Registered for the Draft Yet? Who Needs to Register and How.

For upperclassmen who have taken or are taking World History, Russia’s expansionist aggression towards Ukraine (and the international response) shows disturbing similarity to Nazi warmongering before WWII. Basically, everyone’s telling Putin to stop but he won’t have it. Ukraine’s military is far inferior to the Russkies’, and so it is very likely that Putin will overrun Ukraine and set up a puppet government. However, in the off chance that this does escalate into a extended global conflict and old Uncle Sam needs more than the soldiers who enlist, the draft may be instituted again after 50 years.

The draft is a mandatory conscription program that is older than the United States itself. It has been used in six conflicts: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. In these major wars, the Land of the Free called on its citizens to defend that freedom, and received very mixed results. In all cases, the draft was by no means popular. People usually felt that the war shouldn’t concern them, especially in the last two conflicts that were fought during the Cold War. They had also not enlisted, which means they didn’t have the desire to fight. Imagine getting called for jury duty but you could die.

If we are drawn into WWIII and the draft is activated again, here’s how it will go down. First off, only men will be called on. If you girls want to fight the patriarchy a little harder to get this changed, I wouldn’t object. There would be a lower chance I’d get drafted. According to the USA’s official website, every man between the ages of 18 and 25 is required to be registered for the draft. This includes college students, refugee immigrants, and transgender people who were born male. Every male in that age range that isn’t exempted must register within thirty days of his eighteenth birthday or of his entering the country.

The Selective Service System, the government agency responsible for the draft, would then begin its lottery. This isn’t a game show and the “winners” don’t win any money. The SSS has a physical lottery machine with balls labeled for each day in the calendar year (pictured above, credit: the Selective Service System). They have a separate machine with balls that only show numbers between 1 and 365. In the lottery process, a person reaches into the machine and pairs up each day of the year with a number. This number determines when men with that birthday will be called; the date paired with the 1 ball goes first, then the date paired with the 2 ball, then the 3 ball, and so forth all the way to the 365 ball. Here’s hoping that ball gets paired up with May 1.

Signing up for the draft isn’t a death sentence though. Doing it allows you to qualify for federal student aid, and allows immigrants to apply for citizenship. Failing to register could lead to prosecution and up to a $250,000 fine and five years of jail time. You can register online by putting down your name, address, and Social Security number on the Selective Service System’s website at You can also check your registration status there if, like me, you happen to forget whether you registered or not.

To quote the back windows of hundreds of trucks across the state, “Freedom isn’t free.” As citizens of the United States we have civil duties that accompany our civil rights. It is very unlikely that the draft will be needed by the time we turn 26, but every man over 18 should fulfill his obligation by registering.