On the Return of a Military Draft

RECEIVED Fri., May 28, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Thanks for Michael Ventura's "Letters @ 3am" [May 14] focusing on the possible return of a military draft. Ventura made several good points, but clarification is needed about seeking conscientious objector status in the event of a draft. Case law during the Vietnam War made it possible for young people to apply for conscientious objector status based on "moral or ethical" grounds, not only religious grounds. One need not follow any religious practice or belong to any religious group in order to prove a well-founded objection to participation in war, nor would one need a statement from a pastor to support one's claim. Also, it's not too late for high school seniors or college students to assemble a CO claim. It is recommended that young people create files for themselves of documents that would support a CO claim, including written statements from adults who can vouch for their sincerity. Such files should also contain one's own statement of belief regarding war, papers or reports one may have written for school, or fliers saved from events one has attended that show one's objection to war.
   Is a military draft likely? Opinions differ, but if there were a draft, those turning 20 would likely be drafted first, and they would have little time to prepare a CO claim. So, it would be wise to start putting together materials now, even if it just means collecting supporting documents in a shoebox. I don't share Ventura's sense of imminence about a draft, but I agree that a draft would likely include women this time around.
   For more information, contact The Center on Conscience & War at www.nisbco.org, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors at www.objector.org, or locally, Nonmilitary Options for Youth at 467-2946. Enlisted personnel can call the GI Rights Hotline at 800/394-9544.
Susan Van Haitsma
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