Air Force discharges 40 unvaccinated service members and another 10,000 could face the ax after they failed to get the COVID-19 shot by today’s deadline

John Kirby

At least 10,000 Air Force service members face being discharged for refusing to abide by the November 2 vaccine mandate deadline – and 40 members have already been terminated.

The military branch became the first to execute disciplinary actions for staff who objected to receiving the vaccine.

Only basic military and trainees have been discharged so far, but after Tuesday, non-compliant uniformed Air Force members could also be discharged.

‘An airman or Guardian who is not vaccinated by November 2 will be in violation of a lawful general order and subject to discipline under Article 92, [Uniform Code of Military Justice]’ the Air Force said to Air Force Magazine.

As of October 25, at least 10,000 Airmen and Guardians remained unvaccinated.

More than ninety-four percent of the Air Force 330,000 active duty members are fully vaccinated, 1.8percent are partially vaccinated, and 3.6percent have yet to receive the shot.

Those who refuse the vaccine were allowed to request medical and religious waivers.

Members about to retire were also able to apply for ‘administrative exemptions,’ US News reported.

Defense Department Secretary John Kirby has said that the amount of service members who have actually obtained those exemptions is ‘very, very’ small.

Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio gained criticism last month for encouraging service members to object to the vaccine, even after Pope Francis told Catholics that vaccination was ‘an act of love.’

The Pentagon has said that lower-level commanders would oversee the implementation of the new rule, and that they ‘retain full range of disciplinary options available to them.’

Commanders overseeing higher departments such as the Security Forces commander likely issued earlier orders to their subordinates in order not to disturb their missions.

If they refused, verbal counseling, other forms of punishment such as demotion and finally discharge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were implemented.

‘The secretary’s been very clear with the leaders of the military departments that he wants them to execute the mandate with a sense of compassion and understanding,’ said Kirby on a press briefing on Monday.

It is unclear how the branch will deal with cases of unvaccinated officials who are overseas and do not have commanders nearby such as lone airmen.

‘So can we promise you that there’ll be absolute uniformity across the board? No, and we wouldn’t want to promise that because it wouldn’t be the same way we handle orders violations for other offenses, as well,’ Kirby said.

‘This mandate will be handled in a compassionate way and an understanding way, and that due counseling will be provided, both from a medical perspective and from a leadership perspective, to members who are declining to take the vaccine,’ he added.

‘Now that the deadline has passed, there’s a clear line to begin holding people accountable,’ Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told US News.

Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama shared Broglio’s views on the vaccine mandate for military members and called it ‘the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.’

‘The American people need to sound off on this. This is ridiculous. We know the virus is a problem, but you should check with your doctor. I’ve had it. If you don’t want to take it, that’s fine.’

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which falls under the Labor Department, delivered its final draft of the rule to OMB on October 12. The mandate is expected to take effect shortly after the review process is completed.

Ninety-nine percent of the Navy, 96.4percent of the Air Force, and 93 percent of the Marine Corps have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Army is also in the 90th percentile, Kirby said.

The vaccination deadline for Coast Guard and civilian employees is November 22, followed by Navy and Marines, who must be vaccinated by November 28.

The Army will have until December, while reservists and Guard units must get the vaccine by June next year.

‘These mandates are absolutely dividing our country, and I think that’s what the Democrats are trying to do,’ he said.

Last month, President Biden announced the executive order requiring all companies with at least 100 employees to garner proof of vaccination from all of their workers. Those who receive exceptions from their employees can opt for minimum weekly testing instead.

The order will affect at least 80 million workers in the US. – Daily Mail