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Colorado Congressman Introduces Bill To Protect Military Academy Cadets From Punishment Over Vaccines

By Danielle Chavira

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) - A Colorado congressman introduced legislation which protects military academy students who refuse to get vaccinated. Three cadets who graduated from the Air Force Academy earlier this week did not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The academy said they will not be commissioned as military officers, but will graduate with bachelor's degrees. A fourth cadet who previously refused the vaccine, but changed their mind and was able to become an Air Force officer.

Vice President Pence Speaks At Air Force Academy Graduation In Colorado
(credit: Air Force)

On Friday, Congressman Doug Lamborn introduced the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act. The bill would prevent cadets from being punished for their choice, as well as:

  • Clarify that cadets and midshipmen cannot be denied graduation for not being vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Prevent cadets and midshipmen from being dismissed from their service academy as a result of refusing to be vaccinated (i.e. for disciplinary reasons for refusing the order to be vaccinated)
  • Prevent any cadet who is not allowed to commission due to their COVID-19 vaccination status from being subject to repayment claims.

"I am deeply concerned about the decisions being made at the Pentagon that would penalize cadets for choosing not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," said Lamborn in a news release. "They are even considering asking them to pay back hundreds of thousands in tuition."

The Air Force is the only military academy, so far, in which cadets were not commissioned due to vaccine refusal. More than 1,000 Army cadets at West Point were vaccinated and commissioned.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said none of the Navy or Marine Corps seniors there are being prevented from commissioning due to vaccine refusals.

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