Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Workplace Culture Experts & Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Workplace Culture Experts & Barefoot Wine Founders

Will the Draft End at the Hand of 18-Year-Old Women?

Will the Draft End at the Hand of 18-Year-Old Women? 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

Recently, we learned that a Houston Southern District Court Federal Judge ruled an all-male draft to be unconstitutional since it violates equal protection principles. All males must register with the selective service once they turn 18, despite nobody being conscripted for more than 40 years. One would presume this requires 18-year-old females to register as well.

This development brings up a series of debates about female equality, women in the military, and changes in military tech, but an even bigger debate is whether or not we even need a draft.

The Dreaded Draft

Michael lived in fear of being drafted throughout his entire college career. Thankfully, he never was. Vietnam wasn’t exactly a popular war among the young soldiers who were forced to fight it. Most were drafted against their wishes—taken from their classrooms and put right on the front lines with barely any training. Many died, and many of those who didn’t come home with lost limbs, PTSD, and/or drug addiction.

Despite the fact that many women enlisted and served, they weren’t drafted against their will—only men were. This, combined with the war’s unpopularity, ultimately ended the draft.

Both of Michael’s brothers voluntarily joined, hoping for a choice of duties rather than waiting to be drafted. Michael filed for student deferments, which became less and less effective as time went on. His classmates were being drafted and sent away to Vietnam. Many people left the country and were therefore branded as draft-dodging, and “un-American”. Imagine that—being too young to vote, yet you could be drafted at any time against your will to fight a war that you don’t have a say in.

Eventually, the Selective Service hosted a lottery and actually had a woman on TV pulling Ping-Pong balls out of a huge bowl like she was hosting Keno or Bingo. There were 366 balls with a birthdate printed on each. The first balls drawn represented the birthdates of the first young men drafted. Thankfully, Michael’s birthdate was drawn toward the end. But the draft ultimately ended, and so did the war—and the US stopped punishing “draft dodgers” in 1977. What a relief!

Reconsidering Our Votes When it comes to Drafting

What’s most interesting about this story, as scary as the draft was, is that it forced the US to take an interest in the way their officials thought about the draft and the war. The draft was solely responsible for numerous casualties of those who were ripped from the general public to be conscripted into duty.

Today, the debate to eliminate the draft is based on the idea of volunteer-based armed forces—a professional army. While we are eternally thankful for volunteer soldiers’ sacrifices, we worry about the possibility of apathy and a disconnect with the general public.

Wars with a draft did not exceed 4 years, for the most part. Now, they can apparently go on forever! Why? With the draft, it hit too close to home. Now, it’s “someone else’s job.” With the draft, sons were torn away from their careers and families without their consent. But now, with volunteering soldiers, people may say, “They knew the job was dangerous when they took it.” Some folks are even discussing turning certain wars over to private businesses to avoid repercussion.

As awful as the draft was, it forced people to be opinionated and speak publicly about the wisdom of the war. When officials fought for reelection, the vigilant and motivated majority held them accountable. The draft was on everyone’s mind.

But having said all that—we are not in favor of the draft. We are, however, against the kind of apathy that encourages warfare without accountability. Maybe with women now subject to being drafted, we’ll come up with a way to end it all without starting endless wars. Our servicemen and women deserve civilian oversight and constant awareness of the important decision-makers that put them in harm’s way.

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