We Need to Reinstate the Draft
No, I’m not kidding. It’s time to step away from our volunteer military.
The first thing I need to make clear is that I have never served in the armed forces. My husband hasn’t served, nor have any of our three children. None of my siblings have served in the military, either.
So I really have “no skin in the game” as they say.
And that is why I so firmly believe that we need a draft system where every young American, of every gender, must serve.
I don’t say this because I love the idea of war or want more American lives on the line. On the contrary.
I say this because we have a system in place now where only volunteers need to fight in defense of whatever it is that the government wants them to defend. I say it because the men and women who are fighting our wars are not representative of the country as a whole.
The Council on Foreign Relations reports that only 0.4 percent of the population is currently on active duty.
Additionally, the report states that the majority of those who serve in all branches of the military come from the middle class. The lower economic class is poorly represented, perhaps because that population experiences greater incidences of mental illness, drug use, and other issues that preclude service.
Or maybe it’s because so many of them are in jail. For whatever reason, the poor are not taking advantage of the opportunities for education and a career that the military offers.
Even more concerning to me is the fact that very few of those who serve come from the upper-income brackets of the United States.
The working-class kids are going to war; the rich kids aren’t.
This makes it way too easy for people in power to send our soldiers off to war. They are watching other people’s children die while their own are safe.
Equally importantly, people like me can just turn the channel when the news gets too scary or too depressing. My children are not at risk; if I chose to, I could simply ignore the fact that this country has been at war for decades.
I believe that we need to go back to the draft.
The very idea of doing that scares the absolute crap out of me; my sons are still in their twenties and are healthy. I have grandchildren now.
The idea of sending any of them off with weapons in their hands terrifies me.
And it should.
I have cousins who have served honorably for years. I have one young cousin who is an active duty Marine. I worry about them, and fret for them and want them to stay safe. I’ve had good friends whose children have been out there on the front lines. I’ve prayed for them and sent them packages and worried about where they were.
But that isn’t enough.
Every American family should share equally in the burdens of war.
If we did, then I believe our government would be far more careful before dropping bombs from drones, assassinating foreign leaders or sending troops to distant parts of the world to protect the flow of oil.