Millennium Post

Sikh American soldier’s battle for the turban inspires many

‘If the militaries in Canada, England, India and progressive nations allow Sikhs to serve in turbans and beards, then why can’t the US?’

That was the question that Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, the first Sikh soldier in a generation allowed to keep the articles of his faith, posed to his commanders back in 2009.
Then he was told that he cannot wear his turban and beard while in service.
Eight years earlier when he joined the US army he had spoken with the recruiters and ‘they said ‘it’s not an issue, not a big deal’ because they had seen other sardars in service,’ Kalsi told IANS on phone from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Before the policy change in 1981 there were many Sikhs who served in all the branches of the military all the way from early 1900 and many serving Sikh soldiers were grandfathered in, he said naming two retired officers, Col G. B. Singh and Col Sekhon.
But Kalsi’s commanders agreed to put in a request for a waiver up the chain of command.
‘They afforded me a very amicable process, though a very lengthy one with a large amount of paperwork.’

He finally won an accommodation from the Pentagon in 2010, went on active duty at Fort Bragg and was deployed twice in Afghanistan, where he went on to win a Bronze star for service and a NATO
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