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    194th WG recruit is a first for ANG

    194th WG recruit is a first for ANG

    Photo By Master Sgt. Timothy Chacon | Gurchetan Singh recites the oath of enlistment with Brig. Gen. Jeremy Horn, Washington...... read more read more

    UNITED STATES

    09.27.2019

    Story by Master Sgt. Timothy Chacon 

    194th Wing

    After months of hard work by many people the Washington Air National Guard’s newest recruit will no longer have to choose between serving his state and country and freely practicing his religion.

    Gurchetan Singh is Sikh and elements of his religion -- especially in how he follows the principles of the 5 Ks (Kes, Kanga, Kara Kachhera, Kirpan) – cause a conflict with the standards of dress and appearance while in uniform. A waiver for religious accommodation recently signed by Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, Director Air National Guard, will allow Singh to maintain his commitment to Sikh Rehni (Sikh way of life) and begin his newly sworn commitment to the ANG.

    “This lets people know that something that might have stood in their way before, that ethically or morally they didn’t feel comfortable giving up, is no longer a choice they have to make,” said Brig. Gen. Jeremy Horn, Washington Air National Guard Commander. “We have room for progress and this is a really good step towards removing barriers.”

    Singh is not the first Sikh to serve in the U.S. military or even the WA ANG. But he is the first in the Air National Guard to have this religious accommodation as a new enlistee that allows him to serve in a way that aligns with his faith.

    "We have an incredible force, but we can keep striving towards a force that more adequately represents the community outside the gate,” said Horn. “I think it fits in with who were are as Washingtonians. We have an incredibly diverse state here so why would we put barriers up to segments of our population? Why would we exclude portions of our population that add that different view point to what we do? So if there is a wavier process, we would be breaking faith with our citizens by not exploring those waivers as they come in. I really hope this is the first of many.”

    The whole process from the time Singh contacted a recruiter to his swearing in took more than 15 months. In comparison the average ANG recruit takes one to three months.

    Although the process for Sikh’s to serve with a waiver is an extra step right now, there is a process in place within the Department of Defense that as time goes on should become simpler and simpler. It just takes the support of people who are willing to go through it because they see the benefits of it.

    “It is worth it. Someone has to take the first step,” Singh said. “In a way I’m lucky that I had to do that. Someone had to do it if it wasn’t me it had to be someone. It takes effort to pave that path for future generations.”

    Singh talked about having friends within the Sikh community that wanted to serve but were hesitant to try because of the process.

    “I had faith and I believed this would happen,” said Singh.

    Singh has a long way to go in his ANG career. In fact, he has all of it in front of him. He will go on to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, then on to his technical training, and finally return to Camp Murray to join the 262nd Cyber Operations Squadron.

    Going forward Sigh’s career is in his own hands and he will have the opportunity to shape it just as every other Airman does. He will face struggles and challenges that are shared by other Airmen and some that are unique to him, just as every other Airman does.

    “We are extremely proud he wants to serve in our organization. We are grateful for each of our young citizens, someone else’s son or daughter, that is willing to sign on the line and become part of our organization,” said Horn. “The fact that he is willingly to fight a little more of an uphill battle, more so than average candidate, shows a strong desire on his part. I’m confident he is going to be an example for a lot of people.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.27.2019
    Date Posted: 09.27.2019 18:55
    Story ID: 344453
    Location: US

    Web Views: 747
    Downloads: 0
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