Are you ready for a draft?
By Ami Olson
The last American compulsory draft may have ended in 1973, but throughout the country volunteers have remained active on local boards for more than 30 years in preparation for the next draft.
Selective Service System local boards, or draft boards, are five-member groups responsible for hearing claims of conscientious objectors (CO) and judging whether they are qualified for exemption from the draft.
The Selective Service lists qualifications to join a local board: one must be a U.S citizen, age 18, and may not have been convicted of a criminal offense, an active or retired member of the Armed Forces or an employee of any law enforcement agency. Men also must have registered with the Selective Service.
Current members said after applying for a spot on the board, the next step was a background check and interview process. Volunteers are required to attend annual training sessions, "refresher courses," or complete a program at home if they cannot attend the training. The rest of the time, they wait.
Like other board members, Baldwinsville resident Robert Mossotti sees the need to keep local boards active and members current in training. Mossotti served in the Marine Corps and joined the board about four years ago. He believes his role on the board, as it should be for others, is to be unbiased and uninvolved with politics, but understanding and open-minded.
"I think from the military you are able to have some judgment on character," Mossotti added. He noted that it is the job of board members to recognize whether or not a draftee who comes before them is genuinely qualified to be exempt from the draft.
If a draft is authorized by Congress and the President, a lottery system based on birthdays is instated. The first men to be drafted are those whose 20th birthday falls within that year; the next birthdays called up, if necessary, are 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. According to the Selective Service System website, "18-year-olds and those turning 19 would probably not be drafted." Registrants drafted by the lottery system would then be required to report for physical, mental and moral evaluation. If they are deemed fit for service, the draftees would have 10 days to file a claim for exemption, postponement, or deferment.