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Accommodations for Sikh Service Members

Active Military
Active Military
Veteran News
Veteran News
October 7, 2019
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The tragic death of Harris County Sheriffs Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal brought to light another unfortunate and tragic occurrence. There are not clear accommodations for Sikh Americans to serve in some branches of the U.S. military and the majority of police departments and sheriffs' offices across the nation. For those that have made a clear accommodation policy, we salute you. In an effort to expand the good work that the U.S. Army and several departments have done in this area, 98 Sikh service members and law enforcement officers have sent letters, facilitated by the Sikh Coalition to local and state law enforcement officials and another to the Department of Defense to "implement a streamlined accommodation process". You can read the first letter by clicking here and the second letter by clicking here.In 2015 Deputy Dhaliwal got permission to wear his turban and beard as part of his uniform. The fact that in 2015 this was still something groundbreaking, paints a grim picture regarding the ideals this nation was founded on.A turban and beard don't interfere with one's duty. After speaking with a Sikh, who also happens to be a Captain in the U.S. Army and learning how they've taken measures to adapt to the standards and ensure the protective posture remains unaffected, it became terribly troubling that in 2019 we still haven't gotten a clear set of accommodations for those who follow the Sikh faith. Using vaseline or petroleum jelly on their beards for wear of the gas masks, just like special forces soldiers do, or utilizing a smaller turban to wear under their ballistic helmet, those who adhere to the Sikh faith have done, in our opinion everything they can to accommodate to standards outside of their faith, while still adhering to their faith. What more can we really ask of them?A question we've often demanded an answer to is "Does this policy make us more or less lethal?" It's a question that despite the different role of law enforcement compared to the military, it is still important. Often times law enforcement officers find their lives in danger, and the last thing we'd want is for a policy, any policy, to further endanger their lives or the lives of military personnel.Those who adhere to their Sikh faith are not asking for the rules to be changed, all they're asking for is reasonable accommodations, accommodations they've already pioneered and tested to ensure will not risk the protective posture of our armed forces or law enforcement personnel.And as far as the question "Will this policy make us more or less lethal?"Look up the Battle of Saragarhi, where 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs made a literal last stand against 10,000 Pashtun forces, killing almost 200 enemy fighters before the 21 Sikhs were defeated. The kill to death ratio was 8 kills for every one death of a Sikh...and you want to know if having accommodations for Sikhs is a good idea...seems pretty obvious to us. Every single one of the Sikhs that perished that day were awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the equivalent of our Medal of Honor.We'd imagine people with that sort of commitment and devotion to their duty, would indeed make raise our lethality and combat effectiveness.

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