US Air Force personnel with “religious” preferences that allow for beards, hijabs, turbans and other non-standard exemptions to grooming policy are getting their big break, including a considerable facial hair upgrade.
The guidance, which was published last Friday, covers a wide variety of faiths, including the Norse Pagan faith, Islam and Sikhism.
Beards, which were previously covered under a shaving waiver and were not to be longer than a quarter-inch, now has no real length requirements for religiously-accommodated facial hair, so long as the hair can be rolled or tied in such a way that it does not extend more than two inches below the chin.
The first example of a beard being allowed in the USAF for religious use came about in 2018, after the Air Force began mimicking Army policy on the matter.
According to Military.com, other items considered for use will be the hijab, turbans and other head coverings, which will have to be in a pattern reflective of the uniform and be made of a fire-resistant material.
All decisions to accommodate must be made by Colonels or higher-ranking individuals, and the decision will be made after a chaplain has interviewed the Airman to ensure the request is sincere.
Accommodations may be suspended or withdrawn if an airman is assigned to hazardous duty or environments, such as situations that would require gas or air masks.
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