May 26, 2000
Washington, D.C. The Selective Services System today released its first-ever state-by-state analysis of registration compliance data, and announced a series of partnership efforts with the U.S. Department of Education and key education organizations to bolster on-time registration. On average, the rankings show that nearly one out of five young men in the United States turning age 20 this year will fail to register, putting themselves at risk of losing out on important Federal opportunities linked to registration.
Federal law requires that virtually all young men living in the U.S. register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Late registrations are accepted through age 25, and many men register late. The names are gathered by the civilian-controlled agency in the event of a national crisis that would require a military draft. A prime concern of the agency is ensuring that any such call-up would be "fair and equitable." Over the past three decades, many reforms have been instituted to ensure fairness, and nationwide some 11,000 volunteers in virtually every community in America have been trained in the procedures necessary to conduct a fair process. In addition, "equity" requires the highest compliance rate possible.
To reinforce the requirement, Congress has made Selective Service registration a requirement for obtaining a number of federal benefits, including student loans, job training, government jobs, and citizens for male immigrants. Under Federal law, young men who do not register by the time they are 26 may never receive these benefits. Additionally, although rarely prosecuted, failure to register is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Many states and localities also link additional opportunities-such as student financial aid and state or municipal employment-to Selective Service registration.
"The American people, through their elected representatives, have made it clear that they believe Selective Service plays a vital role in ensuring that our country is prepared for a national emergency," said Selective Services director Gil Coronado. "Therefore, many benefits-benefits that are important to every man's future-have been linked to Selective Service registration. Our goal as an agency is to both ensure that we have registered every eligible man, and to ensure that we have done all we can to inform young men of the opportunities they are forgoing if they fail to register."
Coronado said that it is in this spirit the agency is reaching out to the U.S. education community to help raise awareness of the registration requirement and to support the agency's new initiative, Selective Service Week-a series of school and community-based awareness activities to be launched in the fall.
"Our research has consistently shown that the biggest barrier to young men's compliance is a simple lack of awareness," Coronado said. "It is tragic to see young men potentially missing out on future opportunities because they just do not know that they are required to register. But even more tragic is that our experience shows the young men most likely to miss the message are those from poor and underre-presented populations-the very men who stand the most to gain from these opportunities."