Sailor gets approval for 4-inch beard with a career-length waiver

A US Navy sailor who converted to Islam as a teen is permitted to grow a four-inch beard while on duty.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leo Katsareas has been given the go-ahead to grow his fist-length beard, thanks to a waiver granted by the Navy’s personnel chief.

The waiver is only specific to the auxiliary security force member’s ship, the USS George Washington, and he may have to request a waiver once he transfers to a new vessel.

“The ongoing threat of being required to immediately shave places pressure on my religious beliefs,” Katsareas told “Across the board, an accommodation geared toward a career rather than a single duty would better recognize the importance of religion to many sailors.”

Previously, Kastaeras was denied the waiver, but enlisted the help of attorney Eric Bacter.

Of course, when serving in the military, you sacrifice some of your rights,” Baxter said. “But you don’t have to sacrifice all of your rights. The military should do everything it can to protect the religious liberties of those who defend our freedoms.”

The approved accommodation should ideally remain throughout the convert’s career, but could be subject to change should his duties be hampered by his facial hair.

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