A national group called Mothers Against the Draft (MAD), headed by a Sparks woman, has been formed to organize against any effort to revive conscription.

“Those who choose to serve in the military have our respect,” said Janine Hansen of Sparks, “but we worry when we hear that our precious young sons and daughters may be forced to fight for others in foreign lands. In the ‘land of the free and home of the brave,’ those who are drafted and forced to fight are not free.”

Hansen’s stance is something of a surprise, since she has been a reliable supporter of the military and backed U.S. involvement in Vietnam. She has previously been active in campaigns against the Equal Rights Amendment and gay marriage.

But she said she considers forced service incompatible with liberty, a point also made by national conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly of Illinois, who endorsed Hansen’s group: “If America wants to remain a free nation, we must reject all proposals for a military draft. Liberty cannot coexist with involuntary servitude.”

During the presidential campaign, Democrat John Kerry suggested that his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, would revive the draft if he was reelected. Bush denied it, and Congress—in an effort to quell concern about a draft—voted in mid-October to kill a measure that would have brought back the draft. The legislation was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat.

Hansen said she’s less concerned about Bush than about Congress.

“I’m not really worried about George Bush right now,” she said. “… I think if we look at the commitments that the government has made, we can see that the military is really straining now.”

She called her group’s formation a “preemptive strike” to get out in front of the issue before federal officials can advance it. She said people need to know how far along revival of the draft is already.

On Sept. 23, 2003, the Defense Department Web site posted a notice reading, “If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines.” Little has been heard of the proposal since then.

“We will be doing something every couple of weeks to alert people to the fact that this is happening,” Hansen said.

She also said the group is not yet ready to address the issue of whether the United States is spread too thin around the world and should reduce its involvement in some areas, though it may take a position later.

The group has a Web page at www.mothersagainstthedraft.org.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...