Story at a glance

  • Deadlines for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are quickly approaching across various military branches.
  • Veterans’ benefits range from home loans and transition assistance programs to mental health care services.
  • A service member’s local commander will determine their discharge status, which could determine what benefits they remain eligible for.

Members of the U.S. military who chose not to get vaccinated will not be guaranteed their veterans’ benefits.

Veterans that chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine and are dismissed from their posts will not receive any special protections or preferential evaluations for veterans’ benefits eligibility, with the decision being ultimately determined by their discharge status.

The decision of whether to give these veterans other-than-honorable discharges will be left to their local commanders. 

According to Military Times, Gil Cisneros, Department of Defense (DoD) undersecretary for personnel, testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and said, “We see the vaccines as a readiness issue. Any discharge decision is up to the individual service as to how they proceed with that.”

A veteran’s character of discharge determines their eligibility for a host of benefits under the federal GI Bill, like veterans’ affairs home loans and transition assistance programs. Certain benefits are still guaranteed for those who received other-than-honorable discharges like mental health care services. 


Our country is in a historic fight against the coronavirus. Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


However, Veterans’ Affairs (VA) deputy secretary Donald Remy said discharge cases will be evaluated by benefit officials to weigh, “mitigating or extenuating circumstances, performance and accomplishments during their service, the nature of the infraction and the character of their service at the time of their discharge,” according to the Times.

That is standard practice for handling all veterans’ cases, and the VA is not planning to handle vaccine refusals differently. 

The Pentagon has imposed a Nov. 22 deadline for all civilian DoD employees to be fully vaccinated, but the various branches of service have implemented their own, separate vaccine deadlines.

The Air Force had a Nov. 1 deadline for receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the most aggressive deadline amongst the different military service arms. They announced yesterday that 97 percent of its active duty component of airmen and Space Force guardians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Back in September, House lawmakers included language in a draft annual defense authorization bill that would block military officials from issuing dishonorable discharges to service members who refused vaccines. But the bill would need to pass through the Senate before becoming law in December.


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

MORE THAN 12 MILLION INVASIVE ASIAN FISH REMOVED FROM TWO US LAKES

MORE THAN 100 FLORIDA BUSINESSES, CITIES AND SCHOOLS DEFYING GOV DESANTIS DESPITE RISKING BIG FINES

CHEFS DECLARE WAR ON A TRENDY FRUIT BECAUSE OF ITS ENORMOUS CARBON FOOTPRINT

FACEBOOK DISCOVERS THERE’S ALREADY A COMPANY NAMED META

ISRAELI MINISTER OUTRAGED WHEN HER WHEELCHAIR IS DENIED ENTRY TO COP26

Published on Nov 05, 2021