What Happens If You Dodge the Army Draft?


It’s a cold December night in 1957 and a
young man receives a military draft notice calling him to serve in the United States
Army. At 22 years old he has a promising future
ahead of him, and at such a young age he is already successful, but he knows that his
career will have to be put to the side as this draft notice is not a request to serve,
but an order. It may be hard to imagine, but this young
man was none other than Elvis Presley who served in the U.S. Army for nearly three years
before being honorably discharged and continuing one of the most famous music careers in history. But what would have happened if Elvis stood
up to the U.S. Army in 1957 and threw away his draft notice to continue his music career? What if you received a draft notice today
and didn’t answer the call to duty? In this episode of the Infographics Show we
explore the question, “what happens if you dodge the draft?” Let’s travel back to the 1950s when the
draft was still being implemented, and millions of men like the King of Rock were subject
to being called up. Following a few short years of peace after
the end of World War II, the U.S. found itself embroiled in another international conflict
commonly referred to as the Korean War. While a passive military draft was in effect,
the United States government was on edge as international threats felt closer to home
thanks to nuclear weapons. This is one reason why the United States government
felt it necessary to ramp up their efforts in increasing the size of the military. It is no surprise then that Congress passed
the Universal Military Training and Service Act in 1951 which required all men aged 18
to 26 to register for the draft. For men that didn’t even want to serve in
the military in the first place, being pulled away against their will was incredibly terrifying! Can you imagine leaving home and halting your
life at the demand of the U.S. government? Even someone as famous as Elvis Presley, despite
passionate protests from his fans, could not escape this requirement. As a result, according to the U.S. Justice
Department, over 80,000 men attempted to dodge the draft from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean
War, but it wasn’t until the Vietnam War in the 60’s that dodging the draft became
well documented and increasingly punished. According to global researchers, over 570,000
men were classified as “draft offenders” by the U.S. Justice Department during the
1960s when the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular. To put that number into perspective, that’s
basically the entire population of Wyoming! It’s important to keep in mind though that
of those 570,000 men, only 210,000 were formally accused of “dodging the draft” and of
those 210,000, only 3,250 men were jailed. That means that less than 2% of accused “draft
dodgers” were significantly punished according to these statistics. That seems like an awfully low percentage
when you consider that “dodging the draft” is classified as a felony crime. In fact, you have better odds of being asked
to “come on down!” on the Price is Right. So why does it seem like the consequences
of “dodging the draft” are so low? It turns out that there are many creative
ways to “dodge the draft” and avoid doing the time for the crime. According to researchers, some of those men
drafted to serve the U.S. military in the Vietnam War avoided service through a number
of outrageous, but perfectly legal means including emigrating to Canada, purposefully failing
their physicals, and even becoming missionaries. In fact, in what was possibly a regrettable
interview for the Free Press, American singer, Ted Nugent, allegedly admitted that he stopped
all personal hygiene and made sure to urinate and defecate on himself before his physical
just to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. Can you imagine being the physician that had
to examine him?! Perhaps unsurprisingly, his stunt allegedly
worked! According to Nugent in this interview, he
was successfully able to defer his service. While he probably made a physician second-guess
their career choices, perhaps it was for the best that Nugent did not serve in the Vietnam
War as he is reported to have said, “The men who went should be applauded, but if I
would have gone over there, I’d have been killed, or I’d have killed all the hippies
in the foxholes…I would have killed everybody.” It is worth noting that the facts behind this
story are extremely controversial, but if true, this would definitely make for one of
the most interesting draft dodging stories in U.S. history! Like Ted Nugent’s story, we will never truly
know the full extent to which men “dodged the draft,” but needless to say, men were
highly motivated to do just about anything to avoid serving in the military or serving
time in jail. Flash forward to present day, some may be
surprised to know that while a draft does not exist in the United States today, young
men are still required to register as if one existed or could exist in the future. Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are still
required to register into what is called the Selective Service System which is essentially
a backup plan in case a draft needs to take place, and not registering can have some pretty
big consequences including lack of access to federal loans, not being able to apply
for government jobs, and in some states – they even forbid you from getting a driver’s
license! The reality today is that dodging the draft
is not the issue, but dodging the registration for the draft is, and it’s a harsh reality
that many young men are living with. One young man in particular, Danieldevel Davis,
found himself in a situation where he did not register for the Selective Service between
the ages of 18 and 25. He was in various foster homes and prisons
when he was younger and didn’t even know that he had to register for the Selective
Service until he came face-to-face with an opportunity to turn his life around. Tragically, when he finally had the opportunity
to go to college, he found out that he was unable to because he could not apply for a
federal student loan due to his lack of registration into the Selective Service. He said quote, “as far as the Selective
Service goes, I don’t feel as though I should be punished. I am someone trying to rehabilitate myself
and go to school.” Davis is currently trying to build a legal
case, but it’s quite clear that not registering for the Selective Service has already taken
a toll on his life. We imagine that some of our fans may be double
checking their Selective Service registrations right now. Beyond punishing young men for not registering
into a military draft system that does not actively exist, there is significant controversy
surrounding if women should have to register into the Selective Service System. As recent as February 2019, a federal judge
ruled that banning women from Selective Service registration is unconstitutional. This is not a new thought though as even President
Eisenhower was quoted in 1948 on the issue of women being drafted saying, “I am convinced
that in another war they have got to be drafted just like men. I am convinced of that.” Will we see young women have to register for
the Selective Service just like men in our lifetime? Or could involuntary military service be abandoned
altogether because of the negative impact it has on people like Danieldevel Davis? These are questions that may have to be answered
soon as global politics seemingly become more tense. Let us know in the comments what you think
about the draft! What would you do to “dodge the draft?” Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

Comments 100

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *