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Should the U.S. government add women to the draft?

Past National Commander Denise Rohan speaks to The American Legion’s National Security Commission on Saturday, Aug. 28.

PHOENIX — Woman and men should be required to sign up for the draft, and not just men.

That was the topic of a presentation by Past American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan of Wisconsin before the Legion’s National Security Commission on Saturday, Aug. 28. She is the director for Selective Service in Wisconsin.

Many Americans know the country has an all-volunteer military, but many don’t know men ages 18 to 26 are required to sign up for the Selective Service System, aka “the draft.” At one time, they would register at the local Post Office. These days, most young men sign up when they get their driver’s license or by going online to sss.gov.

“Hopefully, we would never need to implement the draft,” Rohan said.

Recently, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case claiming the all-male draft is unconstitutional. In 2015, the Pentagon opened up combat roles for women.

Rohan told how Congress, in 2016, issued a commission to look at bringing women into Selective Service, and with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, gave that commission two charges, one of which was reviewing the Selective Service System.

After 2 1/2 years of research, in March 2020, it issued a report called “Inspired to Service.” The report defined “service” among other actions and, notably, it called for men and women to sign up for Selective Service.

Rohan said the Selective Service System could quickly handle the change. She said the agency director says, “The agency remains nimble on this issue.”

She also said there is a need for 18-year-olds to better understand Selective Service and influence other teens to sign up.

Forty-one states, four territories and the District of Columbia have driver’s license-based registration. The nine without it are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wyoming.

And of the 41 states with it, most are written to say “all males.” That means laws in many states would need to be changed to be gender-neutral, she said.

So would aspects of the Solomon Amendment that denies educational assistance to males who have not registered with Selective Service.

Adding women to Selective Service is a resolution The American Legion approved two years ago at the 2019 National Convention in Indianapolis.

 

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