The Coast Guard Academy is disenrolling seven cadets for failing to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, after their requests for religious exemptions were denied and they were ordered to leave campus.
The academy in New London confirmed the disenrollments to NBC Connecticut. A lawyer for several of the cadets said they were told on Aug. 18 that they had to leave campus by 4 p.m. the next day.
Lawyer Michael Rose said two of the seven cadets had no homes to return to. The cadets’ names have not been released.
The cadets' lawyer said academy officials were “particularly mean-spirited” and could have waited until pending lawsuits challenging the military’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement were concluded.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last year made the COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for service members, including those at the military academies, saying the vaccine is critical to maintaining military readiness and the health of the force.
At least 98% of all active duty military members are either fully or partially vaccinated, according to the military branches. To date, about 5,700 service members have been discharged from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps for refusing to get vaccinated.
Earlier this year, three cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy who refused the vaccine were not commissioned as military officers but were allowed to graduate with bachelor’s degrees, while the other military academies said all their cadets were in compliance with the vaccine mandate.
Coast Guard Academy spokesperson David Santos said the seven cadets were found to be in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for disobeying a superior officer and failing to obey an order or regulation. The cadets requested religious exemptions that were denied by school officials, he said.
"These cadets disobeyed the order to become vaccinated against COVID-19, and as a result, were disenrolled from the Academy," Santos said in a statement.
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