Director of U.S. Selective Service Lawrence G. Romo says failing to register with his agency is a poor decision. Photo by James V. Carroll

'It's the law'

American Legion members have the unique opportunity to be important frontline purveyors of Selective Service information to young men in their communities - information that may forever affect their lives as well as federal benefits.

"Legionnaires at the local level are familiar with youth in their neighborhoods," Director of U.S. Selective Service Lawrence G. Romo told ANAVICUS members Sunday in a breakfast meeting at the 92nd Annual American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee. "It is federal law that every young man between the ages of 18 and 25 must be registered with Selective Service."

Romo said that failing to register might ultimately lead to a prison sentence or substantial monetary fine. Failing to register may also cause a young man to become ineligible for federal Pell Grants, as well as other federal services and job training.

"Many people believe that since there is no longer a military draft, they do not have to register with Selective Service. They are wrong," Romo said. "And the law makes no distinction between U.S. citizens and undocumented residents. Selective Service does not collect any information that would indicate whether or not you are undocumented. If you are a man ages 18 through 25 and living in the U.S., then you must register with Selective Service. It's the law"

According to law, a man must register with Selective Service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. Selective Service will accept late registrations, but not after a man has reached age 26. Young men can register at any U.S. Post Office and do not need a Social Security number. However if a young man does possess a Social Security number, he may register with the Selective Service online. In addition, 37 states have systems to automatically register a young man with Selective Service when he applies for a driver's license.

In addition to providing information to youth in their communities, Legionnaires may also want to consider joining their local Selective Service Board, Romo said. Local boards are made up of community members who are best equipped to make decisions regarding local youth when it comes to deferments should a draft ever be activated.

Click here for more information about registering with the Selective Service or to apply to become a member of a local board.