Posted to: Campaigns, Ft. Polk, Louisiana
This Saturday, the World Sikh Organization (WSO) is holding an interfaith ceremony to pay tribute to Maj Parvesh Kumar. Maj. Kumar was the first Indian Sikh commissioned as a Marine, and then discharged from the military in 2010 under the military’s combat boot ban. He refused to renounce his Sikh faith, and was fired for his refusal.
The World Sikh Organization has been organizing events every year to raise awareness of Maj. Kumar’s story and to raise money for research into combat PTSD. This year’s event is on Saturday 10 October at 3pm at the White River National Forest on Highway 169 in Jennings, Louisiana.
This year, we also decided to pause and recognize the veteran’s rights movement taking place on the West Coast. There are not many cases where a Sikh veteran has been able to win a court case against the U.S. military. The opportunity to raise awareness, remember why this happens and to raise funds to help counsel veterans fighting PTSD is a good one.
There’s a good story in this case: Maj. Kumar and his colleagues were told on the day he was commissioned that their awards would be cancelled and they would have to quit the military if they did not sign a statement renouncing their Sikh faith. When he refused to sign, his commanding officer sent him home and Lt. Gen. Mark Milley fired him.
Maj. Kumar was a model Marine and should be celebrated today as a hero. It’s not enough that the United States military recognizes Sikhism as a “culturally and linguistically distinct religion” and that the Pentagon acknowledges that “Sikhism is a religion of spiritual and cultural importance for the majority of the Sikh community.”
The U.S. military should know and be respectful of Sikhism. To the extent that it is treated as a religion, it should be treated with the same dignity and respect that is afforded to other religions.
For more information about this event and ways to show support for Maj. Kumar, please visit:
For more information about the WSO, visit: