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Former Coast Guard cadet wins settlement after fatherhood forced him from academy

Isaak Olson won a settlement from the U.S. Coast Guard that will allow him to become an officer this week after he was forced to leave in 2014 when he became a parent. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
Isaak Olson won a settlement from the U.S. Coast Guard that will allow him to become an officer this week after he was forced to leave in 2014 when he became a parent. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A former Coast Guard cadet who was disenrolled from its academy in 2014 before graduating because he became a father won a settlement against the agency that will allow him to become a commissioned officer.

Isaak Olson was prohibited from graduating when officials learned he and his fiancée had a child months before. The Coast Guard has a "maternal or parental obligation or responsibility" policy that prevents anyone with children from attending the academy.

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He was also denied the completion of his engineering degree as well.

Olson filed a lawsuit against the Coast Guard with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, which announced this week a settlement that will allow Olson to become an officer and officially obtain his bachelor's degree from the Coast Guard.

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"No one should ever have to choose between the honor of being a Coast Guard cadet and the honor of being a parent," Olson said in a statement. " I'm thankful the academy has reached a settlement that recognizes my right to both. Becoming a parent shouldn't be seen as a hardship.

"Cadets who are parents should be afforded the same opportunity to uphold the Coast Guard's standards as their peers. I look forward to the day that cadets are given the same rights as the rest of the service."

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While Olson will get to become an officer based on the agreement, the Coast Guard's policy that bans parents from being cadets at the academy remains in place, the ACLU said.

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"As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 signed by President Biden, the Department of Defense is actively revising similar policies at the U.S. Air Force, Military, and Naval academies to ensure that cadets can preserve their parental rights," the ACLU said in a statement. "The USCG Academy is run by the Department of Homeland Security."

Olson had been serving in the Coast Guard as an enlisted member instead of an officer. He argued in his lawsuit that the current policy limited his income and promotion potential with the agency.

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