WASHINGTON (RNS) New Army regulations will allow soldiers to wear turbans, beards and hijabs under most circumstances, reflecting a change Sikhs have sought for years.
“Based on the successful examples of Soldiers currently serving with these accommodations, I have determined that brigade-level commanders may approve requests for these accommodations,” wrote Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning in a Tuesday (Jan. 3) memo.
In March, the Army concluded that permitting beards for medical reasons but banning them for religious reasons is a discriminatory bar to service for Sikhs, who are forbidden by their faith to cut their hair and beards.
With that decision, Capt. Simratpal Singh, a West Point graduate and Bronze Star recipient, was the first to win Army approval to continue on active duty while maintaining his religiously mandated beard and turban.