As a veteran drafted to serve in Vietnam (Air Force, 1964-68), I agree that women and men should not have to register with Selective Service for a possible wartime draft.
But men are now required to so, even though no American has been drafted for nearly 50 years. After U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, President Richard Nixon converted our military to an all-volunteer force, ending the draft.
President Jimmy Carter restored Selective Service registration in 1980 for all U.S. male citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
Proponents of registration say it may be necessary if war breaks out, but we’ve fought several wars over the past four decades, including a 20-year conflict in Afghanistan.
Implementing a draft would force the military to drastically lower physical and mental standards in order to fill its enlarged ranks.
The Selective Service system also costs taxpayers $24.4 million a year to run. Ending it will not only save money, but also eliminate an unfair and unequal burden on our nation’s young people.
The draft was unfair because because of two conflicting elements in its structure. It was created by the Universal Military Training Act, but administered by the Selective Service system.
It was universal during World War II when 10 million Americans were inducted. But the draft became more selective during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Many college students were granted deferments for as long as they could stay in school, while men in key professions got occupational exemptions.
This placed the burden of military service on poor and disadvantaged people, while those of wealth and privilege largely avoided conscription.
Selective Service is a relic of that painful past. Let’s end it completely for everyone.
Kew Gardens Hills