If you'll remember, yesterday I brought you the story of Blake Page, a senior at the United States Military Academy who dropped out just eight months before graduatingbecause academy officials have dragged their feet in curbing outright illegal and unconstitutional Christian proselytizing as well as an environment that is not much friendlier to freethinkers than the Air Force Academy. When Page took this step, he faced the prospect of having to reimburse the Army for the cost of his education at West Point--by some estimates, as much as $300,000. Well, late yesterday, Page learned that he won't have any financial obligations. I mentioned this in an update this morning, but given the circumstances, it merits a post by itself.
Page, who is from Stockbridge, Ga., and who was accepted into West Point after serving in the Army, said he was notified Tuesday of his honorable discharge. He faces no military commitment and will not have to reimburse the cost of his education.The story also answers a big question a lot of people asked--why didn't Page stay through May? Well, it turns out that he was diagnosed with depression earlier this year.
West Point confirmed that it approved his resignation and that Page had been meeting the academic standards and was not undergoing any disciplinary actions.
Page said he had been medically disqualified this semester from receiving a commission in the Army as a second lieutenant – like his classmates will receive in May – because of clinical depression and anxiety. He said his condition has gotten worse since his father killed himself last year.So that explains a lot. Between being harassed for his atheism and having to recover from the loss of his father, Page must have figured--understandably so--that he was close to the breaking point and decided to get out for the sake of his own mental health.
You know how the fundies are going to spin this--God visited him with depression as punishment for speaking out.
It's pretty obvious why the Pentagon folded as quickly as it did. Page would have had excellent grounds to sue in order to avoid reimbursement, since he could have argued he was forced to resign due to illegal discrimination. And with Mikey Weinstein defending him, it would have been a near-certainty that Page's immediate superiors would have had to testify under oath about how they handled the situation.
Page says he fully intends to keep up the fight against fundie influence in the military. My hat goes off to him.