HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Every man in the United States must register with selective service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. The selective service registration would be used if the president and congress enacted a draft.
“It is a man’s duty to present himself knowingly and willfully by registering,” said Wadi Yakhour.
Yakhour is the Chief of Staff for the Selective Service System. He says nationwide millions of American men have failed to register with selective service.
“The compliance rate nationally is roughly ninety-two to ninety-three percent. Coincidentally Pennsylvania is only at 83 percent, which isn’t bad but it is our second worst state in the country behind California,” said Yakhour.
If men do not register with selective service by their 26th birthday they could face prison time and be fined up to $250,000. The government hasn’t prosecuted anyone since the 1980’s, however there are other consequences for failing to register.
“You become ineligible to work for the federal government and you become ineligible to receive federal student loans and grants in some cases,” said Yakhour.
Currently over 110 thousand men in Pennsylvania have failed to register with selective service.
“We think that these unconstitutional punishments need to be recognized as such and overturned,” said Maria Santelli.
Santelli is the Executive Director of the Center on Conscience and War. The group opposes the idea of a draft and supports conscientious objectors.
“Every individual has to obey their own conscience and for some people it is a violation of their conscience even to put their name on a list,” said Santelli.
If someone is opposed to war for religious or ethical reasons the group suggests registering with selective service at the post office and writing you are a conscientious objector on the card.
“The selective service does not register anyone as a conscientious objector at this time but your claim will be documented and it will start a paper trail,” said Santelli.
According to Yakhour, the government is working on improving its Alternative Service Program.
“It gives conscientious objectors the opportunity to serve their country without picking up a weapon and without participating in war,” said Yakhour.
Immigrants are also required to register with selective service. If they don’t their citizenship can be pushed back for 5 years.
Over 40 states have legislation that requires men to register with selective service to get their drivers license or identification card. Pennsylvania is not one of those state.
You can register with Selective Service online, at the post office, and when you apply for federal students aid. Many school districts also have counselors or staff that help men register when they turn 18.