Failure to sign
Just 60 percent of men turning 18 in Hawaii register, as required, for Selective Service
Last year, Hawaii trailed most of the country with only 60 percent of young men registering with the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday.
J. Patrick Schubank, Selective Service System spokesman, said Hawaii ranked 36th with Florida and Delaware leading the country with 99 percent compliance. New York was at the bottom with a 44 percent compliance rate.
Failing to register is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although there has not been a prosecution in the past 19 years.
Federal law requires every male citizen between 18 and 25 register with the Selective Service System. Also, contrary to popular belief, "only sons," "the last son to carry the family name," and "sole surviving sons" also must register and can be drafted. However, they might be entitled to a deferment if there is a military death in the immediate family.
Men who fail to register for the draft can be permanently barred from:
» Federal student loans.
» Federal job training assistance.
» Federal, state and county jobs.
» U.S. citizenship.
"A young man who is a permanent resident alien, but fails to register before he turns 26, will never be allowed to apply for citizenship in the United States," said William Chatfield, director of the Selective Service System for the past four years.
College students who aren't registered for the draft cannot qualify for federal student loans or grant programs, he added.
Chatfield, a retired Marine Corps intelligence officer with 35 years of service, said one of the reasons for the low compliance rate could be that many of Hawaii's young men leave the islands after high school for college or other reasons.
But by the time they turn 26, 90 percent of the eligible Hawaii men between the ages of 18-25 comply with the federal law. The national average for all ages is 91 percent.
Chatfield said that could be attributed to a state law that automatically places Hawaii men between the ages of 18 to 25 in the Selective Service data bank when they apply for a learner's permit or driver's license. That law took affect in 2002.
Refusing to be put in the data bank means no permit or driver's license.
Chatfield was in the islands recently to address a meeting of Naval Reserve Officers and meet with his unpaid staff of volunteers who will have to administer the program if Congress ever reinstates the draft.
With his term expiring in January when President Bush leaves office, Chatfield is trying to education young men just turning 18 of their obligation to register with the Selective Service.
"This can be done by being going online or going to their local post office and picking up a registration form," he added.
There also will be a renewed effort to get his staff to talk with counselors in the islands 84 high schools who can also help with the registration process, Chatfield said.
The Selective Service encourages "young men to register and not to break the law," Chatfield said, "and in doing so lose benefits."