Military Law | Selective service

Military Law What does military law have to do with me?

I’m not interested in joining the military! If you are a male, you must register for selective service between the ages of 18 and 25 years old. There are very few exceptions to this general rule.

What if I don’t do register?

You could end up incarcerated, fined, or both, for violation of a Federal statute.

I have health problems. Do I still have to register?

Yes. Males must still register with the Selective Service, even if your disability would ultimately keep you from serving.

I’m a contentious objector. Do I still have to register?

Yes, if you’re a male.

When I register, does that mean I will have to enter the military?

No. There is currently no draft in America. The Selective Service still requires males between 18-25 to register, however, just in case a draft is needed in the future.

How do I register?

The best, quickest way is online. Go to for easy registration.

I’m a female. Can I join the military?

Yes. You don’t have to register for selective service, but you can still join the military. Also, certain combat arms jobs used to be open to males only; now, they are open to women. Talk to your local recruiter and find out how to sign up.

How old do I have to be to join the military?

You can enlist at 18, or at 17 with parental consent.

What are the benefits of joining the military?

The military can be a great start. Whether you stay in for many years after your initial enlistment contract, or decide to get out, the military can bring you adventure, teach you a marketable skill, and help pay for college. You can join full time (active duty) or part time (reserves). Also, keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of the military is to protect our freedoms and our way of life. The military is therefore not for everyone.

What is the difference between active duty and reserves?

If you’re on active duty, you earn full-time salary, plus benefits. If you’re in the reserves, you typically report to drill (otherwise known as “battle assembly”) one weekend a month, and do two weeks of annual training per year. Keep in mind that reservists can be voluntarily or involuntarily activated.

What if I join the military, and I don’t like basic training or my follow on assignment? Can I get out of my enlistment contract?

Generally, no. With very few exceptions (medical issues, disciplinary issues, etc.), once you’re in, you’re in until your contract is up.

Will I have to go overseas and fight in a war?

Possibly. The money, adventure, educational benefits, etc. are great, but ultimately, the whole reason for joining the military is to defend America, as directed by our civilian leadership. Whether you are on active duty or in the reserves, there is a very real possibility you could take up arms in defense of the nation. The decision to join the military is an important one.

What if somebody gives me an order I don’t want to follow?

You can receive judicial or non-judicial punishment under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice if you don’t follow an otherwise lawful order from a superior. There are also various administrative penalties as well.

I want to eventually become an officer. How do I do that?

There are several paths to becoming an officer: Officer Candidate School, ROTC, or Direct Commission for certain professions (doctors, lawyers, etc.). In general, you must get a bachelor’s degree first, before you can compete to become an officer.


What is Selective Service?

The purpose of the Selective Service is to ensure that the Government keeps a list of names upon which to call in case of a national emergency requiring rapid expansion of the armed services.

Who must register for Selective Services?

When you turn 18, if you are a male, you must register for Selective Services. Selective Services requires that all males between 18 and 25 are registered.

What are the consequences of not registering?

There are some serious consequences to not registering. There are criminal penalties, it can affect financial aid, and other things like job training opportunities and eligibility for federal jobs.

How do I find out more about Selective Service?

The Selective Service System has a list of frequently asked questions here.

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