Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Selective Service Act. (Flickr photo by ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER)
Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Selective Service Act. (Flickr photo by ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER)

The Selective Service and Training Act

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act into law on September 16, 1940. The act took effect on October 16 and required all males between the ages of 26-35 to register for military service. The Selective Service System created by the 1940 Act was terminated by the Act of March 31, 1947, and the Selective Service Act of 1948 created a new and separate system, and is the basis for the modern system. Later the age was reduced to 18 ½.

Today's Selective Service

Under current law, almost all male US citizens, and some male immigrants living in the US, between the ages of 18 to 25, are required to register with Selective Service. If the draft were reinstated men would be called to military service by a random lottery number and their year of birth. The next step would be a physical, mental, and moral fitness examination before being deferred or exempted from service in the military.

Almost All Citizens?

What groups or individuals are exempted from registering for military service? Men who are in the US on student or visitor visas, part of diplomatic or trade missions and their families are not required to resister.

Almost all non-citizens are required to register including undocumented aliens, legal permanent residents, and refugees. If you take up residency in the US before your 26th birthday you are required to register for selective service. Here are some other groups that may or may not be required to register.

  • Those with dual citizenship are required to register even if they don’t reside in the US because they are US nationals.
  • Those who are hospitalized, in prison or mental institutions do not have to register while they are committed to those institutions. If they are released before their 26th birthday then they must register.
  • Disabled men who can leave home and move about independently must register. A friend or family member is allowed to assist the disabled man in filling out the form. Classifications as to whether the person is able to serve would be decided later.
  • Those already serving in the military or attending service academies do not have to register unless they leave the service academy before the age of 26 then registration would be required.
  • Those serving in the reserves or National Guard not on full time active duty must register.
  • Those who have a moral or religious objection to war are called “Conscientious Objectors.” They must register and if their objection meets the standard they will be exempted.

Some Final Thoughts

I’m the only member of my family to serve in the military and I was drafted in 1965. I’m always had this rule not to voluntarily go where people are shooting at you. But I was called and did serve.

Having that experience behind me I realize that there are valuable assets that people who have served in the military take away from that service. Things like self-discipline, teamwork, meeting goals and objectives that will help anyone achieve a higher quality of life in the civilian world. I’m not a fan of war having seen it up close and personal but I do believe that if all males had the opportunity to experience military service I believe our society would benefit greatly.

I believe we’d have fewer poor and a less dependent society. Plus, programs like the GI Bill would allow more men and women to attend college better prepared to be successful in that pursuit. Bring back the draft — absolutely. What’s your opinion?

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