| United States | 5 Feb 2017 | Asia Samachar |
He is now Lt-Col Kamal Singh Kalsi.
Dr Kamal, who ran a field hospital while serving with the US army in Afghanistan in 2011, has been promoted to a Lt-Colonel.
Kamal serves in the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as a disaster medicine expert in the Army Reserve. He is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.
Lt-Col Kamal has been frequently mentioned in cases where Sikhs serving in the US army battle to be allowed to serve with their turbans and beards intact, as per the requirement of their faith.
“This is a shared promotion,” said Lt-Col Kamal, referring to his wife Chinar Kaur Kalsi and his family and friends.
Chinar posted the following on her Facebook page today (5 Feb 2017):
Cell phone rings
Kamal S. Kalsi: “what are you up to?”
Me:” Nothing just being lazy”
Kamal: ” can you come down around 1 PM, they want to do my promotion today?”
Me:”what? I don’t have an outfit?”
Oh well! Congrats LT Colonel Kamal-so proud of you and your accomplishments. I will stand by you in my pajamas. Love you
In the battle to serve with their turban and beard, some major developments were announced early this year.
On 3 Jan 2017, the US army issued a directive that requires brigade-level commanders to grant religious accommodations for hijabs, beards, and turbans with unshorn beards and hair for soldiers in all roles unless the requester’s religious belief is not sincere or if the Army identifies a specific, concrete hazard.
The directive makes it easier for Sikhs to serve with their religious articles of faith intact.
“Sikhs have served honorably in the US military since the early 1900s—with their religiously mandated turbans and beards. More than 80,000 Sikh soldiers died fighting alongside Allied forces in WWI and WWII, but a policy change in the early 1980s effectively banned Sikh articles of faith from entering into the military. In 2009, I became the first Sikh in nearly a generation to receive a religious accommodation that allows me to serve with my turban and beard, and more soon followed,” Kamal, then a major, wrote in article for The Hill in March 2016.
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