History of the Selective Service

History of the Selective Service

(DailyVantage.com) – The federal government has used some form of military conscription since the Revolutionary War era to provide soldiers for national defense in times of war or military conflict. Nowadays, all men aged 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service System within thirty days of their 18th birthday. Additionally, they must notify the service of any changes in the information provided in the application within 10 days.

Participation in several federal programs is contingent upon registration with the Selective Service System, like federal student loans and jobs, for example. Several states have laws requiring registration before obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. Additionally, failure to register with the services carries the risk of criminal prosecution.

Congress has enacted four acts codifying the Selective Service starting in World War I. Additionally, Gerald Ford eliminated the registration requirement in 1975 via a presidential proclamation, and Jimmy Carter re-established it in 1980 under Proclamation 4771.

Selective Service Acts

Congress enacted the first act, the Selective Service Act of 1917, shortly after the formal declaration of war against Germany. Initially, all males between the ages of 21 to 30 were required to participate in the program. It was later expanded to include non-disabled men up to 45.

Congress narrowly passed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 due to World War II, which was raging across Europe and Asia, making it the first peacetime draft in history. All males from 21 to 36 were required to register, although provisions were established for conscientious objectors to the war. This act officially expired in March 1947.

The Selective Service Act of 1948 was enacted after then-President Harry Truman determined it was necessary to maintain a peacetime army large enough to fulfill its international commitments. All males between the ages of 18 to 26 were required to register.

The Military Selective Service Act of 1967 was enacted as the result of a study commissioned by Lyndon Johnson over concern about the role of the Selective Service Board in determining the eligibility of individuals for deferments from participation in the program. All males between the ages of 18 to 55 were required to participate in the program.

The Selective Service System remains in effect to this day and is a vital aspect of national defense in the event of another war or military intervention. Hopefully, the need to enact another draft never happens.

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