Make a Difference in a Young Man’s Life: Remind Him to Register with Selective Service



Important opportunities such as college loans, driver’s license tied to registration

selective_serviceEven though many adult men may not realize it, the simple act of registering with Selective Service probably helped shape the course of their lives. In fact, any man living in the U.S. who ever got a college degree thanks to student loans, or who was able to get a better job after participating in a federally funded job training program, first had to register with Selective Service.

And just like you probably had to be told more than once that the piece of paper from the government sitting on the kitchen table was something you needed to pay attention to, there’s probably a young man in your life who could stand a reminder of the facts of registration.

[pullquote][tweet_dis]According to Federal law, virtually all men living in the United States must register with Selective Service when they turn 18[/tweet_dis].[/pullquote] According to Federal law, virtually all men living in the United States must register with Selective Service when they turn 18. Failure to register is a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment, though the Justice Department is not currently actively prosecuting men for failure to register. However, the American people – through their elected representatives in Congress and at the state and local levels across the country – have deemed Selective Service registration important enough to link it to numerous important opportunities.

For instance, men who fail to register cannot receive Federal student loans or participate in federally funded job training programs. They are barred from working for the Federal government, and many states, counties and municipalities also require registration for jobs ranging from office worker to fire fighter to law enforcement officer to paramedic.

In addition, most states don’t allow men who are not registered to receive or renew their driver’s license. And immigrant men wishing to become citizens must be registered with Selective Service if they are residents of the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25, regardless of their immigration status. This includes men who are refugees or are undocumented.

Despite these facts, thousands of young men fail to register. [pullquote]The No. 1 reason they give for not registering is that they didn’t know they were supposed to.[/pullquote] The No. 1 reason they give for not registering is that they didn’t know they were supposed to. A friendly reminder from a trusted role model is oftentimes all it takes.

To be in compliance with the law, men must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday, but if they miss that window it is still important to register. Beginning at age 17, men can pre-register with Selective Service. Men who do not register by the time they turn 26 are ineligible to register, and therefore potentially permanently barred from the many opportunities tied to registration.

Registration is quick and easy. It can be done online at or by filling out a registration form available at the post office. The only information that a man must provide is his name, date of birth, and current address. Selective Service registrations are not currently cross-referenced with immigration, law enforcement or similar government lists.

Registration is the law, but it is also important to the security of our nation. Although the last military draft ended in 1973 – and the unlikely event of a future draft would require the authorization of both houses of Congress and the signature of the President – the mission of the Selective Service System is to maintain a database of all American men between the ages of 18 and 25 who could be called upon in the case of a national emergency.

Take a minute to remind a young man that it’s time to register with Selective Service. Your future may have depended on it, and his could too.


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