Army Tells Atheist Former West Point Cadet: You Owe Us $250K For Resigning
resigned, saying he could no longer stomach the incessant proselytizing by Christian commanders. Now the Army wants Page to pay them as much as $250,000 in tuition reimbursements.
The notification this week that he would be hit up for the fees blindsided Blake Page, 24, who says that top leadership at West Point assured him that "recoupment" of costs for his taxpayer-funded education would be waived when he left the school in December. The Army’s move to deny the waiver — rejecting recommendations of the three-star general who runs West Point — was within its authority, but unusual enough to raise eyebrows. "As a general matter, the secretary of the Army usually follows recommendations that come up through the chain of command," Philip Cave, a retired Navy judge advocate who practices military law in Alexandria, Va.The head of the watchdog Military Religious Freedom Foundation says, "This may be the clearest example I’ve ever seen of reprisal and retribution. It sends an extremely dangerous message to anyone who wants to stand for their constitutional rights." Even if he had graduated, Page was not going to be made an officer.
Page had been diagnosed with clinical depression during his time there and was told that he was not qualified to be a commissioned officer, according to military documents. Nonetheless, he said, he was in good academic standing and on track to graduate in May. But the senior classman, a self-described atheist, decided to forego his diploma. "I could have stayed and graduated," said Page, who established a Secular Students Association at West Point. "By resigning I was able to make a very loud and bold statement. I believe it had some positive impact on the non-religious cadets."