Biden Administration ‘Strongly Opposes’ Honorable Discharge for Troops Who Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine

September 22, 2021 Updated: September 24, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration on Sept. 22 came out against efforts to prevent dishonorable discharges for U.S. troops who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Office of Management and Budget said in a policy statement it “strongly opposes” an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that bars any discharge but honorable for service members.

The provision “would detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination,” the office said, adding that commanders “must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures” in order to have “a uniformed force to fight with discipline.”

The amendment received support from members of both parties during a markup of the act on Sept. 1. It was authored by Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a military veteran and a doctor.

At the time, Green said he understood the need for a vaccine mandate but noted that no longitudinal data is yet available for the COVID-19 vaccines, adding that service members who decide not to get vaccinated and are ultimately discharged should receive an honorable discharge.

“I am dismayed and concerned that the Biden administration is trying to remove my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that prevents anything but an honorable discharge for servicemembers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Green told The Epoch Times in an email.

“This was a bipartisan amendment—not one Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee opposed it. Nothing is more telling of the current political climate than the Biden administration refusing to respect the rights of our military that every House Democrat on the Committee voted for.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month ordered U.S. troops to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine shortly after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The order was backed by Biden, who has imposed mandates on all government workers and has ordered a mandate on the private sector.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington about the end of the war in Afghanistan on Sept. 1, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

Service members who aren’t approved for a religious or medical exemption and still don’t get vaccinated will face discipline, the Pentagon has stated.

“Our commanders have a range of tools available to them short of using the Uniform Code of Military Justice to again try to get men and women in the department to make the right decision here,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a briefing.

The Biden administration also said it opposes another amendment, which would exempt troops who demonstrate they have recovered from COVID-19 from the mandate.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The protection afforded by recovery is known as natural immunity, and some scientists argue those who have it shouldn’t have to get vaccinated.

That amendment “would create a new and overly broad exemption from the vaccination requirement for previous infection that would undermine the effectiveness of the requirement,” the Office of Budget and Management stated.

If the provisions don’t stay in the NDAA, they could be passed separately. Four senators on Sept. 21 introduced a bill that would prevent dishonorable discharges for troops who don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.