I Know I Won't Fight . . .
But How Do I Prove it?
You've looked at the options and decided that you do, in fact want to register. But you know that, in the unlikely
but still possible event of a draft, you would never fight in a war. Perhaps you're a woman, and want to register your protest
of the entire system. Is there any way you can tell Selective Service that you're a conscientious objector?
CCCO receives calls asking this question at least once a week. The answer is a definite yes and no. Even though the registration
card has no official space for it, you can still put yourself on record as a conscientious objector. Write on the bottom of
the registration card, I am a conscientious objector. Photocopy the actual card a few times; place one of the copies in a
sealed envelope before mailing the card to Selective Service; then mail the copy to yourself on the same day that you register.
Since the actual card is destroyed after processing, your sealed, postmarked envelope is the only existing record of your
notice to the Selective Service.
Of course, if you had to prove a conscientious objector claim to a draft board, you'd need more than a postcard - and you
may not have much time to prepare your claim after receiving an induction order. Some young men, when they register, will
collect letters from teachers, friends, religious leaders and others who know of their beliefs. Letters should attest to the
sincerity of your convictions.
Many people find preparing a conscientious objector claim to be a good way of examining and reaffirming their own feelings
about war, peace and social justice. Choosing Peace: A Handbook on War, Peace and Your Conscience, available from CCCO, offers
more details. You may want to join with other young people about to turn eighteen, share this brochure and discuss your beliefs.
However, at CCCO we urge you to go beyond compiling a claim.
For those of us who declare ourselves conscientious objectors, whether or not we're at risk of being drafted, the real
challenge is to end all conscription. That means working to end draft registration. It also means taking on the other Selective Service, the poverty draft.
The Selective Service System has an official page as well. But don't believe everything you read.
Legal Definition of a Conscientious Objector
If there were a draft . . .
Before anyone could be drafted, Congress and the President would have to enact legislation authorizing new draft calls.
Under present law (which would probably change with a new draft), Selective Service would first select randomly among those
who turned 20 in the calendar year of the call-up (the famous "lottery" system). In practice, while it's possible that a draft
could move beyond the age 20 selection group, the odds are against it.
If you were called up, you would receive an induction notice requiring you to report on a certain date not less than 10
days from the date of the notice, to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) unless you filed a claim for exemption
or deferment. Filing a claim involves no more than checking a box on a form, and submitting it it the Selective Service. After
the SSS receives the claim, they will send you more forms to complete. You must apply for any and all exemptions for which
you think you may qualify, and/or for classification as a conscientious objector. At this writing, the major possible exemptions
and classifications are:
- a minister or divinity student
- the sole surviving son of a family whose father, mother or siblings have died as a result of military action
- the sole financial or other support to family members who are dependent, elderly, disabled and/or ill
- physically or mentally incapable of being in the military
- lesbian, gay or bisexual
- a conscientious objector.
After you filed a claim, your induction date will be postponed while the draft board evaluates its validity. If your claim
is rejected, you will receive a new induction date. CCCO would help you find lawyers and/or counselors to help you through
the lengthy appeals process.
|405 14th Street #205
Oakland, CA 94612
Fax 510 465-2459
|1515 Cherry St|
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors