Data: Only 43 Of Over 8,000 Discharged From U.S. Military For Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine Re-Enlisted

U.S. Army soldiers salute during a memorial service. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:16 PM – Thursday, November 16, 2023

Data from U.S. military branches shows that only 43, or less, out of the over 8,000 U.S. service members who were dismissed for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccination have attempted to re-enlist.


The Defense Department was forced to repeal the vaccination requirement in part because of the argument made by many Republicans that the requirement hindered attempts to attract and retain military personnel.

Another point mentioned was that the COVID-19 vaccines did not actually prevent those who received them from catching the virus or transmitting it to others, as opposed to other vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccination was required by the military from August 2021 to January 2023, before it was legally revoked as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. This was presumably the first time in U.S. military history that a vaccination mandate was lifted.

Now, according to service officials, only 19 troops have returned to the Army since the repeal, while 12 have rejoined the Marines. Additionally, “just one or two” members of the Air Force and Navy have returned since, making the numbers significantly lower there. However, it was not disclosed what branches the rest of the dismissed service members rejoined.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ J. Stephen Morrison, head of the Global Health Policy Center, called the figures “minuscule” and said, “I hope it helps put the issue to bed.”

Following the vaccine’s FDA approval, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered that all military personnel receive it. The Defense Department has mandated more than 15 different immunizations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the continuing battle to keep his hold on more than 300 military nominations, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville said that the vaccination requirement had “depleted the ranks” and “damaged readiness” of the force.

The Alabama Republican said that the discharge of thousands of service personnel had a negative impact on military recruiting and retention in a letter he sent last month to the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) attempted to modify the National Defense Authorization Act in July with the goal of restoring military members who were “wrongfully discharged” due to the vaccine mandate.

However, only a very tiny percentage of veterans who were released from the service have applied to rejoin months after the requirement was lifted.

Experts surmised that although senior military personnel would have viewed it as an excuse to retire sooner, younger soldiers could have gone and pursued other employment opportunities.

“Some people were already on their way out of the military, and they didn’t want to get the vaccine and they just didn’t care, and I think that may account for a significant portion of the individuals represented in the data,” claimed Kate Kuzminski, the director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security.

“I don’t see this number jumping significantly,” Kuzminski said. “You might see ones and twos in the future.”

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