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Let’s reinstate the draft

As a combat-wounded, Purple Heart Vietnam War Army veteran, I’m a member of the major veterans’ organizations (including the American Legion Post 31 in Boulder City), and also a few smaller groups. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was very involved with the Disabled American Veterans and at one point was elected commander of the California DAV. I’m still a member of the Los Angeles chapter and also of a chapter in Nevada. I receive the quarterly DAV magazine, and the current issue carries an article that is of some personal interest. It was written about the former military draft, and included an interview with DAV Past National Commander Dennis Joyner.

For a short period of time, Joyner worked for the DAV in Los Angeles, at the same time I was there. From time to time we would talk about veterans’ affairs and the rights of disabled veterans. Joyner is a triple amputee, having stepped on a land mine in Vietnam in 1968. (Full Disclosure: I was wounded in Vietnam by an enemy hand grenade, but did not lose limbs.)

The article discussed how Joyner was drafted, and went on to explain how the draft lottery worked. It was a random drawing with birthdates given sequential numbers. The closer a potential draftee’s birthday was to No.1, the more likely he was to be called up.

When the Vietnam War ended, President Nixon eliminated the draft, although registration of men when they turn 18 has continued. The Selective Service is an independent agency under federal law. In 2022, approximately 15.5 million men ages 18-25 were registered, according to a spokesman.

But the headline of the article was “Remembering the Draft,” and yes, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War vets remember it well, how it tended to disrupt their lives and in the case of the latter war, send them to interfere in a civil war that was none of our business (my opinion) where according to statistics, 17,671 draftees were killed. Joyner is quoted in the article about receiving his draft notice: “The only thought I had was ‘OK, I’ve been called; I go.” There was no other thought whatsoever.” In my case I was not happy about being called, but just like Joyner, I was called and I went.

So much for remembering. Let’s talk about the future. The U.S. has so many enemies these days. Russia, China, North Korea and a number of nations in the Middle East. We have a southern border that is so porous, thousands of undocumented men and women just walk across. (And in addition to those actually seeking a better life, who can say for certain that a few terrorists are not among them?) The point is, we could go to war at any minute. Sure the men who are registered would be called up. But they would require training and it would be a logistical nightmare. It would be months of chaos and confusion while we were under attack, and today’s war would take place on our soil, not thousands of miles away.

So, I call for reinstating the draft, which could help give us another military tool needed to stand up to our enemies. It would enhance our ability to defend the nation. It would also take a number of young unemployed and possibly homeless individuals off the streets.

We should also include women in a future draft. Females have already proven their worth in combat, and the U.S. could use the extra womanpower. Plus, all involved would learn discipline and the pride that comes with getting a job done.

Our fathers and grandfathers accepted the draft. They’re a part of what’s known as “The Greatest Generation.” As their sons and daughters, we’re doing pretty well ourselves, but there is always room for improvement.

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