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Teens and the Military
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Teens and the Military
My son, who recently turned 18, received a letter saying he must register
with selective service or face serious consequences such as heavy fines and
possible imprisonment. I have heard that it is more likely that he could
be denied financial assistance for school, etc. But I'm wondering why I've
never heard about this. Does he have to register? I don't like the idea
of him being at risk for the draft, as unlikely as that may be. On the
other hand, I also don't want him to be at risk for not following through
with something required by law. I would love to hear what other people
know about this and to be advised about what to do. Thank you!
Just a few days ago, I attended a financial aid information session given at a local
high school. The speaker, who works at in the financial aid office of a well known
Bay Area university, said that on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student
Aid) there is a question regarding the selective service. My understanding is the if
your son is 18 and has NOT completed the selective service forms, then he will NOT be
able to apply for federal financial aid.
Simple answer: Yes. Your son has to register.
Yes. He must register. Here is government website for more information.
Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male aliens living in the U.S., who are 18 through
25, are required to register with Selective Service. It's important to know that even
though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military.
In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random
lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical
and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military
service or inducted into the Armed Forces.
East Bay Mom
Of course your son has to register for selective service! Every male citizen of the
US is required to register when he turns 18 - whether you like the idea of a draft or
not - it is his obligation as a citizen of this country to register in order to be
called if needed to protect this country. Incidentally there has not been a draft
since Vietnam so you probably don't have anything to worry about - nonetheless this
is part of the quid pro quo you participate in as a citizen! If you don't like it
then work for peace in the world, in the meantime he needs to fulfill his
responsibility as an adult in this country, which technically he now is!
Do Your Duty
The upshot: yes, men are legally required to register for the draft upon turning 18.
The penalties on paper are stronger than the actual enforcement; however, federal
finacial aid (Pell grants, Stafford Loans) is cross-matched with the draft
registration lists, so unregistered guys are automatically ineligible for a huge
amount of college funding. I worked many jobs with men who were unregistered and
working their way through a few credits at a time. The historically Quaker colleges
(Earlham, Haverford, Swarthmore) will have earmarked funds for tuition assistance to
support men who do not register for the draft. Central Committee on Conscientious
Objection and the American Friends Service Committe have both been advising families
and young men since World War II and can readily advise you about current draft
registration policies. My son is young so I have not researched this in a while-- but
again, both organzations can provide good information.
Not raising a soldier either
Greetings - we just collected the mail, and found an over-
sized folded mailer from the Marines, addressed to my 16-
year-old sophomore son, inviting him to ''protect America's
future'' and to ''call on a friend to defend with you.''
WHAT?! So here are my questions: how did he get on this
mailing list, are schools and/ore testing sites required
by law to provide this information to the Department of
Defense (or other agency), is there any way to get off
this mailing list, how long will we continue to get these
mailings? My son is as likely to go into the military as
I am likely to become a neuro-surgeon, but it's still a
curious thing and I find myself interested to know a
little more about this whole aspect of the government's
involvement in his young life.
Heading to Canada like in the old days if need be
It was part of Bush's NCLB (No Child Left Behind) that military recruiters
must have access to information for all kids in public high schools. You
must sign ''Opt Out'' forms and return them to the school or district if
you do not want that stuff sent to your house. You should find out from
your district how to get the opt out forms, but you may be closing the barn
door after the horses have already left, and may just have to deal with
junk mail now and potential phone calls in the future as he gets nearer to
17 or 18. Berkeley High offers these forms en mass to all students at the
beginning of every school year but I have no idea how others
schools/districts handle it.
The main way military recruiters get student names, amazingly, is from
the high school.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) contains a provision that says that high
schools that receive federal money- so, basically, public schools- must
turn student home contact information over to military recruiters and give
access to military recruiters to students in schools or risk loosing
This is just one of the ways military recruiters get student
information from schools. Another common way is when students take the
ASVAB. ASVAB is the Armed FOrces Vocational Aptitude Battery, given to
recruits as a placement test, and is marketed in high schools as a free
career test. But this is a primary recruiting tool, and unless the district
chooses option 8 and withholds student information, it is send to military
When military recruiters come to schools, they often offer climbing
walls or challenges to do a number of pushups, but get the students'
signatures and use that to recruit. And it isn't only mailings: recruiters
will call, and even show up at a house.
And, of course, JROTC in high schools is a ready made source of
Lastly, kid's names are everywhere, and those lists are sold.
Driver's license applications, SATs- a lot of this information makes its
way to the military through the web and through the Joint Advertising
Market Research and Studies (JAMRS) http://www.jamrs.org/, where military
recruiters work with marketing firms to get student information.
There is some good news. NCLB also says that parents and students
have the choice to opt out of having student information sent to military
recruiters, and schools are supposed to let parents and students know this.
Maryland is the first state to make it illegal for schools to send names to
military recruiters when taking the ASVAB. Activists in schools are making
policy that restricts military recruiting in the school so that it isn't
more invasive than college or job recruiting.
The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth has
information, pamphlets, and contact information for local activists. You
can also find the Oakland and San Francisco policies at http://nnomy.org.
I have a 20 year old son who has not registered for the selective service. Since he has not had
to apply for financial aid or citizenship, this has not affected him, but I'm wondering what the
risks and consequences are? Last year, he had a scrape with the law in another state
(shoplifting) and now has a misdemeanor on his record. If there were a draft, he would likely
claim conscientious objector status. I would appreciate hearing from other parents or those
knowledgeable about the law. Thank you.
For more information about Slective Service Registration you can
contact The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO).
There's an office in Oakland: 405 14th Street, Suite #205, Oakland
94612. Phone 1-888-231-2226. Ask for a pamphlet ''What the
Government Doesn't Want You to Know about Draft Registration.'' They
give the guidelines on the issues if one chooses not to register.
If you won't and can't be part of the military, then they recommend
that if you are a Conscientious Objector (CO) that you write on the
form in bold ''I am a Conscientious Objector,'' and photcopy the card
several times. Mail one copy to Selective Service and one one copy
to yourself the same day. The actual card is destroyed after
processing, so the only exisitng record would be your own notice.
It is important to keep a file of all activities, papers written,
photographs, etc. that might support one as a CO over time.
Mother of a CO
Last night our daughter (an only child) informed us that she wants to enlist in
the Military when she graduates from Berkeley High in June. She will be 18,
and legally we will be powerless to stop it. I feel like I've been hit by a truck.
My wife and I are totally devastated.
We would like to hear from people who have sons or daughters in or know
people who have been to Iraq or Afghanistan. We are not looking for
expressions of sympathy or necessarily any advice. We would like to
talk with people who know the realities first hand of what being in the military
AT THIS TIME this can mean. She has been talking to the recruiters. We have to be
certain that she understands the reality of what she will be getting into. We
may like to have her talk with your knowledgeable person.
I would like to contact people off list via e-mail if possible.
If you do not have first hand knowledge, or know someone who does who
would be willing to talk with us/her, please do not respond. I don't feel that a
political discussion or uniformed opinions will be of help to anyone in or
outside of our family. People, this is as real as it gets.
My nephew was stationed for a year in Iraq. He enlisted
in the National Guard in Nebraska and was sent over a year
ago this Christmas, arriving back home in time for
Christmas this year. If you would like to contact him
about his experiences while in Iraq and his experiences
dealing with the military (though the different branches
of service are different), I can forward his e-mail
address to you. Similarly, if you are interested in
hearing how families cope with having their members
stationed in the war zone, I could forward my brother's e-
mail address. These are Nebraskans and so their political
attitudes tend to be more conservative than those of
people in Berkeley, but they have had the real experience
(loss of life in my nephew's unit, for example) and have
worked with the institutions and the support groups in
their area, so perhaps they can answer some questions.
Write to me if you are interested.
Good wishes to you and your family in this difficult
An excellent resource would be Iraq Vets Against the
War: www.ivaw.org. I'm sure they would have someone with
recent real life experience in the military who could talk
to your daughter. They also have a ''Truth in Recruitment''
project. Good luck.
I have two suggestions for you and your daughter. Get in
touch with the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma,
http://www.peaceandjusticesonomaco.org and watch
the ''Before You Enlist'' video on Youtube,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFsaGv6cefw. My heart goes
out to you.
For the person asking about dealing with his daughter
enlisting in the military, I have a friend who went
through this hell with her sons. She is very willing to
speak to you or e-mail privately. Contact:
sue_______. I hope it's helpful.
Our 18 year old daughter, about to graduate from high
school, has become enamored with the military. In fact,
despite (or perhaps in in spite of) our pacifist, leftist
leanings, she has already signed up for deferred enlistment
in the US Army later this summer. Although this in entirely
revokable, we see no signs that she is going to change her
We are deeply concerned (scared to death!) that she has no
clue about what she is really likely to come up against in
the Army. She is in love with the structured environment
and the idea of belonging to a tight knit group, but seems
completely oblivious to the moral, psychological, or
physical realities of war and military service for the US at
this time in history. Her actual experience is limited to a
year participating in the Civil Air Patrol which we
tolerated and hoped she would grow beyond.
Our daughter has had an up and down experience academically
in high school, hasn't enjoyed being a student much, and is
definitely not looking forward to college although she has
been admitted to some creditable schools. We are happy to
look at alternatives to college right now that are less
drastic than the army.
We have had her talk to a few people we know who have served
in the military with mixed to horrific experiences, but so
far this hasn't seemed to have much influence.
As an added wrinkle, our daughter lives in two homes and is
being supported in her military aspirations in the other home.
We are looking for:
1. Alternative activities/organizations that might
provide structure and sense of belonging after high school
and some creative learning.
2. More ways to communicate the downside of military
service for a woman in the US in 2007.
What about the Peace Corps or another organization that is
more involved with peaceful missions? Habitat for Humanity
that just sounds awful -- you must be worried to the bone.
you are doing exactly the right things -- she knows how
you feel and why, and it is a great idea to look for other
structured places to go. there must be service
opportunities that don't involve combat, and some of them
at least must pay -- perhaps she will decide she'd rather
be working at a school, or health care clinic, or helping
old people, or at a national or regional park, etc.
but here is the hard part, for parents of legal adults --
we have to butt out and let them decide. as a matter of
fact, backing off an acknowledging this is her choice may
allow her to consider what she will do more seriously. it
takes that oppositional ''you can't make me'' thing out of
''you are an adult. i feel this way, but it is your
decision. i will always love you.'' that's what your
daughter needs to hear, and even though it is rough for us
to transition from our caretaker roles, it is also what we
have to do, have to say.
I am so sorry your daughter wants to serve in the military.
I would be upset (that's an understatement) if I were in
your situation. It appears there are two things going on
here. First, her decision is being supported by whoever
lives in the other home. I'm assuming it's her other parent.
What that means is that from her point of view, you just
don't agree with her and she is not going to change her mind
just because you don't like what she is doing. From her
perspective, she has the support of one parent. Unless you
can get that parent to stop encouraging her, you're not
going to be able to have an impact. Second, she did spend a
year in Civil Air Patrol and had a positive enough
experience that she decided she wanted to go into the
military. She has also talked to people who have been in the
military and heard first hand all the terrible things that
go on. Even so, she still wants to go. There are people in
this world who truly desire a military career and it appears
your daughter is one of them. You may have to get used to
this fact no matter how painful it may be. There really is
nothing more you can do to stop her. She is 18 and she can
do what she wants whether you support her or not. If you
were to show her another type of highly structured
environment i.e. monastery, intentional community, etc. she
would probably just ignore you because it's not the type of
structured environment she is attracted to. There is one
thing you could do, however. Suggest she join the California
Conservation Corps (www.ccc.ca.gov). Not only is it highly
structured and tightly knit, it also involves emergency
response which might be close enough to the military for her
to consider joining.
In 1981, my parents were like you on this (I am also
female). The compromise was that I would join the Army
Reserves and attend college full time at the same time.
After one year of college I could choose full-time Army if
I wanted. After that one year I decided to stay in the
Reserves and finish college. I stayed in the Reserves for
23 years and it was the best choice I ever made. There was
no awful, horrific downside. I think because I tested high
on the entrance test, and because I am also a typical
Berkeley independent thinker, I did very well in the Army,
winning many awards and special assignments.
-- former woman sergeant
I would certainly share your scared-to-death worry if one
of my kids were choosing this path at this time. I also
agree with the other posts about seeking alternatives like
the Conservation Corps or Peace Corp and I'd do further
research on other organizations that offer structure,
discipline, hierarchary and the like.
Here's what also came to mind upon reading your post -
when I was a teen, way back when, my mom knew I was
running a bit amok with and among a group of friends (at
Berkeley High) who were all doing a lot of sleeping
around. So one day, as an extension of her work (she's
now a retired doctor) we went to the AIDS ward at UCSF.
She actually didn't really have to say a thing after
that. Very impactful. So I'd be heading off with my
daughter to a VA hospital right about now, to show her the
lasting inevitable price that some soldiers pay for their
service in wartime. I'd also recommend the chilling HBO
series about the Baghdad ER room. Very grim and very
real. Finally, any chance of enlisting support from the
Best of luck for a safe and secure outcome
this page was last updated: Nov 8, 2013
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