In April 2009, the Sikh Coalition (www.sikhcoalition.org), where one of our associates is doing a part-time externship, began a campaign to overturn a U.S. Army policy disallowing observant Sikhs from service by filing requests for religious accommodation. Captains Kamaljit S. Kalsi and Tejdeep S. Rattan participated in an Army program that paid for their medical education in return for military service. When the men were recruited, they were told that their mandatory Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and unshorn hair, "would not be a problem." After they completed their education, however, Captains Kalsi (a doctor) and Rattan (a dentist) were told that they would have to abandon their articles of faith in order to serve. At the end of last year, Army leadership granted accommodations to both men. On March 22, 2010, Captain Rattan became the first turbaned Sikh to graduate from basic training in over two decades.
Captain Rattan's story has been covered in The New York Times, National Public Radio and CNN, which designated him its "Most Intriguing Person of the Day."
The firm hosted a reception honoring Captain Rattan April 9, 2010. He was introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who personally contacted Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates on behalf of Captain Rattan.
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