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:
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:
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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