US Army gets its first Sikh graduate in 25 years


The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News

Washington, March 23
Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a 31-year-old dentist, has become the first Sikh in over 25 years to be allowed to complete US Army officer basic training without giving up his turban or shaving his full beard. Rattan graduated on Monday at Fort Sam Houston after the army made an exemption to a uniform policy that has prevented Sikhs from enlisting since 1984 without sacrificing the articles of their faith. “I’m feeling very humbled. I'm a soldier,” media reports quoted him as saying after the ceremony. “This has been my dream.”
An immigrant from India who arrived in New York as a teenager, Rattan had to get a waiver from the army to be allowed to serve without cutting off his hair. Before 1984, Sikhs were allowed to maintain their articles of faith while serving. Rattan and Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, who will attend basic training this summer after completing an emergency medicine fellowship, are the first Sikhs to receive exemptions in more than 25 years. Rattan and Kalsi both offer health care skills that are in high demand in the force by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. — IANS