The panel of eight officers -- only two of whom said during questioning that they have taken the six-shot regimen -- took 40 minutes to return a guilty verdict against Pvt. Kamila Iwanowska and two hours to determine her penalty: a bad conduct discharge.
Iwanowska, 26, admitted in a court "stipulation of fact" that she refused to follow the verbal and written orders of her commanding officers. Army prosecutor Capt. Leslie Rowley said the statement was all the proof the panel needed, and neither side called witnesses.
Iwanowska, who is Polish and became an American citizen last year, told her superiors she considered the shot medically dangerous to children she might have in the future, saying the vaccine's long-term effects are unknown. As a Roman Catholic, she also cited religious reasons.
Since the vaccinations were made mandatory for all U.S. military personnel in 1998, hundreds of service members have been disciplined or discharged for refusing to take the shot. At least 37 have been court-martialed (search).
The Pentagon insists the vaccination is safe, with severe adverse reactions developing in about one in 100,000 vaccinations.
Iwanowska, who could have received a year in jail, said she was relieved to avoid imprisonment but may still appeal to upgrade her discharge.
"I certainly expected some jail time," she said. "However, the bad conduct discharge means I will no longer be serving in the Army. I'm not happy about this. I guess in a way I should consider myself lucky that I didn't get both."
Prosecutor Maj. David Tobin had asked the panel to give Iwanowska six months in jail, but said after sentencing that he was satisfied with the decision, which now goes to Fort Drum commander Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck for approval.
Iwanowska, of New York City, was charged after reporting for pre-deployment processing in January. Her unit was deployed to Iraq.
"I still believe the Army is a good place and I don't regret joining," Iwanowska said after the verdict. "I don't regret what I did, I just wish it had turned out differently."