US Army Grants Waivers to 14 Sikh High Schoolers

Matthew Cox at Military.com reports the US Army has granted 60 religious accommodations to Sikhs entering the service, most recently to 14 high schoolers who will soon enlist:

Army Lt. Col. Kamal Kalsi, who is the president of the non-profit advocacy group that promotes Sikhism and military service, was surprised to learn there are 13 other high school students who will be allowed to enlist in the Army and openly serve as Sikhs.

This is a new milestone, he said.

“It shows progress,” Kalsi told Military.com, adding that he has been involved in this effort since he was granted the first such accommodation in 2009. “I was the first to get the accommodation for turban and beard way back in the day.”

Kalsi, who is also president and founder of the Sikh-American Veterans Alliance (SAVA), noted the ultimate goal is to not even need “accommodations,” but to rather have the base policy allow Sikhs to maintain their articles of faith. Until then, they will continue to seek such waivers and exceptions.

With an almost tongue-in-cheek flair, Kalsi noted his religious exercise has never affected his performance:

“When I deployed, nobody cared that I had a turban and a beard; they only cared that I did a good job,” said Kalsi.

Now, if we could just get some activists to show that kind of respect to Christians who exercise their faiths. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein just about had an aneurysm when a Christian had a Bible on their desk, which is a fairly benign display of faith. Kind of interesting that he doesn’t mind religious turbans and beards, isn’t it?

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One comment

  • I agree that “waivers” should nit have to exist. I view the “waiver” as being a type of “permission slip” to exercise a right that is guaranteed to everyone, military or civilian, to freely exercise the tenets of their faith absent governmental interference.

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