A Sikh-American Soldier Won the Right to Serve with His Beard, Long Hair and Turban

​It's a victory for religious freedom.​

From Esquire

Captain Simratpal Singh, a Sikh-American officer who has served in combat, won a long-term religious accommodation from the U.S. Army to serve his country with a beard, turban and long hair called for by his faith.

Assistant Secretary of the Army Debra S. Wada granted Singh the year-long accommodation after he was given temporary accommodation in December 2015. Singh is the only Sikh American to receive an accommodation while active in the service.

In a statement, Singh said, "My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream. My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation." Prior to this, Singh served for 10 years with short hair and without a beard or turban.

"With this historic accommodation, we hope that the U.S. military will finally move past protracted, case-by-case religious accommodations and recognize that the time for permanent policy change is now," said attorney Amandeep Sidhu.

While Signh serves with his accommodation, the Army will conduct periodic check-ins to ensure the accommodations don't interfere with troop morale or Singh's safety. Before 1974, Sikhs were allowed to serve in the armed forces with religious articles intact.