During the Viet Nam War, The Armed Forces reached their personnel quotas
through voluntary enlistment and the implementation of the Selective Service
Draft. Women were not drafted, or used in direct combat situations, but could enlist, voluntarily, with service assignments in medical units and administrative
(clerical) positions. Combat roles could be avoided by enlisting in the Armed Forces Reserve units, or the National Guard, which were considered “homeland security”,
and, not subject to active duty assignment.
Deferments were granted to full-time college/ university students carrying a
Full-time Student designation (12 credits). Deferments were also granted to individuals with prohibitive medical conditions, Married with Children status, Sole- Surviving Sons, and Conscientious Objectors who could convincingly argue the legitimacy of their position on Religious or Philosophical grounds. All other males were subject to the provisions of the Draft. Individuals who determined that they would not serve, if drafted, who were not qualified for a deferment, were considered to be criminally fugitive and subject to arrest. Some went into “underground” hiding, and some were able to leave the confines of the United States, and become immigrant residents (and often citizens), of another country….typically Canada.
Eventually, a Birth Date-based Draft Lottery was established, and student deferments were disallowed, while other deferment allowances were maintained.
The Lottery was established in the wake of criticisms that the war was being fought,
primarily, by the poor, and the blue-collar worker, while service was being avoided by those with the economic were-with-all to become full time university students. Minorities were especially disadvantaged in this regard.
Prior to the advent of the modern wars in the Middle East, the Selective Service Lottery was eliminated, and replaced with an, all-volunteer armed forces, and women have been allowed to serve in direct combat roles as well.
The nature of the film “Two Days in October” begs the question of what one would now, in this time, DO, when faced with the similar dilemma of a mandatory call to service, which may be in conflict, with a personal decision to “decline” participation, based upon moral or ethical grounds?
Please comment on the following questions:
1. How would you deal with the imposition of a similar situation in your ongoing lives? (Is your primary allegiance to the “discretion” of your country’s call to service, perhaps at the expense of your own, and others lives? Or to the tenants of your privately held belief system?)
2. Tell me your thoughts on the relative merits of an “all-volunteer” military.
On the surface, this solution for staffing the armed forces seems to be the
most “morally responsible”, i.e. allowing for individual “disagreement” to exist, relative to military service. What negative outcomes do you see resulting from this?
seemingly, “ideal solution”?
3. What do you see as a fair and practical system in which a citizen can, contractually, meet their responsibility to provide service to their country, if that legally imposed mandate should exist? Who, if anyone, should be
excluded from the obligation of meeting this requirement?