Up until a few weeks ago, any time I decided to waste hours on TikTok, I would find at least 10 videos about WWIII memes and the draft in general. These jokes were in response to the killing of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani, and tensions that followed. These jokes are typically pretty funny, but it also forces me to consider many things if a draft was to be implemented.
The draft was last used in 1972. If you consider the social change that has happened since, you would realize that the draft will most likely never be used again. The last attempt to draft soldiers was a disaster as it forced young men to fight for a cause they didn’t believe in and left them forgotten and traumatized. On top of that, we now have drastically different societal views on gender and sexuality, which would greatly complicate any attempt to roll out a draft.
For starters, compulsory service for any LGBTQ+ people in the military would seem to provide multiple problems. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which allowed gay people into the army as long as they didn’t say they were gay and no one asked, was only repealed in 2010. In 2019, President Trump tried to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Currently, the military does not seem to be a historically accepting organization of LGBTQ+ people. Any future draft would first have to come to terms and deal with the military’s history of discrimination against its LGBTQ+ members.
Similarly, what would happen to women if the draft were to begin again? Women are currently not required to register for the draft at 18 as opposed to men. In the military, 55% of women have reported sexual harassment while in service, and 23% of women reported being sexually assaulted while in the service. If a draft were ever to happen currently, not only would the government have to consider including women in it, but they would also have to seriously reconsider how women are treated in the military and make it a safer space for them to serve if they’re going to require them to do so.
The draft has rarely worked out positively in America. 15% of Vietnam veterans are still suffering the effects of their service in the forms of PTSD and other disabilities, 40 years after the fact. Similarly, those drafted in the Vietnam War had a large sense of identity associated with their being drafted due to the fact that the draft picks men at young ages. All of this for a war they didn’t sign up to fight. If the draft were to become a reality, there would then need to be a push for the government to consider the resources that it provides after the war, especially concerning mental health.
The military has historically not been welcoming to marginalized groups and seems to have many issues with providing proper resources to those who have served in the past. If there was a necessity for the draft to come up again, there would need to be a serious reevaluation of the army’s history, current policy, and resources outside of service before it begins to think about such a move.