HomeSikh AmericansFirst Sikh Air Force cadet to wear faith with uniform
Don't Be Fooled by Gift Card Scams

First Sikh Air Force cadet to wear faith with uniform

University of Iowa student Gursharan Virk is officially the first Air Force cadet allowed to wear traditional Sikh garb with his military uniform.

UI’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 255 helped Virk after he petitioned the military branch asking for permission. Now, Virk is able to have his turban, beard, and bracelet incorporated into his uniform.

“I am so proud to be the first person in the country and to make this possible for everyone who will come after me,” Virk told UI. “I had doubts about whether or not I was going to be able to do this. But I hope people don’t have those doubts anymore.”

For Sikhs, wearing a turban is a visible sign that they are there to help those in need. Other symbols of religious devotion are the kara—a bracelet Virk wears on his right wrist—and a beard. 

“It didn’t feel like an obstacle because everyone around me was really supportive and helpful,” Virk said to KCCI. “So it was really a very smooth process for me.”

According to KAKE, Virk said the cadet process took about eight to nine months.

Iowa’s Air Force ROTC’s Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Youmans told We Are Iowa, “The default answer shouldn’t be ‘No, no, thank you,’ just because they’re a different religion than what maybe the standard Air Force person was in the past. But now it’s ‘how do we start with yes and stay [saying] yes and keep them in.”

Virk isn’t the first openly-practicing Sikh to enter the military. According to the Sikh Coalition, about 100 Sikhs are enlisted in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.

“Once I wear the turban, I’m representing a whole community,” Virk said to UI. “It motivates me to get up and work that much harder.”

Happy Lunar New Year! Time is running out to support our Lunar New Year Fundraising Drive through this link. The campaign ends Sunday. AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features