Culture and Society

Do you have to register for the U.S. draft?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Even though the United States doesn't currently have in place a military draft, you may still be legally required to register with the Selective Service System. Women don't need to register -- just men. You might even need to register if you're a resident in the U.S. even if you aren't a citizen, and you must register as soon as you're eligible, which for most American men means as soon as they turn 18 years old. Some men are automatically excluded from having to register, such as men already serving in active duty or attending military colleges, foreign residents in the states on certain types of visas, anyone confined to a hospital, psychiatric institution or prison and men with disabilities. While you might be in one of these excluded groups when you turn 18, you must register as soon as you're not in one of those groups if you're still 25 or younger.

    It should be noted that there are two reasons that those having to register need not start panicking at the prospect. First, the U.S., as we noted, doesn’t have a draft – it's an all-volunteer fighting force. No men (or women) are being plucked out of their daily lives to take up arms. Second, if history is any guide, the act of being drafted wouldn't mean you'd necessarily even have to serve. Based on how the U.S. draft has worked in the past, once you were drafted you would be required to present yourself to a regional military entrance processing station. There, you'd be evaluated to determine your physical and mental fitness. You could be deemed physically unfit and therefore exempt from serving, or, if you were deemed fit and didn't want to serve, you'd have a short, fixed period of time in which to file a request for an exemption, postponement or deferment. At that point, a small, local board of civilian volunteers appointed by the director of selective service would review your application.

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