December 7, 2011 (New York, New York) - The U.S. Army's first turbaned Sikh soldier in over 30 years returned home from Afghanistan and received a Bronze Star Medal for his service.
Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi received the Bronze Star Medal for "exceptionally meritorious service as an emergency medicine physician" while deployed in Afghanistan during the first half of the year. The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest combat award in the U.S. Armed Forces.
In support of the award, an official recommendation from Major Kalsi's superiors cites his resuscitation back to life of two patients who were clinically dead on arrival; his "expert" emergency care of over 750 soldiers and civilians; coordination of 5 mass casualty exercises; and his general "commitment and leadership above and beyond that of his general duties."
To his credit, Major Kalsi even set up camp-wide Internet access for over 200 soldiers at Camp Dwyer in Helmand, Afghanistan, where he was deployed. After his service, he was promoted from Captain to Major.
"It continues to be my honor to serve my country," said Major Kalsi. "I look forward to service as duty calls."
The Sikh Coalition is proud of Major Kalsi's record of accomplishment and service in the U.S. Army. His receipt of the Bronze Star Medal makes clear that Sikhs can serve with excellence while maintaining their articles of faith.
Current U.S. military policy forces Sikhs to remove their religiously-required turbans and facial hair in order to join the military. Over the past two years, the Army granted Major Kalsi and two other Sikh soldiers individual accommodations, which allow them to maintain turbans and beards. The Sikh Coalition continues to advocate for an end to the general policy of Sikh exclusion from U.S. military service.
The Sikh Coalition and Major Kalsi are represented by the law firm ofMcDermott Will & Emery LLP. Amandeep S. Sidhu, an attorney from McDermott Will & Emery, is lead counsel for the Sikh Coalition and Major Kalsi.