Sikh soldiers want more Indians in US Army
US should change its policy to allow more Indian-Americans to join the military without compromising on their religious beliefs and practices, the only three Sikh soldiers in the US Army say. Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan and corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba are the only three Sikhs serving in the US Army currently.punjab Updated: Dec 02, 2013 15:42 IST
US should change its policy to allow more Indian-Americans to join the military without compromising on their religious beliefs and practices, the only three Sikh soldiers in the US army says.
Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan and corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba are the only three Sikhs serving in the US army currently.
Having shattered stereotypes, the three have won awards and commendations for their service, including postings in Afghanistan.
They now want to see a change in federal policy that allows not just Sikhs but other Indian-Americans to join the military and serve without having to compromise on their religious beliefs and practices.
"It is just a matter of time. This is an issue of diversity, if people of all colours and races can join the military so can Indians, so can Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims." Kalsi, an emergency medicine doctor, told here.
The first turbaned US Sikh soldier in over 30 years, Kalsi received the bronze star medal, the fourth-highest combat award for his meritorious services in Afghanistan in 2011.
He said diversity in the forces is key to make America stronger and more beautiful country.
"We are all in this together. Diversity is a strategic imperative. If we want to make this a more stronger and beautiful country we have to commit to diversity and we need a military that looks like the people it protects," he said.
Lamba, who was recruited in 2010 for his special language skills in Hindi and Punjabi through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) programme, said there is a need for change in federal policy that will open the doors for not just Sikhs but Indian-Americans to serve in the military.
"Sikhs are part of the country, they are Americans as everybody else here. We need support of everyone from the community and other Indians to change the overall policy," he said adding that once the army opens its door, other branches of the military could also follow suit and recruit more immigrants from diverse backgrounds.
Kalsi said he is privileged to be able to serve in the US army and looks forward to a future when his children and those of other immigrants and nationalities would be able serve "freely and proudly" for the country.
"This is my favourite turban, my camouflage turban, I take great pride in it. We don't take that lightly," Kalsi said as he touches his turban with a visible sense of pride.
"When Sikhs can serve proudly in nations like India, UK and Canada, there is no reason why we cannot serve here. I look forward to a future when not only my children but everyone's children can serve freely and proudly for the country."