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The Sikh Coalition News
May 22, 2021
  • Another Historic Moment at West Point

    May 22, 2021 (West Point, NY) -- Today, the Sikh Coalition is pleased to congratulate Second Lieutenant (2LT) Gurjiwan Singh Chahal for successfully graduating from the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point.

    In 2017, 2LT Chahal entered as a member of West Point’s Class of 2021 and simultaneously became 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.

    “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.”

    Since 2009, 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. Partnered with the law firms of Winston & Strawn LLP and McDermott Will & Emery, we have led relentless advocacy efforts to end religious discrimination by our nation’s largest employer.

    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.

    However, the ultimate goal of this 12-plus year campaign remains to secure permanent policy changes that end discrimination by our nation’s largest employer in every branch of the military. To that end, the Sikh Coalition continues to lead efforts to improve policies inside the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Space Force. To learn more about why we continue this work, read our community FAQ.

    In addition to Winston & Strawn LLP and McDermott Will & Emery, the Sikh Coalition wants to recognize our additional partner in previous litigations, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. We also appreciate the important work of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sikh American Veterans Alliance to secure historic accommodations, including Airman 1st Class Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa and Airman 1st Class Sunjit Singh Rathour, in 2019.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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