(San Antonio, TX) March 23, 2010 - Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan graduated from basic training yesterday at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to great fanfare from the Sikh community. Through the campaign that began last April, the Sikh-American community reached a major milestone with the first turbaned Sikh officer to complete basic training in over two decades.
Though the Army's policy of not allowing Sikhs to serve with their articles of faith intact remains in place, Sikhs can celebrate that Captain Rattan's accommodation and successful completion of basic training proves Sikhs do not have to sacrifice their religion to serve effectively in the U.S. Army.
"I am overjoyed to have completed basic training and now able to serve my country," said Captain Rattan. "Most importantly, I was able to successfully complete all aspects of my initial training and had an overwhelmingly positive experience with the base command, Army leadership, and my fellow soldiers. I look forward to continuing to serve my country."
Contrary to the concerns of some, Captain Rattan met all the requirements of a solider during basic training. He wore a helmet over a small turban during field exercises. During gas mask exercises, he successfully create a seal. He also built strong bonds with the soldiers in his platoon.
Yesterday's graduation marks a significant milestone in the campaign to ensure Sikhs may serve in the Army. The Coalition looks forward to the day when military policy allows any Sikh to serve without having to make a request for accommodation. It is the Sikh Coalition's intention to continue fighting until every Sikh can freely assume the profession of their choice.
As always, the Sikh Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.
Additional Materials from the 'Sikh Right to Serve' Campaign
March 23, 2009: Press Release, http://www.sikhcoalition.org/army
Dec 11, 2009: Tejdeep Singh Rattan to be Accomodated by U.S. Army, Second Sikh to be accommodated by US Army
August 18, 2009: Congress Speaks Out Against U.S. Army's Exclusion, Congress Letter to Gates
June 2, 2009: U.S. Army Responds to Sikhs' Concerns,Army open to reviewing policy that excludes siikhs
April 14, 2009: Vaisakhi Sees the Launch of the 'Sikh Right to Serve' Army Campaign, http://www.sikhcoalition.org/advisories/USArmyLaunch
April 14, 2009: Photos from the 'Sikh Right to Serve' Campaign Launch: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37378714@N02/sets/72157616772941450/show/
April 7, 2009: Two Sikh Lead Fight for 'Right to Serve', http://www.sikhcoalition.org/advisories/USArmyAnnouncement
Coverage on NPR