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Return to the Draft

There is no draft at present.

In the event of a national emergency which required a draft, the following sections provide information on the Sequence of Events, the different Classifications which have been used in the past, Postponements, Deferments, and Exemptions, and the peacetime Medical Draft.


Sequence of EventsClassificationsPostponements, Deferments, ExemptionsMedical Draft

Sequence of Events

Overview of What Would Occur if the United States Returned to a Draft:

1. Draft Authorization: Congress and the President

A national emergency, exceeding the Department of Defense’s capability to recruit and retain its total force strength, requires Congress to amend the Military Selective Service Act to authorize the President to induct personnel into the Armed Forces.

2. Activation of Selective Service System

Selective Service activates and orders all personnel to report for duty. Reserve Force Officers, along with selected military retirees, begin to open Area Offices to accept registrant claims. Local, District Appeal, and National Board members are notified to report for refresher training.

3. The Lottery

A publicly attended, nationally televised and live-streamed lottery is conducted.  The lottery, a random drawing of birthdays and numbers, establishes the order in which individuals receive orders to report for induction.  The first to receive induction orders are those whose 20th birthday falls during the year of the lottery.  If required, additional lotteries are conducted for those 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 19, and finally 18.5 years-old. Learn more here.

4. Orders to Report to MEPS

Induction notices are sent and registrants may now make claims if desired for a postponement, deferment or exemption. Inductees report to a local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for induction. At MEPS, registrants are given a physical, mental, and moral evaluation to determine whether they are fit for military service. Once notified of the results of the evaluation, a registrant will either be inducted into military service or sent home.

5. Activation of Local and District Appeal Boards

Local and Appeal Boards begin to process registrant claims for classification as conscientious objectors, dependency hardships, ministerial and ministerial student deferments, and appeals.

6. Induction of First Draftees

According to current Department of Defense (DoD) requirements, Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days from the onset of a crisis and the law being updated to authorize a draft.


Men are not classified now. Classification is the process of determining who is available for military service and who is deferred or exempted. Classifications are based on each individual registrant’s circumstances and beliefs. A classification program would go into effect when Congress and the President decide to resume a draft. At that time, men who are qualified for induction would have the opportunity to file a claim for exemptions, deferments, and postponements from military service.

The following is a list of the more commonly used Selective Service classifications from 1948 – 1976. Roman numerals I, II, III, IV, V were sometimes used:

1-A – Available for military service.

1-AM – Medical specialist available for military service.

1-A-O – Conscientious Objector – Conscientiously opposed to training and military service requiring the use of arms – fulfills his service obligation in a noncombatant position within the military. Those classified 1-A-O are conscientious objectors available for noncombatant military service.

1-A-OM – Medical specialist conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service.

1-C – Member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, or the Public Health Service. (Enl) – enlisted; (Ind) – inducted; (Dis) – discharged

1-D – Member of a Reserve component or student taking military training.

1-H – Registrant not currently subject to processing for induction or alternative service.
Note: Within the cessation of registrant processing in 1976, all registrants (except for a few alleged violators of the Military Selective Service Act) were classified 1-H regardless of any previous classification.

1-O – Conscientious objector available for civilian work contributing to the national health, safety or interest.

1-OM – Medical specialist conscientious objector available for civilian work contributing to the national health, safety or interest.

1-S – Student deferred by status – (H) high school; (C) college.

1-W – Conscientious objector performing civilian work in the national health, safety or interest. (Rel) – Released.

1-Y – Registrant qualified for service only in time of war or national emergency.
Note: The 1-Y classification was abolished December 10, 1971. Local boards were subsequently instructed to reclassify all 1-Y registrants by administrative action.

2-A – Registrant deferred because of civilian occupation (except agriculture).

2-AM – Medical specialist deferred because of critical community need involving patient care.

2-C – Registrant deferred because of agricultural occupation.

2-D – Ministerial Students – Deferred from military service.

2-M – Registrant deferred for medical study.

2-S – Registrant deferred because of activity in study.

3-A – Hardship Deferment – Deferred from military service because service would cause hardship upon his family.

4-A – Registrant who has completed service; or sole surviving son.

4-B – Official deferred by law.

4-C – Alien or Dual National – Sometimes exempt from military service.

4-D – Ministers of Religion – Exempted from military service.

4-E – Conscientious objector opposed to both combatant and noncombatant training and service.

4-F – Registrant not qualified for military service.

4-FM – Medical specialist not qualified for military service.

4-G – Sole surviving son – son or brothers in a family where the parent or sibling died as a result of US military service, or is in a captured or M.I.A. status, are exempt from service in peacetime.

4-W – Conscientious objector who has completed civilian alternate service.

5-A – Registrant over the age of liability for military service.

Student Postponements – A college student may have his induction postponed until he finishes the current semester or, if a senior, the end of the academic year. A high school student may have his induction postponed until he graduates or until he reaches age 20.

Appealing a Classification – A man may appeal his classification to a Selective Service Appeal Board.

Postponements, Deferments, Exemptions

Under emergency mobilization procedures, all registrants are considered to be classified 1-A “available for service” unless they are given a different status by Selective Service. If a registrant believes that for some reason he cannot or should not report for examination and induction as directed, he may request a postponement or reclassification by filing a claim and sending it to the Selective Service office in his area. Receipt of such a claim delays the registrant’s induction until his claim has been fully processed and adjudicated.

A registrant can file a claim only after receipt of an order to report for induction and before the day he is scheduled to report. Only in the case of an extreme emergency, under circumstances beyond his control, would a registrant be allowed to file a claim on the day he is scheduled to report for induction.

It will not be necessary for the registrant to submit supporting evidence of his claim at the time he files the request form. He will be contacted and given instructions on what information is needed, where to send it, and when it should be sent.


The following instances are eligible for postponement in the event of a military draft:

  • High school students, until he graduates or reaches age 20, whichever occurs first.
  • College students, until the end of the semester or, if a senior, until the end of that academic year.
  • Automatic delay if he files a claim for reclassification.

He is also entitled to file for a postponement if he has an emergency beyond his control, such as a serious illness or death in his immediate family.





The following instances are eligible for deferments in the event of a military draft:

  • Hardship deferments, for men whose induction would result in hardship to persons who depend upon them for support.
  • Ministerial students, deferred until completion of studies.


The following instances are eligible for exemptions in the event of a military draft:

  • Ministers
  • Certain elected officials, exempt so long as they continue to hold office.
  • Veterans, generally exempt from service in peacetime draft.
  • Immigrants and dual nationals in some cases may be exempt from U.S. military service depending upon their place of residence and country of citizenship. Learn more here.








Medical Draft in Standby Mode

The Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS) is a standby plan developed for the Selective Service System at the request of Congress. If needed it would be used to draft health care personnel in a crisis. It is designed to be implemented in connection with a national mobilization in an emergency, and then only if Congress and the President approve the plan and pass and sign legislation to enact it. No portion of the plan is designed for implementation in peacetime. If implemented, HCPDS would:

  • Provide a fair and equitable draft of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and those with certain other health care skills if, in some future emergency, the military’s existing medical capability proved insufficient and there is a shortage of volunteers.
  • Include women, unless directed otherwise by Congress and the President.
  • Draft a very small percentage of America’s health care providers into military service. Impact on the availability of civilian health care would be minimal. Those health-care workers whose absence would seriously hurt their communities would be deferred on the basis of community need.
  • Begin a mass registration of male and female health care workers between the ages of 20 and 45. They would register at local post offices. HCPDS would provide medical personnel from a pool of 3.4 million doctors, nurses, specialists and allied health professionals in more than 60 fields of medicine.
  • Require minimal training for HCPDS draftees, because they are already skilled personnel.