The Draft Should No Longer Exist, here’s why.


Photo provided by: JOELL

ROTC cadets, Brian Garay, Dylan Hutton and Stephen Mackenzie are seen practicing commends on the field during a drill practice on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Aurora Jimenez Castro, Entertainment Editor

In 1955, the Eisenhower administration officially declared war on Vietnam. For nearly 20 years after, over 300,000 young men were drafted to serve and were mailed a letter determining their fate, whether they wanted it or not. Those who served with grit and honor, unaware they would later succumb to PTSD, permanent injury and Agent Orange related illness. A young man in Puerto Rico was one of these men called to action. He continues to be proud of his service and is the most patriotic American I know, but I see the gloss over his eyes. It has been over 45 years, but he still cannot hike through a forest, lay near mangrove trees or enjoy a cold day near the ocean. History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. 

I have never known a United States not at war, but I have also never lived through the use of the draft. The war in Afghanistan started in October of 2001, in an era of extreme income inequality right before one of the worst recessions in history. Nineteen years later, the war in Afghanistan still rages on, and a war with Iran is a looming possibility, but a draft remains unnecessary. Not due to overwhelming support for the war or a mass sense of patriotism but because a dire lack of government assistance means the U.S. Armed Forces has become an economic safety net.

The United States is the only major developed country to not have a universal healthcare system, making GoFundMe, a company that amassed over $650 million in donations last year, more reliable than any lackluster government program or exploitative insurance plan. Pile massive amounts of medical debt alongside the 44 million Americans facing student loan debt amassing over $1.5 trillion and simply living in the United States a struggle. The middle class is no longer a safe socio-economic stronghold. The United States Armed forces has become the most reliable source for necessary economic assistance. The GI Bill, VA Health services and job programs, all welfare initiatives that the US refuses to put into place for everyone, making the military alluring for many. Poverty, class divisions and extreme debt have become the new draft.

No taxation without representation is a motto that literally helped found the United States, but that same government who fought for that policy drafted and aims to recruit hundreds of thousands who are not fairly represented in government or policy. The commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a hotbed for high school army recruiters, the island has a 45 percent poverty rate, and a fatal lack of monetary assistance from the US Federal Government. The same country that refuses to give the island a voting member of Congress, who cuts food stamps and welfare for over 670,000 inhabitants is expecting young Puerto Rican citizens to fight for them. If the United States refuses to tax without representation they should keep the same sentiment with the draft. No fighting for foreign interests and leaving everything you love behind without representation- not as catchy, I know.

Talk of the draft has made the rounds again, incompetent foreign policy in Iran has put the United States at the brink of another endless war. Forty years ago that young Puerto Rican man was shipped to war, he is proud of his service but that is the point, he still would have served even if not drafted. As long as extreme poverty and income inequality still exists in the richest country on Earth, the draft remains unnecessary. Free college, steady healthcare for your whole family and support from veteran organizations seems like a fair trade off for potential death when you have none of those things. The draft is cruel and unnecessary at best, fatal at worst.