Skip to content

US Air Force Academy says three cadets who refused COVID-19 vaccine will not be commissioned military officers but will earn bachelor’s degrees

WASHINGTON — Three U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who refused the COVID-19 vaccine will not be commissioned military officers but will earn bachelor’s degrees, the academy announced Saturday.

Academy spokesman Dean Miller says a fourth cadet who had refused the vaccine until about a week ago has decided to get vaccinated and will graduate and become an officer of the Air Force.

In a statement, Miller said that while the three would graduate, “they will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force until they are vaccinated.” He added that a decision on whether to require the three to reimburse the United States for education costs in lieu of service will be made by the Secretary of the Air Force.

As of Saturday, the Air Force is the only military academy, so far, where cadets are not commissioned due to vaccine denial. All of the more than 1,000 army cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduated and commissioned earlier today and all have been vaccinated.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., said Saturday that none of the Navy or Marine Corps seniors were barred from commissioning due to vaccine denials. That graduation is later this week, and the Air Force ceremony is Wednesday in Colorado. Ahead of the ceremony, the US Air Force Academy Board of Trustees conducted its standard review on Friday to find out if this year’s class had met all graduation requirements.

Members of Congress, the military, and the public questioned whether exemption reviews by the military services had been fair. There have been several lawsuits filed against the warrant, mostly centered on the fact that very few service members have been granted religious exemptions from the shootings.

Until the COVID-19 vaccine, very few military personnel requested religious exemptions to all vaccines.

Lt. Col. Brian Maguire, a spokesman for the Air Force Academy, said a week ago that the four cadets had been briefed on the potential consequences and had met with the academy’s superintendent. And he then noted that they still had time before graduation to change their minds – and one of them did.

Military academies have for years required that students, under certain circumstances, reimburse tuition if they leave during their junior or senior year. Often these cases involve students with disciplinary or similar issues. Costs can reach $200,000 or more, and any final reimbursement decisions are made by the duty secretary.

Across the military, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have fired up to 4,000 active duty members for refusing the vaccine. Those who categorically refuse the vaccine without asking for an exemption are always sent back. But courts have blocked further dismissals of service members who have requested religious exemptions.

According to the military, as many as 20,000 service members have applied for religious exemptions. Thousands have been refused.

Approximately 99% of the active duty Navy and 98% of the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army received at least one shot.

ABC News

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.