Troops could be dishonorably discharged for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Fort Campbell vaccinations
Posted at 5:09 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 12:08:14-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Troops who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine could be dishonorably discharged unless a law bans it.

If active service members don't get the vaccine by December 15, they could face punishment.

"Thirty-three years of military with six presidents, this is nothing new," said Doug Englen, a veteran who was part of the Osama bin Laden raid. "It’s very upsetting that the pendulum swings back and forth each way, and the military gets caught in the middle."

He said a dishonorable discharge is something service members get for things like murder. There’s also an other than honorable discharge which can be used for things like failing a drug test.

"Now that they’re approved, this is nothing new with the military, vaccinations have been part of the service member’s life since the beginning. For example, I’ve received 10 anthrax vaccination boosters over my career, and if I were to refuse that, I would have been non-deployable for certain regions in the world which I would have to then leave the service, but I would leave honorably," Englen said.

Congressman Mark Green has been part of the push to make sure service members aren’t discharged dishonorably for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. He passed an amendment in the defense spending bill. Next, it goes to the Senate for a vote before going to the floor.

"This is Democrats and Republicans in that committee," Green said. "100% voted for this, so it’s not just a GOP push."

However, Green said the Biden Administration is against the amendment.

"The deadlines haven’t expired yet, but they’re threatening,” Green said. “Those things are career killers even if they don’t kick them out of the military."

In some cases, veterans won't get benefits if dishonorably discharged. It could also impact future employment.

According to the Army's website, the Reserve and National Guard units are expected to be fully vaccinated by June 30, 2022.