Staff Sgt. Garrett Sopchak, 28, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, embraces Norse Heathenism, a belief system whose pantheon includes the gods Odin and Thor. He received a beard waiver on July 8, 2019. (GARRETT SOPCHAK)
Staff Sgt. Garrett Sopchak, 28, of the 388th Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, embraces Norse Heathenism, a belief system whose pantheon includes the gods Odin and Thor. He received a beard waiver on July 8, 2019. (GARRETT SOPCHAK)

Air Force says recent beard approvals have not sparked an influx of religious accommodation requests

by James Bolinger
Stars and Stripes

For nearly a year, the Air Force weighed a staff sergeant’s request to grow a beard as part of his religious beliefs before granting him a waiver, a decision that balanced personal liberty against military readiness, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Staff Sgt. Garrett Sopchak, a 28-year-old aerospace ground equipment craftsman from the 388th Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, embraces Norse Heathenism, a belief system whose pantheon includes the gods Odin and Thor. He received his waiver July 8.

“The beard in my faith serves as a symbol that represents one’s integrity,” Sopchak told Stars and Stripes in email July 25.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.593782

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