Thousands of American service members are facing disciplinary action — up to dismissal — if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday.
With vaccination deadlines looming, the two top Marines pleaded with the troops.
“We need every single Marine in the unit to be vaccinated,” said General David Berger, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant. “We don’t have extra Marines.”
With 91% fully vaccinated, the Marines are on track to have the worst record of all the services.
The Navy, which had the most serious outbreak of COVID aboard the carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt, has the best record: 97% fully vaccinated.
U.S. Navy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham said that service members who do not get vaccinated “can be administratively separated for not following a direct order.”
Davis Younts is an attorney and member of the Air Force reserve who is representing approximately 40 service members from all branches, 22 of whom are Navy SEALs. Younts himself is refusing the vaccine.
“My clients don’t think that this has been driven by military readiness, by medical reasons, or even by just good order and discipline in the military,” Younts said. “It feels very, very political.”
It is political in Oklahoma, where the Republican governor has decided that soldiers in the state National Guard are not required to get the vaccine.
“Freedom is our ability to say no, including to a vaccine,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.
The Army responded to that with a memo stating any soldier — active duty or National Guard — who refuses will be forced out of the service, regardless of what a state governor says.