4 Air Force cadets may not graduate due to vaccine denial
May 14, 2022 – Four seniors from the US Air Force Academy may not be allowed to graduate because they refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, The Associated Press reported.
The Department of Defense last year required all military service members, including military academy students, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have an exemption. Service members are also required to take a host of other vaccines.
Air Force Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maguire said the situation could change because “there are still two weeks left until graduation, so their status could change as cadets assess their options,” the Associated Press said.
Graduation is scheduled for May 25 at the Air Force Academy campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Maguire also said two juniors, a sophomore and six freshmen refused to take the vaccine.
A possible consequence for Air Force cadets is having to reimburse the government for tuition. US military academies sometimes require students to return these fees, which can be as high as $200,000, if they leave during their junior or senior years, the Associated Press said.
The U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY, and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, say none of their seniors will miss their graduation due to vaccine denial, the Associated Press said. .
Mike Rose, a lawyer representing three of the senior cadets, said they could graduate late and be commissioned if they go ahead and get a dose of the vaccine, but “they have a limited time to take this decision, and they are running out of time,” The Colorado Springs Gazette mentioned.
Gordon Klingenschmitt, an Air Force Academy graduate who leads an evangelical ministry, said the four seniors opposed the vaccine on religious grounds, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “That’s why they won’t take the vaccine,” he said. “It’s not because they all hate vaccines.