ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 24, 2010 – A Texas National Guard officer will become the Army National Guard’s first Muslim chaplain in December.
Army 1st Lt. Rafael Lantigua, an ecclesiastically endorsed, fully ordained minister, will assume his post after finishing classes required by the Armed Services Chaplain Board.
“I am humbled for this opportunity to be a role model for other members of my faith throughout the military,” he said.
WASHINGTON: Growing up near the air force base in Dayton, Ohio, Tejdeep Singh Rattan knew he wanted to serve in uniform. When the military discouraged him, he persisted but again got a cold shoulder.
When he was turned away a third time, Rattan – an observant Sikh with a turban and beard – became suspicious.
“I was, like, I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I was very introverted at the time. I never felt the need to fight back. But I said I really want to do this, and you guys are sending me out again and again.”
The 31-year-old is now US Army Captain Rattan, since July the head dentist at the Fort Drum base in New York.
In what appears to be a quiet shift, the US military since last year has allowed Rattan and two other Sikhs to serve while retaining their turbans and beards, which are required by their faith.