(Headline USA) Three Air Force cadets who declined to get the COVID-19 vaccine will not be commissioned as military officers, according to the Airforce Academy.
Academy spokesman Dean Miller said that the students who refused to comply with the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will graduate with bachelor’s degrees, but will not be awarded with a higher rank like the other graduates.
“They will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force as long as they remain unvaccinated,” Miller said, adding that the students might also be required to reimburse the U.S. military for the cost of their education.
The military academies have a longstanding practice of requiring students to repay tuition costs if they leave during their junior or senior year. The costs can be as much as $200,000. Ultimately, however, the decision on whether to charge the Air Force cadets will have to be made by the secretary of the Air Force, Miller said.
The other military branches, including the Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint, said that none of their servicemembers had to be denied commission due to vaccine refusal.
Republicans have blasted the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate and urged President Joe Biden to repeal it. Back in December, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called the mandate a “grave mistake.”
“As the father of a major in the Judge Advocate General Corps who honorably served our nation in a foreign combat theater, you can fully and uniquely appreciate the sacrifices that our veterans make for America,” Issa wrote in a letter to Biden.
“As of today, however, tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are on the brink of being dismissed from service for disagreeing with your mandate or seeking a religious exemption.”