US lawmakers urge inclusion of Sikhs in military

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 10, 2014 at 12:41 p.m.



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WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of 105 lawmakers is urging the Defense Department to make it easier for practicing Sikh Americans who wear beards and turbans to serve in the military.

The House members wrote Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calling for an end to a presumptive ban on Sikhs serving.

Under rules announced in January, troops can seek waivers on a case-by-case basis to wear religious clothing, seek prayer time or engage in religious practices.

But the Sikh Coalition, a U.S.-based group that advocates for the estimated half-million Sikhs living in the U.S., says the bureaucratic hurdles remain a disincentive.

The lawmakers' letter says three devout Sikh Americans currently have dispensation to serve in the military. The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

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The Associated Press

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