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Remember it?

For some it was a dreaded notice that came in the mail and notified you to report to the local draft board or other location for induction into the military.

For more then 50 years the nations Selective Service served as a backup program to insure that we had adequate  manpower in the event of an emergency situation and the country went to war.

While it started way back in 1917 it really gained momentum in 1940 when President Franklin Roosevelt  signed the Selective Training and Service Act  and it created a system where you were lawfully required to register and await your call.

Many who read this will remember those times. If you appeared for your medical examination and did not pass you were classified ‘4F’. Selection was simple. 366 blue plastic containers  which contained birth dates were placed in a container and drawn out by hand to assign order of  call to those young men ages 18-26.

I recall the reported choices they had in those times. Get drafted for two years and get assigned to whatever duty the military elected for you, sign up three years and hopefully get the job you wanted. And there were those with an ‘RFA’ designation who were released after a short time however had to serve in the reserves for a number of years.

In today’s society should you mention the word ‘draft’ it brings out the fear in most everyone.  Mothers do not want their sons being placed on deployment to some hostile country, wives would like their husbands to be a home for dinner and sisters would rather have their brothers around to actually argue with. Going off to war in this day and age perhaps does not have the drive it did in years past. Perhaps we are tired of war.

But the draft did have it’s good points.

First you took a young man and placed them in a very structured environment. Very structured.   You were taught discipline, you were taught to think on your feet, be respectful,excel and be motivated. At the end of your service you returned home with training to begin your  civilian life with and a lot of memories. Some good and some bad.

The draft was necessary. It provided us with the manpower required to meet the threat at the time. During my years in the Army I served with many who were drafted and can say each one did their part for the country and more. Now I say this while many will only remember the long hours in the mess hall on ‘KP’, guard duty, little time off and the only contact with your family  was at ‘Mail Call’ if you were lucky enough to get mail.

The draft was suspended in 1975  but resumed again in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter in response to  the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  It has also changed a bit.

We all recall certain people who were exempt from military draft  for various reasons mostly educational It used to be you could get a deferment if you were in college working successfully towards your degree. That has changed. Now it is only till the end of the  semester. High school seniors only have till the end of the school year.

Can a draft happen again?  Well never say never. If a crisis should occur and we all hope it will not, the Congress can pass a bill for the President to sign and the draft could reappear.

 Will this happen in  an atmosphere that exists in Washington today? I would not hold your breath however when we reduce the military  force to the lowest number since WW II I think it sends the message  to other countries that we are not in a position to be respected.

Recently in speaking with a young man he was quick to remind me the draft was an outdated way of thinking and with drones and new technology the military now in possession of,  perhaps we do not need as many ‘boots on the ground’.

I respect everyone’s opinion however I have not yet seen a war or conflict that did not require a large tough and dedicated group of

Military personnel of all branches to go in and solve the problem.

Like they say..’Freedom is not free’. To those who were drafted and did your time, my hats off to you.

By Chuck Johnson US Army MSG (ret)