Biden did not order dishonorable discharge for military vaccine refusals, viral post claims


A new rumor on social media falsely claimed that President Joe Biden ordered the military to dishonorably dismiss military personnel who reject the Pentagon mandate on COVID-19 vaccine. This is not true.

In fact, Biden did not give any such direction and legal experts said he would not have the authority to do so. But various posts claiming the opposite have garnered thousands of Instagram engagements.

“Biden orders a dishonorable discharge for 46% of the soldiers who refuse the vaccine,” said the Instagram posts, who shared screenshots of a September 23 title from a blog site called “Sandra Rose”.

The posts were reported as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and disinformation on its news feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

When asked if Biden had issued such a directive, the White House referred PolitiFact to the Pentagon, which offered a straightforward rebuttal: “As for the Instagram claim, that’s wrong.”

Instagram posts like this one from September 27 falsely claimed that President Joe Biden ordered dishonorable dismissals for all military personnel who refused to comply with the Pentagon’s mandate on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Biden lacks the power to order dishonorable discharges

Several branches of the military have separately confirmed that they did not receive an order from the White House as described in Instagram posts. “President Biden did not order the Coast Guard to dishonorably dismiss members of the Coast Guard who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine,” the lieutenant commander said. Matthew Kroll, Chief Media Relations Officer for the Coast Guard, in one of those statements.

There are Several types members of the dump service can cope, military experts said. From best to worst, options include honorable dumps; general discharges under honorable conditions; other than honorable discharges; misconduct discharges; and dishonorable discharges. The first three are at the administrative level. But the latter two must be rendered by court martial, experts have said, so Biden does not have the power to order them.

“Under decades-old federal law, a dishonorable discharge can only be granted to a service member who has been convicted by a general court martial,” said Dwight Stirling, founder and CEO of the Center for Law and Military Policy, a think tank. , and Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Southern California.

Richard Rosen, a law professor and director of the Center for Military Law and Policy at Texas Tech University, said those who shared the posts on Instagram may have been confused by reports that the Biden administration opposed a recent legislative proposal it would prohibit military leaders from dishonorably dismissing military personnel who reject the vaccine mandate.

In response to the PolitiFact survey, the account behind a Instagram post, who got nearly 5,000 likes, pointed to an article by Fox News about that.

The Office of Management and Budget said in a September 21 administration policy statement that the administration “strongly opposes (d)” the provision, which was drafted as an amendment to the defense spending bill for fiscal year 2022. The statement that such legislation “would undermine readiness and limit a commander’s options to enforce good order and discipline when a member does not obey a lawful order to be vaccinated” .

But the administration’s opposition to such legislation is “not the same as the president ordering a dishonorable discharge,” Rosen said.

The branches of the army have set up different deadlines to have the troops vaccinated. According to Military Time, the Army’s active-duty troops have until December 15, while the Air Force and Space Force have set November 2 as their deadline, and the Marine Corps and Navy have chosen November 28.

Military personnel can request exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

It remains to be seen how each branch will deal with those who refuse the shots, but some branches have telegraphed their intentions. The army, for example, has noted that although hesitant soldiers will initially receive advice, “continued failure to comply could result in administrative or non-judicial sanctions – including discharge from duty or discharge.”

“Taking the vaccine is a requirement, and again, I’ll leave it at that,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. told Congress on September 28.

It is legally possible for servicemen who refuse the vaccine to be dishonorably dismissed, Rosen said, even though it would require a trial, with all the rights inherent in criminal proceedings.

Stirling said a dishonorable discharge is akin to a felony conviction, and that these troops are more likely to face an administrative response, which could include a written reprimand, a comment in a performance review, a demotion or one of the less serious forms of discharge.

Vaccination rates are higher in the military

The Instagram post’s claim that “46% of the troops” refused the vaccine came from Sandra Rose’s blog post, who said 600,000 of the more than 1.3 million active duty members had “refused to roll up their sleeves.” These figures are not correct.

According to Pentagon June data, the United States employs nearly 1.38 million active-duty soldiers, plus nearly 800,000 National Guardsmen and Reserves. That’s about 2.18 million in total.

Pentagon data shows that to September 29, 1.28 million active-duty soldiers, National Guard and Reserve troops had been fully vaccinated and 384,824 had been partially vaccinated. This means that about 76% were fully or partially vaccinated, and about 59% were fully vaccinated. It also means that almost 24% had not received any vaccine.

Pentagon spokesman Major Charlie Dietz told PolitiFact that as of October 1, about 95% of active-duty troops had been fully or partially vaccinated.

Dietz said the military’s vaccination rates had risen dramatically as a result of the tenure and that he was unaware that anyone had been released for refusing to comply.

Our decision

Instagram posts said, “Biden orders dishonorable discharge for 46% of troops who refuse vaccine.”

There is no evidence that Biden gave such a directive, and military law experts have said he would not have the legal authority to do so as president. The percentage of active duty military service members who have been partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is around 95%, and the timelines are in a month or more.

We rate this post as false.

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