How To Beat The Draft Board/Background


A concern in times of strife shared among many Americans is the reinstatement of the draft. The general Selective Service draft could draft, in normal active operation, men between the ages of 18 and 25, starting at age 20 (up to 25, then down to 18). An additional healthcare draft could draft healthcare workers into military service from ages 20 to 44 normally, possibly up to 55. While both drafts currently only apply to men, if reinstated, the healthcare draft would very likely include women due to the major role women now play in the modern healthcare industry. Congressional action has the potential to also modify the general draft to select women as well.

Many people, due to varying reasons of conviction, would find their participation in a particular military action, or any military action, to be immoral, yet have registered with the Selective Service System. Conscientious objection has long been recognized by the government, but seldom respected. Conscientious objectors have been ostracized, fined, jailed, pressed into service, denied any clothing in response to refusal to wear a uniform, and even used as human guinea pigs for alternative service (WWII). While the system has slowly become more tolerant, the burden of evidence and standards for conscientious objection are still extremely high. Hardship deferments are not treated as harshly, but the standards tend to still be quite strict. Various other types of claims can be made as well, from essentiality of occupation to ministerial deferments.

Yet, the problem often doesn't lie within the standards. The fact is that many of the people on draft boards are old, retired career military individuals who simply don't like the concept of conscientious objection or other deferments. Many feel that military life is something that everyone would appreciate once exposed to it, and that it is disloyal to refuse to serve your country if your country calls you. In my Selective Service board training, one member declared during a role-playing session that the fictional CO (Conscientious Objector), despite his sincerity, should have his claim denied: "basic training would straighten him out" and he'd be "happy to serve after that"; all he needed was a good "indoctrination". Four out of five people on one team denied CO status to the aforementioned character after acknowledging that the registrant met the CO guidelines (sincerity, opposition to all wars, morally/ethically grounded, etc). Why? The registrant was "a good shot, and he would be an important addition to the army". These sorts of arguments are, quite obviously, completely against the guidelines. That doesn't change the fact that these people now serve on local boards.

You may be told a lot of things by people if you receive a draft notice. You may be told, for example, that they won't make you serve in a combat role if you oppose such an assignment. Don't believe it. The only way to ensure that you're in a noncombat role while serving in the military is to be classified as 1-A-O status, which means an appeal to the draft board. A friend of mine lost a close, pacifist friend in the Vietnam War who fell for precisely this lie. He was shot and killed in combat carrying a weapon that he refused to load. Despite his explicit requests not to be buried in a military uniform, he was buried in one. It took a protest on the part of the pallbearers not to have his coffin buried with an American Flag on it. No matter what your reason for wanting to avoid the draft, the time to act is when you receive your notice or sooner. Don't leave your fate to chance.

If you truly object to service, getting past your local draft board is not something that should be taken lightly. This guide is designed to show you, the registrant, how to stand the best possible odds of your claim making it past review.

How To Beat The Draft Board
Background Meeting Structure