WASHINGTON (AP) – Four cadets at the Air Force Academy will not graduate or be commissioned as military officers this month for refusing the Govt-19 vaccine and will have to pay back thousands of dollars in tuition. Air Force officers.
It is the only military academy where cadets can face such punishments. The Army and Navy say that because of the vaccine denial, not a single one of their seniors has been barred from graduating from the U.S. Army Academy in West Point, New York, or the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Graduations are in about two weeks.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last year made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for service members. Vaccination is important for maintaining military readiness and the health of troops, including those in military academies.
For decades, military leaders have argued that troops, especially those stationed abroad, must receive 17 vaccines to maintain their health. Students who come to military academies, if they have not already been vaccinated, will be vaccinated on their first day – for measles, mumps and rubella. And they get regular flu shots in the fall.
Members of Congress, the military and the general public have questioned whether the exemption reviews of military services were justified. Several lawsuits have been filed against the order, mainly focusing on the fact that some service members have been granted religious exemptions from the scenes.
Until the Govt-19 vaccine, very few members of the military sought religious exemptions for any vaccine.
Lt. Col. Brian Maguire, a spokesman for the Air Force Academy, said the vaccine status could prevent four seniors from graduating, “with two more weeks to graduate, so their status may change as cadets weigh their options.”
According to Maguire, four cadets – unnamed – have been informed of the possible consequences and have met with the academy’s supervisor. In addition to those four, there are two juniors, one sophomore and six freshmen at the academy who refused the vaccine.
Military academies may have to reimburse tuition fees if students drop out of their junior or senior year for several years. Often involving students with moral issues or similar problems. Costs may be $ 200,000 or more, and the final decision on the refund will be made by the Service Secretary.
West Point reports that no one in the 2022 class was denied access to the vaccine.
Across the Army, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have released nearly 4,000 active service members for refusing the vaccine. According to the latest data released by the service, more than 2,100 Marines, 900 sailors, 500 Army personnel and 360 Air Force personnel have been discharged from the Army, and at least 50 were discharged before entering active duty during entry level training.
Those who deliberately refuse the vaccine without exemption are still expelled. But the courts have suspended the additional dismissals of service members who demanded religious exemptions.
Last month, a federal judge in Texas barred action against sailors who resisted vaccination on religious grounds.
U.S. District Judge Reid O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction in January restricting the Navy from regulating or expelling 35 sailors who were prosecuting the Navy’s vaccination policy. In April, O’Connor agreed to move the case forward as a class action case and issued a preliminary restraining order involving about 4,000 sailors who religiously opposed the vaccination.
Last month, a federal judge in Ohio issued a preliminary injunction restraining the Air Force from regulating a dozen officers and a few additional airmen and reservists demanding religious exceptions. Officers from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, mostly near Dayton, Ohio, sued in February after their exemption claims were rejected.
According to the military, 20,000 service members have called for religious exclusion. Thousands were denied.
According to the latest data, the Air Force has approved 73 religious exemptions, the Marine Corps seven and the Army eight. Prior to the restraining order, the Navy had conditionally accepted one reserve and 26 Active-Duty requests from religious exemptions and 10 requests from individual Ready Reserve members. According to IRR approvals, those sailors do not have to be vaccinated until they are actually called to serve.
About 99% of the active Navy and at least 98% of the Air Force, Marine Corps and Army received at least one shot.
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