Pentagon media secretary Admiral John Kirby said Wednesday that troops who refuse mandatory covid vaccines might need counseling.
Kirby said during a media briefing that some exceptions would be allowed from Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin’s vaccine mandate across the Armed Forces, but that anyone who refused for reasons outside certain parameters would have to undergo counseling from both medical exports and their commanders.
Kirby began by saying that, since the Pfizer vaccine was fully approved from the FDA, the military was moving forward with the vaccine process.
“What the Sec. has said to the military departments is to perform this mandatory vaccination with professionalism and skill which we always do but with compassion,” Kirby stated, noting that allowances would be given for religious exemptions and for those who have pre-existing conditions that preclude vaccinations.
“But if there is an objection outside these two frameworks, the person will be given a chance to sit down with a doctor and have that doctor communicate the risks that they are taking by not taking the vaccine,” Kirby said. “They will also be given a chance to sit down with their commander and their leadership to discuss the risks of their objection will have on the unit and their teammates.”
“The commanders have many tools available to them to aid their teammates in making the right decision for their families, their units and themselves,” Kirby said, saying that he believed commanders would use every tool they can to guarantee as many troops as possible get the vaccine.
“If the service member gets through the counseling, does not have a religious objection and still refuses to get vaccinated,” a reporter said, asking if Commanders would use the Uniform Code of Military Justice to discipline the troops who refused.
“Commanders have many tools available to them before using the UCMJ,” Kirby said. “We are going to trust that our commanders will make the right choice going forward.”
“So they will get an NJP?” the reporter asked, which was a reference to “non-judicial punishment” — which is used to “discipline troops for minor offenses.”
“I cannot give you an exact answer for every situation,” Kirby said. “Once you mandate it, as we have done, it is a lawful order. And we fully expect our troops to follow lawful orders,” he said.
Author: Scott Dowdy