If you’re a female you can skip right over this section as it pertains only to the males in your class. However, if you’re a guy who’s not yet 18 you better pay attention because the Selective Service obligation is no joke.
What is the Selective Service?
FDR signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which created the country’s first peacetime draft and formally established the Selective Service System as an independent federal agency.
From 1948 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of war, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means. In 1973, the draft ended, and the U.S. converted to an all-volunteer military. Despite this change, President Carter reinstituted registration with the Selective Service in 1980 over fears of a possible war with the Soviet Union. Registration continues today just in case a sudden need for servicemen arises in a future crisis.
Who has to register?
The law requires virtually all male U.S. citizens (regardless of where they live) and male immigrants residing in the U.S. (permanent resident aliens), to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Men who do not register within the 30-day window are technically in violation of the law and should register as soon as possible.
How do you register with the Selective Service?
One way you can register is by going down to your local post office and asking for a “mail-back” registration form. Fill it out and attach the proper postage and your done. Many high schools have a staff member who can help facilitate registration and you can also register by checking a box on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Even easier is the new online registration with is quickly handled at www.sss.gov.
What are the penalties for not registering?
While a draft is unlikely, registration is still a legal obligation. Failure to register will cause ineligibility for a number of federal and state benefits including federal jobs and financial aid. Those who fail to register are ineligible for jobs in the Executive Branch as well as positions with the U.S. Postal Service. Men who do not register are also not able to obtain federal student loans or financial grants. In the most extreme cases, the maximum penalty for failing to register with Selective Service is a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Tennessee has also passed a series of laws designed to make the lives of those who fail to register difficult. For one thing, Tennessee law requires Selective Service registration before any male can be accepted to a state college or university. Selective Service registration is also a precondition for employment with the state and is mandatory to obtain a state driver’s license.