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How To Beat The Draft Board/Claim

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Claim #1: Conscientious Objector (1-A-O, 1-O)

There are two conscientious objector categories. 1-A-O means that you refuse to serve in a combat role, but will serve the military in a noncombat role. If you file for this and are approved, expect to be placed in the military. Note that in the modern military, the roles between combat and noncombat roles have been somewhat blurred; even a trucker in Iraq gets shot at, and bases get hit by incoming artillery. 1-O means that you object to all forms of military service. This does not mean that if you are approved that you get to sit around at home all day; rather, you are assigned to twenty-four months of "alternative service". This is designed to be a kind of service that will help the government out as much as possible without violating your moral beliefs. If it does, you can appeal your assignment - hence, as much as they'd like to assign you to a munitions plant, they know it would be a waste of their time because you'd just appeal. The classic example of alternative service from ages past is forestry service.

CO status may well be the hardest status to get. However, there is one advantage: it is permanent.

The key issue for CO status is that you must convince the board of your sincerity. This cannot be overstressed. The board must truly believe that you are sincere in your strong, long-held beliefs. The reason for your belief does not need to be religious, as it used to. Ethical or moral beliefs that are strongly held are also admittable. The registrant must be opposed to all wars. Not just some, not just the current war. All wars. The board officially cannot ask you about hypothetical wars or future situations (that doesn't mean that they won't, though; don't complain if they do). But if they ask you (for example) would you have fought in World War II, the answer must be no (preferably with convincing, sincere elaboration). You can support the right to self-defense, but not at a national level (a person who subscribes to St. Augustine's "just war" doctrine does not qualify for CO status). The cutoff point is the community level. Your behavior must match your stated beliefs.

Length of time counts

Another major issue will be the length of time that you have held these beliefs. If you developed these beliefs recently, you will likely cause serious doubt as to how deepheld your CO beliefs are. At least a year should be a standard, and many years is highly recommended. Documentation of past beliefs is very valuable. Witnesses can be especially valuable in a CO case, as they can attest to knowing about your beliefs for a long period of time. It is in your best interests to bring three witnesses who will sincerely vouch for you.


Because this category is so subjective, your odds are highly dependent on who your board is. If your board hates COs, they may deny your claim even if you make a flawless case. A friendly board (while somewhat rarer, they certainly do exist) may approve even a sloppy CO case. But you might as well give yourself the best odds you can. Don't be stupid. Don't say, for example, that you've studied MLK and Gandhi when you haven't. The board may ask you some basic questions about them, and if you can't answer those, you've been caught lying. Which means that you have no sincerity, which means that your odds of being denied are quite high.


Summary: Having a non-hostile board and coming across as sincere are the most important elements.

How To Beat The Draft Board
General Strategies Claim #1: Conscientious Objector (1-A-O, 1-O) Claim2#2: Hardship (3-A)