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Unvaccinated Air Force cadets won’t be commissioned, will get their degrees


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Air Force Academy announced Saturday that three unvaccinated Air Force Cadets will get their college degrees, but will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force following their graduation.

In a statement, Dean Miller with the USAFA said:

"On Friday, May 20, the U.S. Air Force Academy Board conducted their standard review of whether the Class of 2022 has met all graduation requirements. For the three cadets refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, the Academy Board recommended approval of a Bachelor of Science degree. While they will receive a degree, they will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force as long as they remain unvaccinated. A decision to reimburse the United States for education costs in lieu of service will be made by the Secretary of the Air Force."

Last week, USAFA announced that four seniors remained unvaccinated. Days later, one cadet got vaccinated and another resigned from the Air Force Academy.

According to Dean Miller with the USAFA, the only option graduating seniors have is, "to obey the lawful order and receive the vaccine. Another option is they can elect to voluntarily resign. Otherwise, they will face consequences for disobeying a lawful order."

Tuesday, 13 Investigates spoke with the father of Nathan Suess, a cadet that remains unvaccinated.

"He said 'no this is wrong and unlawful,'" Suess said. "Nathan heard nothing from them for months."

Suess and twelve other cadets, four seniors, two juniors, one sophomore, and six freshmen were denied religious accommodations.

"He's under tremendous pressure and lots of people just say give in, but he wrestling with it," Suess said. "He knows this is wrong, it's immoral, it's illegal but the Academy is not letting up."

A protest against the decision is scheduled for 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday at the Academy, outside the graduation ceremony.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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