An army sergeant in Florida will be one of the first known Christian troops allowed to grow his beard and hair out.
In 2019, Sg Jacob DiPietro applied for a religious exemption in November 2019 to grow his hair out while on active duty. DiPietro claims that he observes the Nazarite vow from the Old Testament, where "No razor may be used on their head" and where believers are required (in his view) to wear their hair long. In most military settings, men have not been allowed to grow a beard. However, the army changed policies in 2017 that allowed soldiers to receive religious exemptions to grow their hair or beards.
This policy was primarily changed so that various religious groups, including Sikhs, Muslims, and pagans, could serve in the ranks without breaching their religious beliefs. DiPietro is now the first Christian to receive such an exemption.
DiPietro describes himself as someone who has wanted to serve in the military for several years. Originally inspired to join the military after the September 11 attacks, DiPietro would begin his military journey in high school. He would eventually find faith in 2017. In 2019, he would become a Christian. Part of that conversion was the decision to adhere to the Nazarite lifestyle. While most Christians view the Nazarite vows as something practiced in Old Testament times, DiPietro expressed that he was convicted to follow the practice. While his initial filings to get the approval were unsuccessful, DiPietro would eventually receive a memo from Lt. Gen. Gary Brito to "wear a beard and uncut hair."
"In observance with your Christian faith, you may wear uncut hair in accordance with Army uniform and grooming standards provided in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1 … You may grow your hair in accordance with the standards for long hair set forth in AR 670-1," Brito said in the memo.