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You're In at 18 And Out Before 26 -- Guess What?

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 1998 – Men on active duty or attending a service academy may not realize it, but they have to register for the draft if they leave active duty before turning age 26, according to Selective Service officials.

The nudge comes with the recent announcement of the Selective Service's Web site, www.sss.gov. Registering for the draft, officials said, is now just a computer mouse click away on the Internet.

Draft registration is coupled to many federal and state benefits. For instance, men must register to qualify for federal student loans or Pell grants and federal job training programs. Unregistered veterans under 26 applying for these benefits will end up waiting for verification checks and paperwork processing.

"We tell [service members] to just sign up," said Barbi Richardson, a Selective Service spokesperson. It's simpler and faster for everyone, she said.

By federal law, all men living in the United States or who are U.S. citizens living overseas -- including those in the reserve components -- must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days following their 18th birthday. They also must register if they become subject to the draft at any time before age 26 -- for instance, if they leave active duty or immigrate.

About 1.9 million men register for the draft each year. Women are not required to register for the draft.

Failure to register is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, five years in jail or both.

U.S. post offices have registration forms for those without Internet access. Service members overseas can obtain materials from their personnel centers or American embassies. If you have questions call toll-free 1-888 655- 1825 or visit the Web page.

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