While a draft is not likely, registration for the draft (for males) is a reality. Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male aliens living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.
- CONSEQUENCES FOR NOT REGISTERING
The maximum penalty for failing to register with Selective Service is a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Failure to register will cause ineligibility for a number of federal and state benefits including:
- FEDERAL JOBS
A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service. This applies only to men born after December 31, 1959.
- STUDENT FINANCIAL AID
Men who are not registered with Selective Service cannot obtain Federal student loans or grants. This includes Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) makes registration with Selective Service a condition for U.S. citizenship, if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday and was required to register.
- FEDERAL JOB TRAINING
The Workforce Investment Act (formerly JTPA) offers important job-training opportunities. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service.
- STATE JOBS, LOANS, AND TRAINING
Most states have added additional penalties for those who fail to register with Selective Service.
- STATE DRIVER'S LICENSE LEGISLATION
As of May 16, 2002, 19 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted driver's license laws supporting Selective Service registration. They are Oklahoma, Delaware, Arkansas, Utah, Georgia, Hawaii, Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio, South Dakota, Mississippi, Idaho, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands.
What is the Draft?
For more than 50 years, Selective Service and the registration requirement for America's young men have served as a backup system to provide manpower to the U.S. Armed Forces.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 which created the country's first peacetime draft and formally established the Selective Service System as an independent Federal agency. Even before this, our country has a long history of drafting citizens to serve in the armed forces.
From 1948 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means.
In 1973, the draft ended and the U.S. converted to an All-Volunteer military.
The registration requirement was suspended in April 1975. It was resumed again in 1980 by President Carter in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Registration continues today as a hedge against underestimating the number of servicemen needed in a future crisis.
The obligation of a man to register is imposed by the Military Selective Service Act. The Act establishes and governs the operations of the Selective Service System.
If a draft were held today, it would be dramatically different from the one held during the Vietnam War. A series of reforms during the latter part of the Vietnam conflict changed the way the draft operated to make it more fair and equitable. If a draft were held today, there would be fewer reasons to excuse a man from service.
Before Congress made improvements to the draft in 1971, a man could qualify for a student deferment if he could show he was a full-time student making satisfactory progress toward a degree.
Under the current draft law, a college student can have his induction postponed only until the end of the current semester. A senior can be postponed until the end of the academic year.
The changes in the new draft law made in 1971 included the provision that membership on the boards was required to be as representative as possible of the racial and national origin of registrants in the area served by the board.
Before the lottery was implemented in the latter part of the Vietnam conflict, Local Boards called men classified 1-A, 18 1/2 through 25 years old, oldest first. This resulted in uncertainty for the potential draftees during the entire time they were within the draft-eligible age group. A draft held today would use a lottery system under which a man would spend only one year in first priority for the draft - either the calendar year he turned 20 or the year his deferment ended. Each year after that, he would be placed in a succeedingly lower priority group and his liability for the draft would lessen accordingly. In this way, he would be spared the uncertainty of waiting until his 26th birthday to be certain he would not be drafted.