Army Allows Sikh Doctor to Wear Beard and Turban

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Capt. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi

U.S. Army Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi has become the first Sikh to be permitted to keep his turban, beard and long hair while serving on active duty as an emergency room doctor. Kalsi, who hails from a military family (his father and grandfather served in India’s Air Force, and his great-grandfather served in the army under the British), joined the Army to fulfill his commitment after attending medical school.

Army regulations since the 1980s have banned soldiers from having long hair and beards, but senior commanders decided to allow an exception for Kalsi on religious grounds. High-ranking officials made clear that the decision does not mean a change in Army policy for all personnel regarding appearance.
Amardeep Singh, director of the Sikh Coalition, said more Sikhs are likely to join the Army because of the Kalsi decision. “My guess is the Army’s going to be seeing a lot more Sikhs requesting to be a part of the Army. ... This issue is not going away,” Singh told the Associated Press.
Another Sikh, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, is hoping for a similar ruling from the Army so he can fulfill his commitment as a dentist.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Sikh Doctor Gets Army OK to Serve With Turban (by Samantha Gross, Associated Press)
Sikhs Challenge U.S. Army's Ban on Turbans, Beards (by Deepti Hajela, Associated Press)


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