Dear MMA parents,
Thank you for the on-time return of your cadets to the Academy on Sunday, enabling them to smoothly transition back into the classroom and their athletic practice schedules. They will be busy for the remainder of the spring semester as they complete their academic work, compete in spring sports, and prepare for Spring Family Weekend, Maroon & Gold, commencement and more.
As we look forward, however, the news that broke this past weekend concerning cadets from West Point — one of the most prestigious education institutions in our nation —forces us to pause. Five West Point cadets were involved in a fentanyl overdose. The incident is a sobering reminder of the challenges that we, as educators and parents, face in our society today.
Unfortunately, MMA cadets are not immune to high-risk behavior and potential involvement with drugs that may jeopardize their health, threaten to derail their futures and could take their lives. The commandant and I are frequently asked what keeps us up at night. We are always concerned about the risk of medical emergencies involving cadets, and the thought of a cadet’s possible death due to drug use or overdose is at the top of our list.
Together with you, we must continuously teach cadets the importance of making positive, healthy choices and hold them accountable. Unfailingly, we must address the very real dangers and maintain a solid partnership and open communication. Our partnership with you is key to our success.
We have policies, procedures and the resources in place to make it as hard as possible to bring contraband onto our campus and to hold those who possess contraband accountable for their wrongdoing. This weekend three cadets attempted to return from spring furlough with contraband, which included nicotine and THC vapes, vaping chargers and fake cell phones.
What may start out as a seemingly minor infraction can quickly grow and spur more unhealthy decisions and serious consequences. Cadets attempt to turn in fake cell phones to their CLAs to avoid having to hand over their real ones, which creates an avenue for other poor choices. In addition, the list above includes contraband that was intended for distribution to other cadets.
We are particularly concerned about vaping, because too often it is a doorway to drug use. Cadets do not know what is in the vaping cartridges, and we are familiar with the risk that dangerous vapes pose, as evidenced by a medical emergency involving a cadet that occurred in a previous academic year at MMA.
Thanks to our established procedures and astute observation by our CLAs on Sunday, these illegal and prohibited items were promptly discovered, each cadet involved was held accountable with consequences, and parents were promptly notified. One of the young men is no longer an MMA cadet.
Your trust of MMA’s process and our transparency are critical as we work together to ensure cadets reach their full potential. We must deliver a consistent message of care and concern to let cadets know that, because we love them, they will be held accountable by both their families and the Academy for any high-risk, unhealthy behavior.
The good news is that the majority of our cadets do make sound, positive choices, but we know the tendency of the adolescent brain, particularly in boys, to sometimes act impulsively, without thinking through all consequences. Even the best and brightest (as seen in the news about the West Point cadets this past weekend) can falter.
I encourage you to talk to your cadets about healthy choices and the dangers of high-risk behavior. Remind him of our combined high expectations and help him uphold the standards by paying attention to his behavior, questioning when needed, and not being afraid to search his belongings before his return to MMA from an open weekend or furlough. Help him stay safe and on the path to success.
Thank you for your continued support as we care for and educate your cadets.
Richard V. Geraci