wonder, as Naval readiness is called into question, would the Navy discharge service members over a vaccine.

Vice Adm. Bill Merz, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, said in defense of the move: “It is my responsibility to deliver the most capable force, and this guidance helps us maximize mission readiness. The Navy continues to execute its mission around the world while we work through the challenges of his pandemic.”

As of the Navy’s January 26 statement, more than 5,000 active members and nearly 3,000 members of the Ready Reserve remain unvaccinated. While 10 active duty service members have received medical exemptions, 59 have received administrative exemptions, and 259 more have received temporary medical exemptions. Zero exemptions have been issued on religious grounds, despite 3,258 active-duty requests.

Those who are denied exemptions and are discharged could be forced to repay the Navy’s investment in them. When the Navy laid out its plan for dealing with those who refused the mandated vaccine, it stated that, in certain cases, service members could be responsible for the cost of training and education they received. Additionally, the expelled could lose portions of their benefits, despite receiving a general honorable discharge.

Those fortunate enough to snag an exemption are subject to reassignment from their current duties.

To date, the U.S. Army is currently the only service that has not discharged active-duty members because of vaccine refusal, according to the Navy Times which noted that as of last week, the Marine Corps “had discharged 334 Marines, and the Air Force, as of this week, had discharged 111 airmen for refusing to get the shots.”


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