Patriotic Sikhs Unable to Enlist Due to Uniform Standards

February 27, 2004

Source: The Sacramento Bee

On February 27, 2004 The Sacramento Bee reported, "When the U.S. Army called Bikram Singh to recruit him two years ago, he didn't hesitate. If the Army wanted him, he wanted the Army. The army wouldn't take him, though, unless he shed his turban and shaved his beard. Singh believes, however, that God made him perfect as-is... While his religion is based on this centuries-old warrior legacy, Singh decided not to enlist if it meant cutting his hair... Willing Sikh men watch from the sidelines as America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan stretches on, knowing that men are not admitted to the U.S. armed forces wearing beards and turbans. As the White House eyes Pakistan for a spring offensive against terrorists, Sikh men who speak Urdu and Punjabi, languages spoken in Pakistan, wonder why they can't enlist. They could until 1986, when the U.S. Army changed its guidelines, ending religious exceptions to uniform standards."

See also: Sikhism, Military