Why registering with Selective Service System matters

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By Kate Kerns
Special to The SUN

With the rising cost of college and a daunting job market, it’s easy to worry about what will happen to the young people in our community as they enter adulthood. For young men, there’s one easy way to improve their chances in life: register with the Selective Service System.

Since 1980, every young man living in the U.S. has been required to register with Selective Service when he turns 18 or when he becomes a resident of this country. If a young man doesn’t register, he loses his eligibility for widely used government programs.

“If a young man doesn’t register, he stops being eligible for student loans, federal jobs and job training programs,” said Richard Flahavan, spokesperson for the Selective Service System. “We don’t want that to happen, which is why we’re committed to letting young men know about their legal responsibility and the opportunities that come with it.”

In most states, including Colorado, a man who hasn’t registered can even be prevented from holding a driver’s license.

There is no penalty for late registration, but once a man reaches his 26th birthday, he cannot register and can become permanently barred from the opportunities associated with registration.

So, why don’t more people register?

Research shows that the main reason men fail to register with Selective Service is a simple lack of awareness. This can be particularly true in communities where trust in the government is low or in communities where cultural or language differences can make communication more challenging.

In Colorado, more than three out of 10 young men fail to register when they turn 18. That means more than three out of 10 young men are losing their shot at important opportunities.

Making sure young men know they have to register is a fast and effective way to change the future for the young men in your community. Each year, the Selective Service System meets with dozens of local and national organizations that work with underserved communities. From these meetings, the Selective Service System has developed a wide array of materials in numerous languages. They can be found at www.SSSresources.us.

Young men can register online at sss.gov, at the post office or by filling out the reminder registration card the Selective Service mails to young men when they turn 18.

“Young men improve their access to opportunities the instant they register,” said Flahavan. “That’s something every American man deserves to know.”

For additional information, visit www.sss.gov.