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When a viable vaccine was found for the novel and sometimes deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the world rejoiced. And understandably so. Naturally, people from just about all walks of life rushed to get their vaccines as soon as they could.

Just as naturally, the federal government and hundreds of local leaders and employers have encouraged anyone and everyone to do their part to make our communities safer by getting the vaccine. And many have followed their advice.

But not all.

Like all vaccines, the one for COVID is entirely optional. No one can force you to get it, or at least they shouldn’t be able to. I mean, none of the available versions are even FDA approved yet.

How can they require something if the nation’s medical approval board does not approve it? The fact is they can’t. But they can sure as hell push you to your breaking point until you decide to get it.

And the kids at West Point Military Academy know that better than most.

Last week, Fox News’s Sean Hannity reported that of the 4,500 cadets currently attending the academy, only about three dozen haven’t gotten a vaccine.

Why? Well, most of them have already had COVID, so their chances of ever getting the disease are slim to none. The remaining few have reasonable doubts and concerns about the vaccine’s effectiveness, as well as what the long-term effects may be.

And for that, these cadets have been placed in near solitary confinement, ostracized by their peers, and forced to endure regulations and rules no one else on campus is subjected to.

Hannity reported that the unvaccinated cadets were separated into their own platoon for summer Cadet Field Training. They have stricter mask requirements than anyone else, with several receiving a “negative counseling report” for not wearing a mask while sitting outside on bleachers.

Additionally, “other cadets have allegedly instructed not to socialize with them,” causing division within the academy and making way for repeated bullying of the unvaccinated. According to Hannity, “They have repeatedly been called names like ‘dirty’ and treated as ‘the other.'”

The academy even released a spreadsheet “divulging personal medical information of those who were and were not vaccinated.”

Talk about a HIPPA violation…

But Hannity says that’s far the worst of it.

It seems that the academy’s medical officer Col. Laura Dawson, has been behind it all. According to sources attained by Hannity, Dawson has “berated multiple cadets, allegedly threatening them, calling them selfish.” She’s even told a few they would have to get the shot or be forced to leave the academy.

For cadets and parents alike, the disrespectful treatment and constant haranguing are downright unacceptable.

One cadet who spoke to Hannity on the condition of anonymity said, “It’s like solitary confinement – for a disease we don’t have.”

As parent Brian McDonald says of his daughter, “She’s in a position where she’s had COVID, she recovered from COVID, she has the antibodies for COVID ad West Point is putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on her to take the vaccine for COVID. It’s clearly not about the science anymore….”

Another parent, Elita Perusek, has a son attending the academy and says that he had to arrive seven days early to ‘self-quarantine.’ But she says it was more like “isolation.” He had to be in his room for 23 hours. He was allowed to leave for an hour to exercise, but he wasn’t allowed to talk with anyone, to interact with anyone for those seven days.”

West Point grad himself and now father to a cadet there, Mathias Sampson explained that his daughter has “valid concerns about this vaccination – concerns pertaining to fertility, long term effects. The Centers for Disease Control, nor West Point, have answers to these concerns.”

And that means they have no right to subject their cadets to such a coercion campaign.

These cadets, just like any other American citizen, have the right to decline medical treatments they don’t need or that might be harmful to them. And no one, especially not one of our nation’s most prestigious military academies, should be able to punish them for that.

It’s behind appalling, to say the least.