Fact Check: The U.S. Army Is NOT Dishonorably Discharging Soldiers Who Haven't Taken COVID-19 Vaccine

Fact Check

  • by: Courtney Kealy
Fact Check: The U.S. Army Is NOT Dishonorably Discharging Soldiers Who Haven't Taken COVID-19 Vaccine No Dishonor

Has the U.S. Army officially begun dishonorably discharging soldiers who haven't taken the vaccine for COVID-19? No, that's not true: According to a Pentagon spokesperson, "No US Army Soldier has received a dishonorable discharge solely for refusing the COVID vaccination order."

The claim appeared as a tweet (archived here) where it was published on Twitter on March 20, 2022, by @ChuckCallesto. It opened:

BREAKING REPORT: US Army Officially Begins Dishonorably DISCHARGING SOLDIERS Who Haven't Taken The Vaccine...

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Mar 23 21:39:25 2022 UTC)

In an email to Lead Stories on March 21, 2022, Lt. Col. Terence M. Kelley in the U.S. Army's Public Affairs Department at the Pentagon pointed us to this statement from February 2, 2022, which specifies that

the least favorable characterization of service that may be issued is General (Under Honorable Conditions), unless additional misconduct warrants separation with an Other than Honorable characterization of service.

Kelly also wrote:

In accordance with this policy, no US Army Soldier has received a dishonorable discharge solely for refusing the COVID vaccination order.

The Army has started discharging soldiers who are refusing to be vaccinated, but the important distinction is they are not dishonorable discharges.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force ( the first branch to announce dismissals), the Marine Corps and the Navy have also all taken military actions including discharges against members of the U.S. military who have not taken COVID-19 vaccines.

The most recent COVID-19 vaccination rates and exemption requests released by the U.S. Army at the time of this writing, from March 3. 2022, are here. According to the Department of Defense, as of December 16, 2021, 98% of the Army's force -- including 96% of active-duty soldiers -- were already fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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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.


  Courtney Kealy

Courtney Kealy is a writer and fact-checker at Lead Stories. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, she specializes in national and foreign affairs with more than two decades experience in the Middle East. Her work has appeared on FOX News, AlJazeera America, ABC News, the New York Times, Marie Claire, Time and Newsweek.

Read more about or contact Courtney Kealy

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