"This is a very common question which is asked again and again, 'Why you wanna join the U.S. army? Why don't you want to follow everything U.S. army puts forth in front of you?' My answer to that is, 'I would love to follow every policy, every law and regulation made by the military. What about the laws and regulations which my faith gave me way before I joined the military?'
My name is Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan and I am a dentist in the U.S. army."
"The captain demonstrates how he ties his turban, "It doesn't take very long to do my turban. That kind of contains my hair, makes sure it's nice and groomed, tucked in. Guess what, it doesn't take me more than two minutes to do my turban.
My family, we all immigrated here in 1996, that's when my life started here in the U.S. When I joined college I was really interested in doing different things. I wanted to join the Air Force ROTC program at Wright State University. I applied for assignment when I was getting my bachelors degree. That was quite a long process I went through. It was not a very pleasant one. The first time they said, 'You need to stick by the policies which says clearly that you can not have facial hair and you can not have head gear.'
I took 'no' at the time, but I didn't take no as an answer.
After my bachelors in engineering I pursued my masters in engineering and I went back to ROTC and said like 'Hey! I'm really interested. Still.' They said, 'Well, you can't do it.'
Eventually I decided to become a dentist. I don't know how that happened. I went to NYU and there came some recruiters and they said, 'We need dentists.' However, at the back of my mind I still had a question about 'What's gonna happen when I go for my basic training?' Because there hasn't been a Sikh, in the last 30 plus years, who's been through the boot camp."
CBS News Highlights Sikh Struggle To Serve
Courtesy of the Sikh Coalition, 1.5 million more Americans watched CBS Evening News and were further introduced to Captain Rattan's story.
Created by: Matthew Rogers
Music/Sound Design: Grant Harold, Matthew Rogers