By: N.L. Preston
HOUSTON – Almost immediately after President Donald Trump’s initiated killing of one of Iran’s top generals, Qassem Soleimani, panic spread across social media from young people fearing they would be forced into the battlefield due to the draft.
Hashtags on Black Twitter, including #NoWarinIran, #TrumpsWar and #WorldWarIII showed concerns Black youth felt, thinking that filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may have put their lives in danger.
Memes using celebrity stunned-face gifs saying things like, “Just realized I have to go to war because FAFSA made me sign up for the Selective Service,” and “Niggas after they hear a knock on their door & remember they filled out the Selective Service on their FAFSA,” flooded timelines, being shared thousands of times.
Just realized I have to go to war because FAFSA made me sign up for the Selective Service pic.twitter.com/bga991hWDB
— Ed Odyssey: Universal Prophet (@ODYSSEY_199) January 3, 2020
The misinformation was so heavy, some thought they would be notified of them being drafted through text messages. The United States Army chimed in with a “Fact Check” to shut those rumors down.
Fact check: The @USArmy is NOT contacting anyone regarding the draft.
Text messages currently circulating are false and are not official Army communications.
Read more: https://t.co/csGpTQNfQc
— U.S. Army Recruiting (@usarec) January 7, 2020
Although some memes on social media were comical, the fears were not, as the Selective Service website crashed due to an influx of hits from those trying to learn more.
— Black Twittér (@6lackbirdie) January 3, 2020
Selective Service officials released a statement via Twitter, letting the youth know they were misinformed and not in any immediate threat of being hauled off unwillingly to war.
“The Selective Service System is conducting business as usual. In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the President would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft,” the agency tweeted, also acknowledging that the high traffic flooding the site caused it to shut down.
The Selective Service System is conducting business as usual. In the event that a national emergency necessitates a draft, Congress and the President would need to pass official legislation to authorize a draft. pic.twitter.com/M4tY2dLoX1
— Selective Service (@SSS_gov) January 3, 2020
Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time. If you are attempting to register or verify registration, please check back later today as we are working to resolve this issue. We appreciate your patience.
— Selective Service (@SSS_gov) January 3, 2020
FAFSA also jumped in to help ease fears, educating the public on the draft and the requirement of filling out the selective service portion when applying for loans.
“We know there are questions on this…registering with Selective Service has been a longstanding requirement to receive federal student aid/a federal job. However, the U.S. military has been all-volunteer since 1973 & Congress would need to pass a new law to institute a draft. There is no priority order for Selective Service based on the FAFSA form (they use a random lottery number and year of birth),” the tweet read.
We know there are questions on this…registering with Selective Service has been a longstanding requirement to receive federal student aid/a federal job. However, the U.S. military has been all-volunteer since 1973 & Congress would need to pass a new law to institute a draft. 1/2
— Federal Student Aid (@FAFSA) January 3, 2020
Both the Selective Service and FAFSA released the information about how a military draft works and the need to register for Selective Service for financial aid. Here’s a quick breakdown:
A draft is the mandatory enrollment of individuals into the armed forces. The United States military has been all-volunteer since 1973. But an Act of Congress could still reinstate the draft in case of a national emergency. The Selective Service System is the agency that registers men and is responsible for running a draft.
• Any person assigned the sex of male at birth who is between the ages of 18 to 25 is required to register for the draft. Eligible citizens are required to register within 30 days of turning 18, and immigrants must register within 30 days of entering the U.S.
• If someone who is eligible for the draft has not yet registered, they’re generally unable to get federal financial aid for higher education. FAFSA offers applicants a way to register for the draft in the aid application. Those who are ineligible for draft exemption and who failed to register are not granted federal financial aid, according to the Federal Student Aid Handbook.
• Draft exemptions include males currently in the armed services and on active duty, not including members of the Reserve and National Guard who are not on active duty, males under the age of 18 at the time they complete their FAFSA, non-citizens of the U.S. who came to the country after turning 26 years old, and transgender males.
• Eligible males who forgo federal student loans or do not go to college are not omitted from the draft. Those who choose not to register are susceptible to a felony charge and a fine of up to $250,000, a prison sentence of up to five years, or a combination of the two.
Just to be clear, all men from 18 to 25 years old are required to register with the Selective Service System. Many young men check a box to register when getting a driver’s license. Others sign up when applying for federal student aid to attend college, but just because you registered doesn’t mean you will be drafted.
In order to activate the draft, Congress and the president must sign legislation. According to the Selective Service System’s website, the first group to be entered into a draft lottery would be men who are within the calendar year of their 20th birthdays, followed by those who are 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. Those who are 18 and 19 would likely not be drafted.
Can anyone be exempt? YES. After undergoing physical, mental and moral evaluations, depending on the results, some men can file a claim to be exempt, or to postpone or defer military service.
Also many want to know if women be drafted? The answer is simple, NO!
— tiddy boi (@Loyal2theOil) January 4, 2020