(April 19, 2019) — As many of you know, over the past 18 months or so, we have been engaging with the activities of The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. The Commission’s mandate is to study whether “there continues to be a continuous or potential need for a military selective service process . . . and if so, whether such a system should include mandatory registration by all citizens and residents, regardless of sex.” They will make recommendations to Congress next year.
This is the first time in decades that Congress has seriously looked at the draft.
Next week, the Commission is holding hearings on the future of the draft, April 24 and 25 at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.
Even though the draft may not be on your radar, it continues to have implications in the daily lives of many people of conscience. Currently any man residing in the United States is required to register with Selective Service as they turn 18 years of age. For failing to register, even for reasons of conscience, millions of men have been denied access to student financial aid and federal jobs, and many may be denied driver’s licenses and state IDs or face other penalties, depending on the state or US territory in which they live. These penalties (many of them life-long) are levied without due process.
It is our goal that the system is abolished, the penalties are overturned, and that no one is required to register for the draft going forward. However, if the system is upheld, it must increase its accommodations for people of conscience.
The public debate to this point has been largely focused on whether or not to extend the registration requirement to women, and it has been simplistically (and inaccurately) framed in this way: conservative religious communities are opposed to registering women because of their understanding of the different roles women and men have in society, while feminists, advocating for equal rights for women, support drafting women.
In fact, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made this very assertion in a live web chat with constituents just a few days ago. Not only is this ironic, considering that feminism as a movement has been largely anti-militarist, but also it distracts us from the true issue at stake: freedom of conscience and the right to be free of coerced participation in militarism and war.
What is largely missing from this debate is a religious or moral perspective that openly questions militarism and the policies that allow the government to justify maintaining the apparatus of the draft.
We ask you to please add your voice of conscience to the conversation!
There are a couple of ways to do that. If you are in the DC area, please consider attending the hearings. The hearings will be broken into four sessions, two on each day. Public comment (two minutes each) will be taken at each hearing, and attendees can sign up to speak before each session begins. The Commission is requesting that you RSVP to attend the hearings.
If you are unable to attend the hearings, please submit a written comment to the Commission. You can submit comments through the Commission website here. They are accepting public comments through the end of this year.
We want to ensure that the Commission understands that conscription is an important issue for people of conscience.
We have much more information on our website.
We hope you will join us in saying that no one, male or female, should be compelled to join the military, participate in war or support the preparation for war in violation of their beliefs.
Please feel free to call or email us if you have any questions.
Bill Galvin, Iman Hassan, and Maria Santelli
Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
Share Your Thoughts on the Military Draft
The Commission seeks to learn more about why people serve and why people may choose not to serve, as well as ways to increase the number of Americans in military, national, and public service. The Commission welcomes comments from the public on any aspect of the Commission’s mission and feedback on the staff memorandum released prior to the Commission’s public hearings. Please note which subject you address prior to submitting your comment.
In advance of each hearing, the Commission staff will release a staff memorandum that presents preliminary summaries of research and analysis that the Commission may consider as it develops its recommendations for the Congress, the President, and the American public.
We welcome your comments on the ideas presented in these memoranda. In your comment, please identify which memorandum you are providing feedback on. The staff memorandum can be found here, under the appropriate hearing.
General comments include any aspect of the Commission’s mission, including the following questions:
- Does service have inherent value? If so, what is it?
- How does the U.S. increase the desire for Americans, particularly young Americans, to serve?
- What are the barriers to participation in military, national or public service?
- How can the U.S. increase participation in military, national, and public service by individuals with critical skills to address national security and other public service needs of the nation?
- Is the military draft or draft contingency still a necessary component of U.S. national security?
- Are modifications to the selective service system needed?
- Is a mandatory service requirement for all Americans necessary, valuable, and feasible?
Please submit your comment below, mail your comment or any material you see fit to 2530 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Box #63, Arlington, Virginia 22202, or you can email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although our request for comments published in the Federal Register has expired, the comments submitted by any of the forms above are taken into consideration by the Commission.
Please note that any information you provide on this comment form could be publicly disclosed. Please see the Privacy and FOIA pages for further information. The Commission will be accepting comments until December 31, 2019.