Memo to June Graduates: Here are your choices under the draft
You can take your chances, hoping you never will be called. Many are trying this.
Here are the facts:
- You have to register at age 18. But you are not liable for service until your draft board reaches your name, under rules that put all “volunteer inductees” ahead of those who wait; all older men ahead of younger ones; all non-fathers before fathers.
- The upshot is that in the “call” for 13,000 men in May, for example, most will be volunteers. The few youths actually drafted will be 22 years of age or older with rare exceptions. Some will be inducted because they failed to observe rules and became “delinquent.”
- Passed by, in May as in previous months, will be thousands of draft-age youths who have been “waiting out” the draft for years. Their liability ends at age 26. Those who take a deferment remain technically liable until age 35, but few if any older men are taken except in time of war.
- The draft law itself expires in 14 months, on July 1, 1959 — unless Congress extends it again, as it has done four times since 1948.
Or, you can pick your service, hoping to win a commission or to satisfy your military obligations at a convenient time. If this is your choice, you have many different courses to choose from, depending on your age. These choices, which are subject to local quotas in each case, are officially summarized as follows:
At age 17 to 18-1/2 you can…
- Enlist in the 6-Months Reserve Plan of the Army, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. If accepted, you take 6 months’ training, then are deferred from the 2-year draft. But if you sign up for a total of 8 years, must participate in weekly drills for 4 years in the Army Reserves; 7-1/2 years in reserve units of other services.
- Or, you can enlist in the National Guard, or Air National Guard, under a 6-months’ training plan similar to the Reserve setup.
At age 17 to 26 you can…
- Volunteer for induction at your draft board, serve 2 years on active duty followed by 2 years in the Ready Reserve and 2 years in Standby.
- Or, you can enlist for 3 years in the Army or Marines, for 4 years in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Air Force.
At age 18 to 28 you can…
- Get a commission by successfully completing a college officer-training program such as ROTC. After college you will have to take 2 years of active duty followed by 4 years in Reserve; or, if not needed on active duty, take 6 months’ training and serve 7-1/2 years in Reserve.
At age 18-1/2 to 26 (or 35 if once deferred) you can…
- Enlist in the Reserve for 6 years, serving the first six months on active-duty training and being deferred from the draft as long as you participate satisfactorily in the Ready Reserve up to a total of 5-1/2 years.
- Or, you can enlist in a Reserve unit for 8 years, if your draft board will approve you as a critically skilled person in a defense-supporting industry or activity, and then serve 6 months on active duty followed by 7-1/2 years in the Standby Reserve.