Looming war brings up draft questions

By Michelle Landrum

With the possibility of war looming today—the United Nations-approved date for force in the Persian Gulf—questions about draft policy are cropping up nearly 18 years after the end of the last U.S. draft.

Since 1973, induction policies have changed, according to information from the Region 3 Illinois Selective Service office.

In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, men were assigned lottery numbers and drafted oldest first in order of birthday, leaving them up to seven years of uncertainty about their future.

With the new draft policy, lottery numbers for order of service were reversed according to age, meaning younger men have the greatest chance of being drafted. Men are most likely to be drafted at 20 years old and fall into lower priority ranking each year after.

The system was changed to allow greater security for men with higher lottery numbers, while giving those with lower numbers the opportunity to voluntarily enlist in the military branch of their choice.

The new draft policy also does away with widespread deferments for college students and only sons. However, exemptions or deferments may be granted if a local draft board approves conscientious objection, family hardship and religious ministry appeals.

“The law provides that no one shall be required to serve in the armed forces who by reason of moral, ethical or religious training and belief is conscientiously opposed to participation in war of any form,” states the Selective Service board member handbook.

If war breaks out and a draft begins, induction orders and information about deferment and exemption would be sent by mailgram, the handbook says.

Men receiving notices would then be able to fill out a request form to appeal before a local draft board made up of some community members who serve voluntarily and without pay.