This week, the Army announced that it would take steps to ease their stance on appearance standards in order to make it easier for religious soldiers to practice their faith. Eric Fanning, the Army Secretary, signed a memorandum that altered the uniform policy to allow those seeking religious accommodations to wear beards, turbans, and head scarfs.
The revised rules also allows brigade-level commanders to approve the requested accommodations which was previously a job that was solely the responsibility of the Army Secretary. Denial of a religion accommodation request can be appealed as high as the Army Secretary. The memo states that if approved, the soldier will be able to exercise those accommodations his entire military career unless modified or revoked by the Army Secretary.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor said in a statement that the goal is to balance the soldier.
“Our goal is to balance soldier readiness and safety with the accommodation of our soldiers’ faith practices, and this latest directive allows us to do that,” he said.
The Sikh Coalition, whose religion advocates for men to have beards and wear turbans, approves of the latest announcement.
“We are pleased with the progress that this new policy represents for religious tolerance and diversity,” said coalition Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur.
The Soldiers that receive the accommodations must still be able to wear a combat helmet and other protective gear safely.