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Sikh Army Officer Wins Rights to Keep Turban and Beard on during Active Duty

Sikh Army Officer Wins Rights to Keep Turban and Beard on during Active Duty

In March of this year, a Sikh army captain sued the U.S. Military for discrimination. He has now won the rights to uphold his religious mandated turban and beard while on active duty.

On Thursday, the U.S. Military released its decision to grant army captain Simratpal Singh “religious accommodation”. He has been given the right to his religious headwear and facial hair, and have also added that the U.S. Army intends to gather information to develop uniform standards for religious accommodations.”

Singh is a west point graduate and earned a Bronze Star while serving in Afghanistan, he said in a press release ““My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” while also adding “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

Singh had made it his duty to serve his nation regardless of anything, and after years of cutting his hair and shaving his face, he was temporarily given permission to grow out his hair and keep a turban on in December. Assistant Army secretary Debra Wada had ordered some tests to determine whether Singh would be able to safely wear a helmet and gas mask while keeping a turban on and full beard. While Singh had to apply for this accommodation back in December, with the new ruling, he will not have to reapply for any accommodation in the future.

Reported through the Huffington Post, Simran Jeet Singh, the Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, stated “In a political context where minorities are being marginalized and attacked routinely, it is critical that our nation’s largest institutions and employers — like the U.S. military — show the country that America embraces diversity.”

Only a couple day’s after this ruling, three other Sikh soldiers filed similar lawsuits seeking the same kind of accommodation but with the Army’s promise to “develop uniform standards”, there may hope for these other soldiers to land a similar predicament as Singh.

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