Monday, March 22, 2010

Changing the face of the Army

At Fort Sam Houston, the Army graduates a turbaned, bearded officer.
Captain Tejdeep Sighn Rattan is a Sikh, a religion with its roots India [sic], and he's the first Sikh officer to complete U.S. Army basic training in more than two decades.


As a Sikh, Rattan is required to keep his hair uncut, including his beard and he must also wear a turban.

Both of those religious requirements were in violation of a ban on conspicuous religious articles of faith adopted back in 1981.

Last April, Rattan submitted a request to the Army asking that he be allowed to wear his turban and keep his beard while serving. In December, the Army granted his request.
(from KSAT-12)

Is this the beginning of the end of the high and tight?

On a more serious note, the KSAT piece suggests that there have been Sikh officers that have served in the Army before, and it says that the ban on "conspicuous religious articles of faith" has not always been in place. Does this mean that Sikhs in the past, pre-1981, were allowed to serve bearded and turbaned, or is there some confusion here? Can any former service members out there shed some light on this?

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