Bad decision on Sikh officer
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 26, 2009
The chain of command has just approved a waiver for Capt. Kamajleet Singh Kalsi to allow him to wear his turban and beard for religious beliefs ("Army waives its uniform policy for Sikh physician," article, Oct. 25).
This is wrong. Period. When taking the oath to defend the United States of America, it is a choice. All of us who wear this uniform have given up — in some way, shape or form — the expression of our own personal and religious beliefs to an extent. The freedoms so many Americans enjoy we cannot fully engage in based upon our duty and responsibility to defend them. This is called discipline. If the captain cannot relieve himself of his beard and turban, then he should not be allowed to serve. It is a choice. As a soldier, I am appalled that, to begin with, the shaving standard was even approved.
How can this officer go into harm’s way or the unknown and provide aid to soldiers on the battlefield in a chemical environment if he cannot wear his mask properly? Well, I guess he can’t due to his religious beliefs. So that means another captain who probably just came back from a tour 11 months ago will have to leave his family again to pick up the slack.
As a senior noncommissioned officer, [I feel] that the Army values we preach to our soldiers are now in question because of this decision. Fair and equal treatment for all? I think not.
Sgt. 1st Class Sean M. Cook
Camp Speicher, Iraq