The Selective Service System wants you to know that the requirement to register for the draft did not go away with the end of the the original source Vietnam War. Under the law, virtually all male U.S. citizens, and male aliens living in the U.S., who are ages 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.
While there is no draft currently in effect, men who are not classified as unfit for military service, disabled men, clergymen, and men who believe themselves to be conscientiously opposed to war must also register.
Penalties for Failure to Register for the Draft
Men who do not register could be prosecuted and, if convicted, fined up to $250,000 and/or serve up to five years in prison. ? ? In addition, men who fail to register with Selective Service before turning age 26, even if not prosecuted, will become ineligible for:
- – including Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans. – if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.
- Federal Job Training – The Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) offers programs that can train young men for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills. This program is only open to those men who register with Selective Service.
- Federal Jobs – men born after December 31, 1959, must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.
You may have read or been told that there is no need to register because so few people are prosecuted for failing to register. The goal of the Selective Service System is registration, not prosecution. Even though those who fail to register may not be prosecuted they will be denied student financial assistance, federal job training, and most federal employment unless they can provide convincing evidence to the agency providing the benefit they are seeking, that their failure to register was not knowing and willful.
Who Does NOT Have to Register for the Draft?
Men who are not required to register with Selective Service include; nonimmigrant aliens in the U.S. on a student, visitor, tourist, or diplomatic visas; men on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; and cadets and midshipmen in the Service Academies and certain other U.S. military colleges. All other men must register upon reaching age 18 (or before age 26, if entering and taking up residence in the U.S. when already older than 18).
What About Women and the Draft?
While women officers and enlisted personnel serve with distinction in the U.S. Armed Forces, women have never been subject to Selective Service registration or a military draft in America. On , the Department of Defense removed all gender-based restrictions on military service, thus allowing women to serve in combat roles. Despite this change, Selective serviced continued to register only men, ages 18 through 25.
However, on , Senior Judge Gray Miller of the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, ruled that the practice of requiring only men to register for the military draft was unconstitutional.
Finding that the male-only provision of the Selective Service Act violated the equal protection provisions in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Judge Miller stated that while discriminatory treatment of women in the military may have been justified in the past, it longer was. “If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed,” he wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s earlier decision in the case of Rostker v. Goldberg. In the 1981 case, the Court ruled that requiring only men to register for the draft did not violate the Constitution since, at that time, only men were eligible to serve in combat.