Young Men Face the Possibility of Military Service

Michelle Ghoukasian
El Vaquero Staff Writer

It is required by the Federal law that male U.S. citizens and male aliens living in the U.S. who are 18 through 25, register with the Selective Service.

They must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

Registering with the Selective Service System does not mean one is joining the military, nor does it mean that he will be drafted.

In fact, no one has been drafted since 1973.

A draft is ordered by Congress and the president and may occur in the event of war or national emergency. In this case men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. They would then be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being inducted or excused from military service.

In the case of an emergency, the men who are qualified for induction would have the opportunity to file a claim for exemptions, deferments, and postponements from military service. Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days from the beginning of a crisis.

“I don’t think having to register is a big deal,” said Patrick Kennedy, 18, a student, “because the chances of getting drafted are so small.”

Non-citizens who are not required to register with Selective Service include men with student or visitor visas and men who are part of a diplomatic or trade mission and their families. Male citizens, including illegal aliens, legal permanent residents and refugees are required to register. If a male takes up residency in the U.S. before his 26th birthday, he must register.

Men convicted of failure to register may be fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both. Not registering for the Selective Service is a felony. In addition to this, failure to register can result in permanently forfeiting the eligibility for certain benefits, such as student financial aid, U.S. citizenship for male immigrants, federal job training and federal jobs.

The fastest and easiest way to register is on-line at Another way is to get a “mail-back” registration form from the post office, fill it out, sign it, affix postage and mail it to Selective Service.

Men can also register by checking the box on the application form for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA form). The Department of Education will provide Selective Service with the information to register.
At Glendale Community College, students can also pick up a registration form along with a brochure at the Financial Aid office.

“Students can log onto the GCC Web site and register for Selective Service through the financial aid link,” said Dennis Schroeder, assistant director of financial aid.

According to Gaston Naranjo, statistician of the Selective Service, registration has been increasing from year to year due to the increasing population. In 1999, 1,294,853 men who turned 18 registered nationwide. In 2000, the number increased to 1,356,310, and in 2001 the number yet again increased to 1,453,828.

“However, as well as the population is increasing,” said Naranjo “young men are also becoming more aware that they have to register.”

Also according to Naranjo, in the early ’90s and late ’80s, the number of men registered decreased because the population decreased.

According to the current draft law, a college student can postpone his induction until the end of the semester. A senior can be postponed until the end of the academic year. In the lottery system used today, a man only spends one year in first priority for the draft. Each year after that, he is placed in a lower priority group.

Women are not required to register, but if they were required, Congress would have to amend the law. In 1981, a Supreme Court decision, Rostker v. Goldberg, stated that registering only men did not violate the due process clause of the Constitution.

The Department of Defense (DOD) reviewed this issue in 1994, due to President Clinton’s request. According to DOD, prior drafts were used to supply adequate numbers of army ground combat troops. Therefore, the agency believes that since women are excluded by policy from front line combat positions, then excluding them from the draft process is legitimate.

No conclusions have been reached, however DOD believes that policies concerning women should be reviewed regularly because the role of women in the military continues to expand.

“I wouldn’t agree with women having to register, because with women there are more emotions involved,” said Evlin Adamian, 20, a student. “It would be more difficult for women to be far away from home when their minds and thoughts are focused on their families.”

“I agree with equality, but I don’t think women should be fighting,” said Eddy Toapauta, 19, another student, “because men would begin to think it’s okay to fight with women all the time.”