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NEWS | June 17, 2024

Citizenship through service: 1946th Financial Management Detachment sergeant on personal milestones and collective victories

By Master Sgt. Arthur M. Wright | D.C. National Guard

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Sahib-Jot Singh was a world traveler years before he ever wore a military uniform. Born in Accra, Ghana to business owners in the export industry, he was a young kid already assessing readiness, overcoming fears, strategically planning, and bridging cultural differences.

“When people think Africa a lot of people think it’s one big jungle, but the continent shouldn’t be minimized as some underdeveloped far-off land,” Sgt. 1st Class Singh said. “Africa is comprised of many developed countries with election processes, trade industries, and diversity.”

As a Sikh Indian, he says his values come from being raised in Sikh doctrine, the fifth-largest religion in the world. He believes this has something to do with why he’s so committed to service.

“Sikhs are known to be warriors who fight for the person whose getting oppressed,” he said. “Although culturally Sikhs are known to serve in a capacity, I personally never imagined I would join the military, but instead figured I would go the family business route. The goal to serve though was to highlight that Indians can also serve the nation rather than most people’s perception of us only being lawyers, doctors, and business owners.”

In 2001, his family moved to New York City. The same year, nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pa., in a coordinated assault that changed American foreign and domestic policy. The year also brought a wave of racial and religious profiling.

“There was 9/11 and then Sikhs and people who look like me started being targeted and labeled terrorists,” Sgt. 1st Class Singh said. “The era brought three goals of mine to the forefront—serve in the U.S. Army, enlighten people on the message of Sikhism, and encourage more Indians to serve.”

Asian American and Pacific Islanders have served in the U.S. military since the War of 1812. Still, latest numbers from the Department of Defense finds they are under-represented among active-duty service members, and in senior levels.

“The biggest minority is Indians—I’m speaking of South Asians more specifically. There aren’t that many who serve,” Sgt. 1st Class Singh said. “I’d like to see more people like me serving, being decision-makers and moving to the top.”

In 2011, Sgt. 1st Class Singh entered the U.S. Army with a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Alien Registration Card (INS Form I-151/551, also known as a Green Card). He enlisted as a financial management technician where he was stationed at Fort Bliss and later Baumholder, Germany. He also completed an assignment at Fort Jackson as an Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Instructor. Yet he calls his one-year deployment in 2012-13 to Afghanistan a life-altering experience.

“I deployed in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Afghanistan and was able to speak two of the languages (Urdu & Punjabi) with the local populus which allowed me to strengthen the relationships with the local populous, Soldiers and vendors,” Sgt. 1st Class Singh said. “Outside of mission, I also received my citizenship. Being naturalized and deployed in an austere location really drove home the significance of Independence Day, and why the military exists. July 4th resonates with me so much because my life has been dedicated to service to others. The Army gave me the best gift in return.”

He joined the District of Columbia National Guard in 2023. The traditional Guard member is the detachment sergeant for the 1946th Financial Management Support Detachment, and a civilian budget analyst within the Pentagon. Additionally, Sgt. 1st Class Singh is vice-president for the U.S. Army Finance Corps Association, allowing him to leverage discussion and resources to keep members informed and relevant across the Army.

“Ideally, I plan to stay in the D.C. National Guard as long as the Army allows me to serve, utilizes my skills, and remain beneficial to the Soldiers and people around me,” he said.

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