Fact Check: All Unvaccinated Navy SEALs Do NOT Have To Pay Back Training Costs -- Only Those Who Are In Applicable Graduate Programs And Specialized Training

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: All Unvaccinated Navy SEALs Do NOT Have To Pay Back Training Costs -- Only Those Who Are In Applicable Graduate Programs And Specialized Training It's Possible

Will the U.S. Navy force members of its elite Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) teams who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 to pay back millions for training? Not exactly: It is possible that they would have to dish out recoupment of training costs, but it is dependent on their involvement in applicable programs. And that applies to all Navy personnel, not just SEALs. While a post seems to imply that SEALs would have to pay back the cost of their specific rigorous SEAL training, a Navy spokesperson told Lead Stories that the branch would only take such action with unvaccinated service members in graduate education programs and that the branch is considering recoupment of training costs from unvaccinated service members in other specialized programs.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) published on October 16, 2021. It featured a screenshot of a tweet that read:

The Navy is to FORCE Unvaccinated SEALs to pay back Millions for training.
Quite literally the most physically fit people in this country are still being forced the Jab with Penalty of Bankruptcy.
We NEED Trump back.

This is how the post looked on Instagram on October 19, 2021:

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Oct 19 16:34:31 2021 UTC)

Active-duty service members in the U.S. Navy are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 28, 2021. The measure was implemented following a federal mandate requiring all active duty and Ready Reserve service members who do not have exemptions to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

NAVADMIN 225/21, a Navy-specific administrative message released on October 13, 2021, detailed procedures when dealing with unvaccinated service members. It established the role of COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority (CCDA), which deals with unvaccinated service members. The section "Disposition Authority" read in part:

The CCDA may seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine.

In an email to Lead Stories on October 19, 2021, Travis Callaghan, a public affairs action officer for the Chief of Naval Personnel, said of the claim:

The Navy recoups costs in the circumstance of graduate education programs such as the Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program. The Navy is exploring the potential of recouping similar training costs in other specialized programs.

Upon further questioning, Callaghan confirmed that his statement was based on the aforementioned guidance from NAVADMIN 225/21 and clarified:

The policy applies to all Navy Service Members, which the NAVADMIN defines as 'Active-duty service members and service members in the Selected Reserve only'. It does not specify any specific communities or groups.

Therefore, the guidance neither specifies nor exempts SEALs in particular.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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