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Statement on Establishing Nationwide Youth Advisory Committees to the Selective Service System.

June 06, 1969

IT REMAINS my firm conviction that the military draft should be abolished and the Armed Services of the United States manned entirely by volunteers. Unfortunately, it is not possible to effect this change under present international circumstances.

Until the time when a volunteer armed force can become a reality, we must exert every effort to make the Selective Service System as fair and equitable as possible. Toward this end, I recently sent to the Congress a message on draft reform proposing legislation which would reduce the period of uncertainty that young men face in connection with the draft from 7 years to 1 and would establish a fairer, random selection.

Today, I am pleased to announce another step in our effort to improve the Selective Service System.

For some time now the System has used advisory panels for many purposes. On the local level it has medical advisers, advisers for registrants, and appeal agents. On the national and State level there are some advisory groups that help in selecting physicians and dentists, and others that advise on manpower needs and occupational deferments. But one thing we have not had in the past is an advisory group made up of young people. This administration believes that this deficiency should be corrected. We believe that those who administer our draft laws should systematically seek advice from young people about young people.

We are therefore establishing a nationwide system of Youth Advisory Committees to the Selective Service System.

The young people with whom I am meeting today represent those who have participated in the experimental phase of this new program. In a sense, they have been the test pilots for this new project. It is because of their success that we are now expanding this arrangement from five States to 50 States, with separate programs in the District of Columbia, New York City, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, and Guam as well. Each of the new committees will work through a State director of the Selective Service System, contributing their views and recommendations on the way in which the Selective Service System conducts its operations.

Established institutions of all varieties are under attack today--especially from young people--for being distant and unresponsive. The Selective Service System has been a major target for such criticism, for it is particularly important in the lives of young people and yet often seems to be particularly remote from their influence. It is my hope that a system of Youth Advisory Committees will result in a better informed and more responsive draft mechanism. And I hope, too, that it will answer questions and dispel illusions about the conscription process which are now held by many of our younger citizens.

It is the essence of democratic government that those who are most directly affected by a decision of the government should have their views represented in the process by which that decision is made. The Youth Advisory Committee program will not give young people control over the decisions of the Selective Service System, but it will give them a channel for communication and for influence. It will provide a way in which young people can help to shape government policies in which they have a very special stake.

Note: Along with the President's statement, the White House released an announcement of the establishment of the nationwide system. The text is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, P. 807).

The White House also released the text of a news briefing by members of the five pilot Youth Advisory Committees to the Selective Service System.

The President's statement was released at San Clemente, Calif.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Establishing Nationwide Youth Advisory Committees to the Selective Service System. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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