New York: The U.S. 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 U.S. Army say.
Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan and Corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba are the only three Sikhs serving in the U.S. 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 Sardars, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims," Kalsi, an emergency medicine doctor, told a news agency here.
The first turbaned U.S. 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 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 need for change in federal policy that will open the doors for not just Sikhs but Indian-Americans to serve in the military.