The Gears Grind Slow

During the lead up to the Iraq war, one of the proposals that was briefly in the air was to reinstate the draft. I was 19 years old at the time, prone to expressing my views via images posted to Delphi message boards. An artifact capturing my feelings from the era:
Of course, the draft didn’t get reinstated. We managed to wage two simultaneous wars by extending service commitments over and over and over instead. But things did get far enough that the Selective Service system set up a website soliciting volunteers to serve on regional draft boards. I submitted my name, on the theory that a bureaucracy was unlikely to cannibalize itself by sending its administrators overseas. I never head back.

Until now. Today, fully a decade later, I received this.

Mr. Fischer,

It has been a while since your Selective Service System internet inquiry; however, please let me know if you are still interested in being appointed as a potential board member.

I’ve attached the board member information booklet and application for your convenience.

[contact info for a Major in the armed forces]

There’s a temptation to wonder why, exactly, the Selective Service system is revisiting those ancient applications now. But, no longer being prime draft age and having no children, I’m content to believe that this is simply the actual pace of data processing behind the scenes of government. As it’s mildly amazing that I still have access to my email account from ten years ago, I wonder how many of these appeals are falling in the empty forests of abandoned AOL and MSN accounts.

UPDATE: I went ahead and called the guy just to chat with him and ask what led him to get in touch with me now. He said he’s only recently started on the job and doesn’t think the internet inquiries were ever actually processed until now. But he’s trying to fill a lot of vacancies in the Southwest region (“The people currently on the boards are generally elderly”), and figured taking a few days to try and get in touch with people who had once expressed interest was better than shooting in the dark. He did confirm that a large number of the email addresses aren’t good anymore. “When I see an address, I’m not real confident.” He was also good-humored about my telling him that I only ever inquired in the first place as a way of avoiding the draft.


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  1. Don’t think so. Given my general views on conscription, it would seem ethically questionable on levels of both complicity with something I oppose and joining an organization under false pretenses. It only ever seemed like a good idea to me as an alternative to dodging bullets or being locked up.

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