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Selective Service For Women

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Despite not having utilized the draft since Vietnam, America still maintains its Selective Service system through which able-bodied young men between the ages of 18 and 25 must register. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were at their peak, rumors abounded of the possibility at re-instating the draft should the military draw too far below its recruiting goals in order to maintain a presence overseas. The personnel shortage even led to the consideration of expanding the draft’s eligibility through age 34 and including women.

The Supreme Court upheld in 1981 that it was constitutional to exclude women by drafting only men. In more than a decade of combat against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no frontline and all soldiers are exposed to the threat of insurgent violence. In 2011, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, composed of military officers, businessmen and academics, recommended that women be allowed to serve in combat units. The matter is being addressed due to a number of criteria ranging from the modern lack of “frontline combat” to the ban creating a barrier to promotion. Admiral Mike Mullen commented last November, “I’d be hard pressed to say that any woman who serves in Afghanistan today, or who served in Iraq over the last few years, did so without facing the risks of their male counterparts.” The movement took until 2015 when Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all military combat positions would be available for women.

Equality cuts both ways.

As women have pushed and fought over the years to be recognized on the same playing field as men, the question on selective service is tipping in their direction now, too. The Army Secretary John McHugh basically indicates that for the military to achieve true parity in terms of equality, then all aspects must be considered and that includes the draft. After all, women have just proven themselves capable of passing Ranger School in addition to serving for nearly 14 years in “frontless” combat – so therefore it can no longer be argued they cannot handle military service.

Men that do not register for selective service cannot:

  • get federal student loans or grants
  • be employed as a federal employee
  • get US citizenship (as an immigrant)
  • and face felony charges with $250K in fines and/or 5 years imprisonment

So now that women have proven, via years of fighting to tear down the barriers of entry, they can tackle tough roles in the military – why should they not be subject to the same draft (whether its used or not) as men while getting such huge benefits with no strings attached?

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