November 13, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – Twenty-seven retired U.S. generals have joined the growing chorus of Americans calling on the U.S. Department of Defense to eliminate the prohibitive ban on Sikh Americans serving in the U.S. military.
The generals' letter, delivered on November 11, 2015, to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter by the Sikh Coalition and McDermott Will & Emery LLP, stated that no American should have to choose between their faith and the right to serve our nation.
“On Veterans Day, we honor Americans who have served our country, but it's also a time to understand there are some Americans who still struggle for the basic right to serve,” said retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling (U.S. Army).
To learn more about why the Sikh Coalition continues to advocate for this policy change, check out our new military FAQ and this blog post by Sikh Coalition Co-Founder and Board Member Prabhjot Singh.
These letters add to the growing chorus, which was previously joined by 105 Members of Congress, 15 U.S. Senators, and 21 national interfaith and civil rights organizations, all of whom signed letters last year in support of American Sikhs’ right to serve.
“Religious discrimination by our military runs counter to some of the most basic values that we all have signed up to protect,” said retired Major General Steven Hashem (U.S. Army).
Since 2009, The Sikh Coalition has been working with their co-counsel at McDermott Will & Emery LLP to change the prohibitive policy, and has successfully obtained religious accommodations for three Sikh Americans who are now able to serve with their articles of faith.
“Our nation’s largest employer is discriminating on account of faith,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Law and Policy Director, Arjun Singh. “We thank each general for their support and agree that the military must become an equal opportunity employer.”
The Sikh Coalition would also like to give special thanks to Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Dr. G.P. Singh, and Harvinder Singh for their tireless efforts in courting the retired generals for this letter. “It takes many committed community members to move mountains like the one we’re moving with the military,” said Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur. “With the community’s help and new support from 27 generals, we took another critical step towards ending religious discrimination.”
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.