By Allison Kirschbaum

In a recent video, rapper Cardi B posted misunderstandings and misinformation about the military draft. In spite of this, Congress is not amused. Instead, they have created a bipartisan proposal that would allow men to automatically register for selective service and be required to do so. This new draft is for male U.S. nationals and immigrants who are 18 through 25 years of age.

It's important to note that this move will allow the country to call the men registered in sequence randomly; once called, the military will examine them for physical, moral fitness, and mental capability; if found unfit, they will be exempted from military service.

The Debate of Registering for Selective Service

Pushing this draft will save the military from declining recruits; however, some proposals want to include women in registering for the draft. With this, the chances of it becoming a law might be slim. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan mentioned that if men automatically register for selective service, it will save taxpayers money. Houlahan added that the country had not had a military draft for over a half-century, which was the perfect time for a new one.

Joining the military has not been compulsory since 1973. However, men aged 18 through 25 must register just in case of a new draft. Registering for selective service has been a practice since the 1980s.

The Selective Service System has a yearly budget of around $30 million to keep this program running, yet its breakdown of expenditures needs to be clarified. However, the agency handling this asked for a budget of around $11 million for next year's campaign efforts, including the plans for new registration advertisement campaigns and improvements in synchronized advertising efforts to support low compliance areas.

Last year's ads reached 112 million impressions, including billboards, social media, TV, and more, higher than 2022's 109 million impressions and 2021's 105 million. Although there are increase in ads, there is still a low registration percentage. In 2023 and 2022, there are only 84% who register for selective service, a decrease of 5% compared to 2021.

Avoiding the selective service can lead to a felony, a fine of up to $250,000, and five years of jail time, in most states, men who did not register will be barred from acquiring federal jobs, state student aid, and state jobs.

With the amendment under Bacon and Houlahan's proposal, the system will use current databases, such as those of the Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration departments, to register men 18 to 25 automatically. This would end the penalties and the use of taxpayers' money for advertisements. The agency handling the process will be able to reach out to the registered men and ask for any missing information, and automatic registration for selective service will start a year after the legislation becomes law.

On the other hand, the Senate is in a separate debate about whether to include women in the automatic registration service. This has been debated since 2016 when the Pentagon allowed women to hold combat jobs. Still, conservative opposition has blocked the proposal each time it has been brought up.

Will You Go on Combat Once Registered?

Most people worry that once they register, they will leave everything behind and go to the military, but this is not the case. If called, they are not automatically inducted into the military. College students, married persons, and family members of those killed in action are qualified for postponement.

Other men who automatically register for selective service are excluded if they have psychological or medical reasons. If you don't want to serve once called, you can "dodge" your service requirement. During the Vietnam War, there were around 570,000 people who were tagged as draft dodgers after not registering as ordered. 210,000 were only formally charged, and only 3,250 were jailed.

This happened during the pre-internet era. Now, it is harder to hide from the federal government. One option is to leave the country once the draft is turned into law, but it might be harder to return.

If you plan to register for selective service, you can get perks, such as being eligible for Federally Funded job training, state-based student aid in 31 states, jobs, and U.S. citizenship for immigrant men, so registration is still vital today as it will be crucial to national security and hedge against unforeseen threats.

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