20. The all-volunteer military returned to America in the 1970s
Richard Nixon promised to end the draft during the presidential campaign of 1968, the most tempestuous year of the tempestuous 1960s. After winning the election he allowed himself to be convinced that ending the draft would be viewed as a sign of American weakness, and he took no action to keep his promise. In 1973,under the prodding of the Senate, the last national lottery for the draft to date was held. The US military gave itself over to being all-volunteer, a difficult task given the anti-military attitudes prevalent in the country after the humiliation of Vietnam. Since then a draft has not been held, but the Selective Service System remains in place in the United States.
Since July 1980 it has been the law in the United States that men, (both US citizens and immigrant non-citizens) once they reach the age of 18 must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Those ineligible for military service for any reason are not exempt from the requirement. Since 1989 a Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS) has been in place, since health care professionals are the most likely to be drafted in any future conflict, where extensive training on complex systems is required of today’s military. The likelihood of a general draft remains remote, but the US government and military is prepared and retains the authority to exercise one if necessary.
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