Dear Supporter Ji,
My name is Kanwar Singh. Like many Americans, I felt the call to serve my country—and I chose to do so by applying to join the U.S. Army National Guard in 2014.
Unfortunately, unlike many Americans, I faced serious obstacles to my service. Despite my high score on the military’s entrance test, and being identified as a strong prospect for Officer Candidate School, I faced two years of bureaucratic hurdles to pursue my chosen career path.
However, because of support from champions like you, the Sikh Coalition was with me every step of the way.
For more than 10 years now, the Sikh Coalition has been leading the campaign to #LetSikhsServe. Their work has produced at least 20 religious accommodations like mine, allowing Sikhs to join the military while maintaining our articles of faith (including our dastaars and kesh). In my case, it took a lawsuit—where I was represented by the Sikh Coalition and other pro bono legal partners—to make that happen.
In the end, I was able to successfully complete Basic Combat Training, and an intense 18-month long Officer Candidate School program, earning my commission as a Second Lieutenant. Recently, I was honored to receive the U.S. Army’s Commendation Medal for my efforts to help the military innovate in my home state of Massachusetts over the past 12 months.
But this individual client work is only part of the picture. The Sikh Coalition has also achieved a broader policy victory: a 2017 change in how the U.S. Army grants those religious accommodations. This reform streamlined the application process for these accommodations and ensures that those who are granted them can retain them throughout their military career.
The Sikh Coalition is going to continue this fight in 2020 and beyond. Their ultimate goal is systemic policy change to help Sikhs and other religious minorities across all branches of the U.S. military. But they need your help to get it done.
Because at the end of the day, this is bigger than just military service. The U.S. Department of Defense is the single largest employer in our nation. If we can end discrimination against Sikhs there, it will set a strong precedent—and send a powerful message to employers across the country.
No one should have to choose between their faith and their chosen career path, and thanks to the Sikh Coalition, I didn’t. Please consider supporting the Sikh Coalition’s critical work to end employment discrimination today.
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