iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Laurels are pouring in for the Indian American Sikh who has graduated from the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point, as a Second Lieutenant (2LT).
Gurjiwan Singh Chahal, entered as a member of West Point’s Class of 2021, in 2017. This made Chahal as one of the first two male Sikh soldiers to maintain their articles of faith in West Point’s 215-year history.
The second Sikh male soldier also successfully graduated, but for privacy reasons pertaining to his military career, he respectfully requests anonymity.
In a statement through an email 2LT Chahal told indica News said: “With unfailing support from my family and mentors, I am proud to have achieved my dream of graduating from West Point, and look forward to further opportunities to serve my country.”
“I am also thankful to the U.S. Army, West Point staff and faculty, and the Sikh Coalition and their legal partners, for the opportunity to further prove that the Sikh articles of faith present no barrier to honorable military service,” 2LT Chahal said.
This is not just a personal achievement for Chahal, but rather a turning of a century for the whole community. This is a small step towards a greater recognition that the Indian community, the especially Sikh community has been seeking, for acknowledging their religious sentiment.
“This is another historic moment that reminds our nation’s largest employer that Sikhs will continue to break barriers and deserve the right to follow their career aspirations like any other individual,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy Sim J. Singh.
“We wish both of these young men, as well as the Sikhs who came before them, the very best,” he said.
The Sikh Coalition has been working to ensure that observant Sikh service members in the U.S. Armed Forces are permitted to serve their country without compromising their religious practice.
After years of leading this advocacy work—including litigation in federal courts—a landmark U.S. Army policy change in January 2017 significantly improved the uniform and grooming standards for Sikhs and other religious minorities who seek to serve their country with their unconcealed articles of faith intact.
In 2020, the U.S. Air Force followed suit with a similar policy change. These two improved policies have already enabled at least 60 observant Sikh service members to serve in both of these branches of the military.
Sikh Coalition on their website said that, this only the beginning of a great change in the US history of inclusion. The ultimate goal is to secure permanent policy changes that end discrimination in every branch of the military.