Register selectively for service

OK, conscientious objectors: What if they held a war and nobody came?

George Gold is a storage-systems engineer and motorcyclist living in Magalia.

It was 1970. I had dutifully registered with Selective Service. I was not a U.S. citizen, and I held a valid student deferment, although deferments were about to be abolished. There were returning Vietnam vets at my college—I heard first-hand accounts of their war experiences. I decided this is not right, and I was making plans to visit Canada.

Then, I literally won the lottery.

In a lottery-style draft, each day of the year is assigned a number from 1 to 365. Then each day is imprinted on a ping pong ball, and each ball is then drawn from a barrel. The order in which your birth date is drawn is your draft lottery number. I drew number 303.

Within days I went down to my local draft board and informed them I wanted to be classified 1-A, immediately eligible for military service. By making sure I was 1-A and eligible for the draft, with a 303 number, in that one year, I would never be called. The yearly quota was said to be satisfied at about 250.

That was all that was needed for me to stay out of the Army.

If I had to do it again, and I was more informed, I would have registered as a conscientious objector.

Just like joining the military, filing for Conscientious Objector status is something that should be an informed decision, free of lies or coercion. Today, there is no draft, but our government can activate one in 75 days!

What is active today is United States Selective Service Law requiring men to register within 30 days of turning 18. Do not register online! Although on the form from the Post Office there is no option to register as a conscientious objector, once the form is filled out, above your last name, you can write, “I am a conscientious objector to war.”

Put it in an envelope—do not mail it as a postcard—and send it registered mail. Additionally, make a copy of the completed form and mail it to yourself. Keep the unopened envelope so the post office date stamp is documented.

In the event that the draft is reinstated, upon Selective Service command, you will have 10 days to present your conscientious objector justification to prove you are “sincere.” In general, a man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims, so you should be maintaining your own conscientious-objector file documenting your participation in peace-related activities.

The rules of the draft can be changed at any time, but today, conscientious-objector alternatives are still part of Selective Service law.