Terre Haute resident David Cooley knew it was mandatory that his son
Jacob register with the U.S. Selective Service, especially when
applying for college financial aid.
And the Cooleys thought Jacob had registered at age 16 in 2008 when
he obtained his Indiana driver's license. But, they discovered just
last week, Indiana had not then yet implemented draft registration at
A law to make Selective Service registration optional when obtaining
a driver's license in Indiana was signed on April 25, 2007, but was
not to be effective until June 25, 2009. It did not become fully
operational until Sept. 24, 2009, said Pat Schuback, spokesman for
the Selective Service at its Washington, D.C., office.
"We were furious when we found out he was not registered. We
certainly wanted to comply with the law," David Cooley said. "I
didn't particularly agree with what was going on in Vietnam … but
when I was 18, I went down and did my duty by registering."
After finding his son was not registered, David Cooley instead went
online and did so, allowing the family to complete a Free Application
for Federal Student Aid application for college financial aid.
While there has not been a military draft enacted since 1973, it is
law that all male U.S. citizens and immigrant men living in the
United States, age 18 to 25, register with the Selective Service.
By law, males are to register within 30 days of turning 18. If not
registered, federal assistance for college can be withheld and
employment with any federal government agency denied. Fines and
incarceration also can be imposed.
BMW spokesman Graig Lubsen said the agency now asks a question
regarding Selective Service of all males between age 15 and 25
seeking a new license or license renewal.
"We have a question that pops up on our system for our [BMV]
associate to ask. The question is, 'Do you authorize the BMV to
submit the necessary information to the Selective Service System to
register you in compliance with federal law?'" Lubsen said.
Regardless of the answer, a form acknowledging that the question was
asked is printed and "they [person seeking a license] have to sign
that," Lubsen said.
Indiana in 2008 had 79 percent of men born in 1989 registered with
Selective Service. That percentage increased to 90 percent in 2009.
Schuback said there was no special media campaign that increased that
number and Indiana's driver license law had been active less than
four months in 2009.
"It could be something that is in the national news that makes people
more aware of this. In 2006, Indiana was at 88 percent [registered
with Selective Service]. In 2007, it was 85 percent," Schuback said.
"That's why it is so beneficial when states' BMVs link with Selective
Service, as it drives up registration rates," he said.
As of Nov. 5, 2010, 37 states, three U.S. territories and the
District of Columbia had enacted laws for Selective Service
registration when obtaining a driver's license. Some states,
including Colorado and Arizona, make registration mandatory, while
others, such as Indiana, make it optional when obtaining a driver's license.
Schuback said not signing up with the Selective Service is punishable
by law with up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
"However, the U.S. Department of Justice is not enforcing that [as
there is no draft], but it is linked to federal and state" financial
assistance programs, plus federal jobs and job training assistance
programs, he said.
The Selective Service has representatives in schools nationwide to
remind students to register, Schuback said, plus the agency sends out
reminder cards twice a year "in national mailings."
There were 16.3 million of the 17.8 million U.S. males aged 15 to 25
registered with the Selective Service as of 2009, Schuback said.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or