Sikh Completes Basic Training

Ends policy that effectively banned Sikhs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2010 7:08 AM CDT
Capt. Rattan is the first Sikh allowed to complete officer basic training while wearing the traditional turban and full beard since 1984.    (Darren Abate)
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(Newser) – Cap. Tejdeep Singh Rattan yesterday became the first Sikh in a generation allowed to compete US army basic officer training without sacrificing the articles of his faith. He got a waiver from the Army to serve with unshorn hair and a turban, an exemption to a policy that has effectively prevented Sikhs from enlisting since 1984.

During training, Rattan wore a helmet over the small turban, which he doesn't remove, and was able to successfully create a seal with his gas mask despite the beard, resolving the Army's safety concerns. He also worked with an Army tailor to create an insignia patch normally worn on soldiers' berets that could be affixed to his black turban. An immigrant from India who arrived in New York as a teen, Rattan said he hopes his military commitment will help diminish prejudice Sikhs sometimes face in the US.

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