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Tipsheet

Air Force Cadets Denied Commissions for Refusing COVID Vaccine

AP Photo/Stephen Dunn

Three Air Force Academy cadets will graduate Wednesday without commissions for choosing not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

When the Academy Board reviewed the eligibility of the school’s seniors for graduation, they decided the three will earn bachelor’s degrees but will not be commissioned into the Air Force until they agree to get the vaccine. They also may have to cover the costs of their education.

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They are the only graduates of any of the country’s military academies that will not be commissioned immediately upon graduation this spring (via AP).

As of Saturday, the Air Force is the only military academy, so far, where cadets are not being commissioned due to vaccine refusal. All of the more than 1,000 Army cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduated and were commissioned as officers earlier in the day and all were vaccinated.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said Saturday that none of the Navy or Marine Corps seniors there are being prevented from commissioning due to vaccine refusals. That graduation is later this week, and the Air Force ceremony is Wednesday in Colorado.

Last week, there were still four students at the Air Force Academy who had chosen not to get vaccinated, but one decided to get the shot (via The Washington Times).

One graduating cadet, said to be a cancer survivor and whose name was not disclosed, began taking the vaccine.

Attorney Mike Rose, who represents one of the reprimanded cadets, said in a telephone interview that the cancer-survivor student felt compelled to submit from fear of losing medical coverage, but now is “in anguish” over accepting the jab.

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The graduates who chose not to receive the vaccine may also be made to pay for their degree at the Academy since they are not allowed to serve in the force. These costs could exceed $200,000 and the final decision is in the hands of the Air Force’s secretary. In the past, the Academy asked students to put up these costs if they left during their junior or senior year, typically as a consequence of disciplinary infractions.

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