US army allows turbans, beards, hijabs for servicemen
The US army has issued a new regulation under which brigade-level commanders will be able to grant accommodations to servicemen and women who wear beards, turbans, or hijabs for religious reasons.
The US army has issued a new regulation under which brigade-level commanders will be able to grant accommodations to servicemen and women who wear beards, turbans, or hijabs for religious reasons—the three most common requests for waivers to current guidelines on grooming and dress.
The new set of rules, issued by Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, will make the force more inclusive of minority religions and cultures.
The new guidelines also revise hairstyle standards for female soldiers: They can now wear dreadlocks, cornrows, or twists, provided they’re relatively small, uniform, neat, and tied off inconspicuously, and they don’t have to request an accommodation to do so.
The new regulations came in response to litigation and advocacy from Sikh servicemen who wear beards and turbans for religious reasons, and who wanted to be able to keep them while actively serving.
"This is a major progress, not just for the Sikh-American community but for our nation's military. Sikh-Americans love this country and want a fair chance to serve in our country on equal footing. Today's announcement will help do just that," Congressman Joe Crowley said welcoming the directive issued by the US Army Secretary.
"We are a stronger nation, with a stronger military because of our respect for religious and personal freedom," he said.
Over the years, military officers have regularly dealt with requests for religious exemptions to various rules.