Yesterday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio made noise when he put forward a new bill that will almost assuredly change things. The ‘Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act’ stops the penalization of cadets who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The bill comes after the Air Force Academy informed three Air Force Cadets that they will be allowed to graduate but will nonetheless be refused commission due to their vaccination status. Here is a summary of the bill, provided by Rubio’s Senate page:
“U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and colleagues introduced the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act. The legislation would protect cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from being punished for their choice to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. USAFA recently announced that unvaccinated seniors would not be commissioned. Cadets and midshipmen who do not commission could be forced to repay tuition, room, and board expenses for their time at the Academy.”
The bill has broad support. The Co-Sponsors include Rubio’s fellow Florida Senator, Republican Rick Scott. Scott said of the bill:
“It is shameful to punish these cadets and diminish their commitment to serve our nation over a single personal health decision. I am proud to join Senator Rubio on this common-sense measure to protect the cadets and midshipmen of our nation’s service academies.”
And that’s the kicker — to receive or not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal health decision. We have never once told people not to receive the vaccine. It could be a good decision for you and your loved ones. We only stand opposed to mandates.
We feel mandates are not suitable for our nation, for they infringe on our freedom of conscience. And our Armed Forces, who lay down their lives to protect us, deserve all the respect in the world.
Rubio himself made several salient remarks about the bill, including:
“It is outrageous to punish young men and women who want nothing more than to serve their nation. These are the types of ridiculous, unnecessarily punitive measures that discourage patriotic Americans from joining the military. The Academy should stop playing politics and focus on preparing cadets and midshipmen for their future service.”
What Senator Rubio said is absolutely correct. Our politicians need to do more to prop up our men and women in uniform. They should never seek to diminish them or their achievements. But what the Air Force Academy did to those cadets is unacceptable. We are glad people are taking action.