March 1, 2024
The U.S. Military Academy is reimposing restrictions on cadets who haven't been vaccinated for COVID-19 in line with an Army guidance, despite the Department of Defense's reversal on the mandate.

The U.S. Military Academy is reimposing restrictions on cadets who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 in line with an Army guidance, despite the Department of Defense’s reversal on the mandate.

West Point implemented a policy preventing cadets from traveling for sports or other events at the height of the pandemic, though it had been lifted last semester, before being reimplemented, Just the News reported.

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“The U.S. Military Academy at West Point continues to follow Department of Defense’s guidance regarding unvaccinated service members,” a spokeswoman with the U.S. Military Academy Office of Public Affairs and Communications told the Washington Examiner. “U.S. Army policy states unvaccinated service members are not eligible for official travel without prior approval from the Under Secretary of the Army. Until the policy is rescinded, West Point will continue to follow it.”

Military attorney R. Davis Younts told the outlet that restarting the rule “feels like coercion” to force vaccination on the cadets. “Is there suddenly a crazy spike in COVID deaths in West Point, New York,” or could it be the result of not having “anything left to coerce [the cadets] into compliance?”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated all U.S. military members get the initial vaccine in August 2021, though the policy was overturned in early January after Congress included it in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The department separated roughly 8,400 service members who refused to get the vaccine or get an exemption request approved while the policy was in effect.

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The Pentagon is not considering reinstating those service members who were separated or providing them with back pay, despite Republican support for such moves.

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