Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy who refused to get vaccinated will receive their degrees but cannot attend the ceremony or receive commissions.
The three cadets who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine were told earlier this month they had the option of getting the shot or not receiving a degree or commission after graduation. There was a fourth cadet who decided to get vaccinated before Wednesday’s graduation. The other three cadets will receive degrees from the academy, but they will not receive a commission.
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Besides not receiving a commission, the secretary of the Air Force will determine whether the three cadets will have to reimburse the United States for the cost of their education because they won’t be serving.
The Air Force Academy is the only military school refusing to commission graduates who aren’t vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
Vaccine requirements have bedeviled the Air Force since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin instituted them last year.
The Supreme Court has largely stayed out of disputes between service members and military branches.
Last month, the court said it wouldn’t get involved in a vaccine mandate challenge brought by an Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel who said he refused the vaccine on religious grounds. The court didn’t say why it wouldn’t take up Lt. Col. Jonathan Dunn’s case.
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In November of last year, the Air Force kicked out 20 recruits who refused to get vaccinated. A month later, the branch discharged 27 active-duty members, making them the first service members to lose their jobs for refusing to comply with the mandate.
Roughly 4,000 active-duty members have been discharged over vaccine disputes, including 2,100 Marines, 900 Navy sailors, 500 Army soldiers, and 360 airmen.