What the Draft is, how it works


Joe Valentine

New recruits swearing into the military following PULHES exam.

In light of the recent events happening in Ukraine, many males are worried about the U.S. getting involved and invoking the draft.
Selective Service System is a government agency created in 1917 by congress following the U.S. entrance into World War One after failing to meet President Woodrow Wilson’s order of growing the army to one million men in six weeks. This act was called the Selective Service Act of 1917. This act gave the president of the United States the right to conscript men ages twenty-one to thirty (later changed to 18-26 in 1980) into the military when a draft is declared. The idea behind this act was intended to fill empty slots in the United State’s fighting force.
On March 29 of 1975, President Gerald Ford terminated the selective service system for everyone. However, following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation to re-establish selective service.
The last draft ended in the summer of 1973 at the end of the Vietnam war. But since its creation, the U.S. has drafted over 16 million men to fight in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. According to sss.gov, in the chance that Congress would put into place a military draft, the selective service system would use a national lottery system to determine the order in which the registered men would be drafted. Men of the age of 20 years old would be first priority, then 21, 22, 26, and lastly 18-19-year-olds.
The process would begin with loading 365 balls into a lottery machine with a month and day labeled on each ball. Another lottery machine is loaded with 365 balls labeled one through 365. They would draw a ball from the machine with the date balls and then the one with the numbered balls. For example, if they drew August 4 from the dated balls and one from the numbered balls at the same time, then men turning 20 on August 4 would be the first group of men to be drafted. If they drew the number 32, then men who turn 20 on August 4 would be the 32nd group of men to be drafted. The lottery would continue until all balls are drawn.
There are many misconceptions about who would get drafted in the event of a war. When it comes to registering for the draft, all men, regardless of status, must register for the draft within thirty days of their eighteenth birthday. However, this does not mean that you will be drafted. Those unfit for the draft like college students, married people, and the physically and mentally disabled, conscientious objectors, or people who are morally or religiously opposed to war, will be given alternative duties in the military that won’t involve training with weapons.
The punishment for willingly refusing to register carries fines up to 250,000 dollars and imprisonment up to five years. During the Vietnam war, over half a million young men refused to show up for duty following being drafted. They were all fugitives up until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter gave draft dodgers amnesty.