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13 Soper Road
Chesterville, Me. 04938

   

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rawlings@maine.edu

 


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CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR
 STATUS: A QUICK GUIDE ON WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO PROVE IT.

If, or when, a military draft is initiated it will likely be a birth date lottery system with limited exemptions. It is supposedly fairer than the Vietnam era system which was subject to manipulation by those able to "buy" exemptions through college deferments, medical disabilities, or subsidized trips abroad. Status of the draft can be tracked at www.sss.gov. If a draft is initiated it will be done quickly. Thus, anyone planning on claiming CO status should begin immediately to set up a CO file.

As the law now reads you have only 10 DAYS TO "PROVE" THAT YOU ARE A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. In order to "prove" a CO philosophy you will need to do a number of things. If you wait for the draft to start there will not be enough time to set up your CO status claim. Hopefully you will never have to use it, however, being prepared now is much easier then trying to claim CO status when on active duty. This can often lead to a world of hurt, degradation, and, in some cases, prison.

First: The mandatory draft registration card should be completed correctly and turned in to the Post Office or mailed. The statement "I am a Conscience Objector" should be written, or printed, in whatever space there is available on the card. Prior to mailing, or turning in to the Post Office, make a number of copies. One copy should be immediately mailed to yourself. This letter should not be opened. This is one proof that you thought about CO status prior to registration. Since the

actual card is destroyed once the data is extracted for the SS data base, there is no indication of your claim, that you are a CO, in the data base.

Second: You should begin a file which should contain the following:

    • A written, personal, statement should be composed as to your personal beliefs relative to war. It should include whether it is faith based, anti-imperial, anti-capitalism or anti-colonialism based. It should include books that you have read that have influenced your thinking, i.e. Gandhi, Thoreau, Malcolm X, King, Chomsky, the Bible, etc. Within your statement you have to make it clear that you are opposed to ALL war. You cannot be selective on this point. You should maintain an active membership in at least one peace organization and your attendance at rallies, demonstrations, protests, etc. should also be listed.
  • Letters from teachers, clergy, doctors, or veterans (anyone but parents or family) attesting to the sincerity of your beliefs are required. Two or three should be sufficient but more is better than less.

     

Your statements and file should be comprehensive. Having letters without going to demos or protests, or belonging to an organization without attending meetings, will not suffice. The people you will be dealing with will not be receptive to your claim so you should be ready, and able, to prove it. All statements and letters should be copied and notarize. Once your file is complete, a copy of everything should be mailed, certified with mail-return receipt required, to the Selective Service. Although your file will, in all probability, be destroyed the receipt will add to the proof that your CO philosophy began prior to your registration for the draft.

Four organizations are available for information and assistance:

  • Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). 1515 Cherry St, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (1-888-236-2226). www.objector.org . This site has links to WRL and AFSC.

     

  • War Resisters League (WRL). 339 Lafayette, New York City, NY 10012 (1-212-228-0450).

     

www.nonviolence.org/wrl..

 

  • All about conscientious objection. This link is an excellent page and answers important questions about why conscientious objection is import, what it is, what types of CO are recognized by law, what other types of conscientious objectors there are, and what obligations a person has to fulfill as a conscientious objector www.nisbco.org/What_Do_I.htm.

     

This guide has been prepared by Maine Veterans For Peace, 13 Soper Road, Chesterville, ME 04938.  Telephone: 207-293-2580. Maine Veterans For Peace will provide speakers and/or advice to those who wish to discuss CO status. Feel free to call us anytime.

...speaking from experience...

 

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