UPDATE: Air Force Academy Releases Official Statement After Second Cadet Suicide

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Posted: Mar 28, 2020 7:15 PM
UPDATE: Air Force Academy Releases Official Statement After Second Cadet Suicide

Source: Image by David Mark from Pixabay

UPDATE: 03/29

Another Air Force Academy senior cadet took their life this week, according to people familiar with the situation. The second suicide in a matter of days.

UPDATE: 03/30

The Air Force Academy released a statement on Monday confirming the school had found another cadet dead on campus. While being investigated, the school said no foul play is suspected and it does not appear to be COVID-19 related:

We are deeply saddened to confirm that a US Air Force Academy cadet was found dead in the cadet area Saturday afternoon. This follows another cadet death Thursday morning. Both were Cadets
First-Class.

"These tragedies have caused incredible shock and pain throughout our USAFA family," said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Air Force Academy Superintendent. "Right now we are all focused on taking care of the cadet's families and each other--our cadets, our faculty, our staff-- as we grieve this loss. We
ask for everyone's patience and respect for the families' privacy at this
time."

Academy leaders, the chaplain's office and mental health professionals are
providing support and grief counseling to cadets, faculty and staff. The circumstances surrounding the deaths are currently under investigation, but neither was COVID-19-related and foul play is not suspected in either case.

Original story: 

The U.S. Air Force Academy's superintendent informed cadet parents in an email that there are now five positive cases of COVID-19, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, at the school.

In the email that was obtained by Townhall, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said the new cases include two cadets, two civilian employees and one active duty military member. The two cadets are in isolation and the school is monitoring those who had close contact with them. The senior cadets, who are still on campus, have been restricted to the school for more than a week now:

"Two of our first class cadets have now tested positive for COVID-19. They are each in isolation here in accordance with the Academy’s COVID-19 plan, and we are closely monitoring their health. We are also identifying and monitoring anyone who may have come in close contact with them, and have closed a number our facilities for the next 48 hours in order to thoroughly clean and disinfect. Cadets have been restricted to base for more than a week, so they are no longer interacting with the community, and we have strictly limited the number of permanent party staff who have access to the cadet area.

"As of today we now have five confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 among our USAFA community members living and/or working on the installation: two cadets, two civilian employees and one active duty military member. The workspaces of the employees have been cleaned, and we are following CDC and DOD guidelines for testing and medical responses.

"I would like to reiterate that the health and safety of our cadets, our entire base population, and our greater community remains my top priority. As part of our prevention efforts we have declared Health Protection Condition C (HPCON C) at the Academy, a posture which enacts additional health protection measures and procedures. In addition, the Governor of Colorado enacted a stay-at-home order yesterday, which limits the conduct of nonessential business and activities. This order applies to all USAFA cadets, faculty and staff currently in the state of Colorado."

The increase of coronavirus cases comes as the Academy is also reeling from a cadet committing suicide this past week.

"There is currently no indication that the death was COVID-19 related," Silveria said.

"This has been a difficult week for our Academy, but despite these uncommon challenges we are pushing forward in our crucial mission for our Air and Space Forces. Thanks to the incredible ingenuity and determination of our faculty, AOCs and AMTs, this week all four classes of cadets resumed their Academic coursework – 3000 of them remotely, and 1000 at USAFA but online – and they are working hard toward completing the semester," Silveria continued. "For our First-Class cadets, that means graduation and commissioning into our Air and Space Forces. We are assessing the situation daily, but it is too soon to speculate about graduation or a date when cadets might return to USAFA."

The Academy's freshman, sophomores, and juniors have all been sent home, with only seniors being restricted on campus. Out of all five service academies, West Point, Annapolis, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Air Force Academy, Air Force Academy seniors are the only students still on campus.

Morale among seniors also appears to be at an all-time low and restriction seems to be taking a toll on their mental health, according to those familiar with the situation.

Across the Department of Defense, there are 309 cases of COVID-19 in the military, 12 of which required hospitalization. There are also 134 DoD civilians and 62 contractors who have the virus.