Preparing for the Draft:
Friendly Answers to Questions [FAQ] from Quaker House
Posted Tenth Month 2004 -
Reproduced by Permission
Will the military draft return? We don't know the future. What we do know is that the current U.S. military is seriously overstretched, with no relief in sight. We also know that the military is trying various "quick fixes" to close the gaps, and they don't seem to be working. Many military professionals have also raised alarms about how overstretched the "volunteer" U.S. military now is, and how this might point to the draft's return.
If the draft returns, how can we prepare? We are often asked what can be done now to protect you or your children from being selected in the event of a draft.
Because there is no draft today, no one can say exactly what the rules and procedures would be. However, it seems safe to assume that a future draft would not call up persons who are currently unqualified or unacceptable for military service.
So what a person can do now is to create a file documenting any problems or restrictions, so if the draft returns they would have necessary paperwork ready and complete on short notice.
What about medical/health conditions?
Many medical conditions will keep people out of the military. Research them online as Standard of Medical Fitness. Collect and copy all medical files, and get a thorough physical exam with special attention to any problems that could interfere with service. Make sure previously unexplored aches, pains, and injuries, are examined and noted.
Keep a history of psychological problems or treatments and medications. Note periods of stress such as difficult times in school, parental divorce, or death of a loved one. Seeking counseling for any current problems can create a paper trail where one might not otherwise exist.
What about drug use/criminal records? We do not encourage either illegal drug use or lawbreaking. But if you have a history of either, they have kept many people out of the military. Here too, having complete records will be important.
What if I want to be a conscientious objector (CO)? Today, the only formal CO regulations are for persons already in the military. The key sections of these military regulations demand that CO claimants not only explain their pacifist beliefs, but also document a track record of acting on the. As the Bible says: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22)
How can I establish a CO "track record"?
Again, there are no formal regulations for future CO claims. But our advice is to document carefully your religious or philosophical objections to war and violence, and your actions for peace. Speak with a sympathetic pastor or mentor, one who could vouch for you later, about your antiwar beliefs. Express them in letters to the editor or other forms of dated publication. Register them with your meeting or church, or a national CO registry like the Center for Conscience and War in Washington DC. Collect news articles, flyers, or photos from marches, vigils or prayer services attended, and other related couments.
As sources to support CO claims, medical professionals, public officials, religious leaders, school guidance counselors, and current and former military service members (the higher ranking the better) generally have more credibility. Non-family members are considered less biased. Parents and family can still be good sources, but better to include statements by these others when possible.
What if I don't register with Selective Service? There are automatic federal and state penalties for declining to register (info at: http://www.sss.gov) Registration is also automatic in many states (32 at last count), when you get a driver's license. As this shows, in today's no-privacy electronic society, the Selective Service could likely find almost anyone if it went looking.
If I do register, can I claim CO status then?
Not in a legal sense. There is no line on the SSS registration form to state a CO claim. But here is something a young man can do:
1. Write a phrase like, I am a Conscientious Objector on blank spaces on the registration form, in clear block letters.
2. Make copies of the form, then mail one to yourself, and another to someone who has agreed to receive it.
3. Do not open the envelopes with your copies when they arrive. Keep them with your file of CO-related documents.
4. If the draft returns, this copy, and your file, should help substantiate your CO claim. (But remember: there are no guarantees!)
How can I keep up with bills to restart the draft? Beware of vague rumors spread on the internet! The Friends Committee on National Legislation (www.fcnl.org ) will track such proposals carefully and accurately.
Prepared by Steve Woolford and Chuck Fager
Quaker House, 223 Hillside Avenue, Fayetteville NC 28302
Steve and Chuck are not members of OYM affiliated meetings, and were Quaker House staff when they wrote this material. Quaker House of Fayetteville is not a ministry of OYM, but does focus on conscientious objection.