Registering your son with autism for selective service may feel a bit surreal to do on his 18th birthday. After all, you may be looking at a lifetime of care for your child. He may be non verbal or pretty severe in terms of his autism level. You know there is no way he could ever serve in the military should a draft occur so you wonder if this step is necessary. Indeed it is if you want to get any sort of government assistance like SSI or Medicaid for your child. Let’s walk through this step by step to alleviate your fears.
What Is Selective Service?
According to the Selective Service website :
“With very few exceptions, all males between ages 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service System (SSS) within 30 days of arriving in the United States. This includes U.S. born and naturalized citizens, parolees, undocumented immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, and all males with visas of any kind which expired more than 30 days ago. The few individuals who are exempt from this requirement are those on current non-immigrant visas.”
By making every man age 18 – 26 register for the draft, it makes it fair and equitable to everyone. What is does not do is sign your child up for the military or give his name to military recruiters. It is simply put in the system for use in the unlikely event of a draft. For the record, there has not been a draft in the United States since 1973 when all the armed forces went to an all volunteer enlistment.
What about my son with autism?
The Selective Service website is very clear on this matter. Under the heading “Men With Disabilities“. it states :
“Men who have a disability and who live at home must register with Selective Service if they can reasonably leave their homes and move about independently. A friend or relative may help a disabled man fill out the registration form if he can’t do it himself.
These men with disabilities that would disqualify them from military service still must register with Selective Service. Selective Service does not presently have authority to classify men, so even men with obvious handicaps must register, and if needed, classifications would be determined later.”
If your son with autism isn’t bed bound then he is required to register plain and simple. Selective Service isn’t the draft but a way to implement a draft should one be needed. There is no system in place with Selective Service for them to classify who needs to register and who doesn’t. Your son may be called in the unlikely event of a draft but would still need to pass a military physical as well as mental tests. Men with autism , even high functioning or level one men, are not going to be able to pass the cognitive tests. You can also file exemptions at that time showing your child has autism therefore making him ineligible to serve in the armed forces. None of these scenarios can happen before your son is called into the draft.
What happens if I don’t register my son with autism for Selective Service?
This answer is pretty clear as well as severe. Your son gets until age 26 to register. After that the door is closed, so to speak, making your son ineligible for
- financial aid from colleges
- Workforce assistance
- SSI as well as most government programs
- If your child is not already a US citizen , not registering before age 26 will take that option away permanently.
If that wasn’t enough to make you want to register him, finding out that it’s a felony punishable by up to a $250,000 fine in addition to up to 5 years in prison.
How do I register my son for Selective Service?
- Any US post office will have the forms necessary to register
- Register online
- Some states automatically register if an identification card has been issued
Need to verify if your son is registered?
Visit this verification page to verify or update the registration for your son. You can also print an official letter of verification which you will need for the federal benefits mentioned above.
In the grand scheme of things, registering for Selective Service will not affect your child in any way. IF a draft should occur (that’s a big IF by the way), there are protocols in place to keep people with disabilities from serving in the military. Not registering will have far more repercussions than registering. We lived in one of the states who automatically registered Logan when he turned 18 because he had an identification card. After careful research , I am not concerned that he would be enlisted. Do what is required to keep your son eligible for programs he may need in the future.