World War II Draft
Even before America was involved in World War II, there was a peacetime draft. In 1940, Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act into law. Men aged 24 to 35 were selected by a national lottery, the first of which was in November of that year. In Nebraska, 123 men were selected. But at the same time, there was a manpower shortage to make the goods required by the Allies in Europe and in America. This shortage would lead to women in the workforce, much like the archetypal Rosie the Riveter. But in the meantime, between 1940 and 1943, soldiers were often transferred to civilian status in the Enlisted Reserve Corps to keep up production. These men could be called back to duty at any time.
Drafts were handled by local draft boards, of which Nebraska had 135. They had a quota to fill, and it was up to the local draft board to determine the best way to do it. Fathers were usually not drafted, and farmers were often given occupational deferments. Other skilled workers, such as mechanics and doctors, could get an occupational deferment. About thirty percent of the registrants were not selected for medical reasons. It is possible that your character wasn’t physically able to enter the military, but is still fit enough to play baseball, such as being deaf in one ear. Or it may have been a temporary illness, such as a broken leg. The military would not accept applicants for muscular and bone malformations, hearing or circulatory ailments, mental deficiency or disease, hernias, and syphilis. Most people looked down on the 4-F’ers… so called because of 4-F classification given to the men.
Some draftees became Conscientious Objectors (CO). Of the 34.5 million men that were registered for the draft, about 72,000 applied for CO status. This could be because of religious or moral grounds. World War II was the first time that Congress recognized CO status… in World War I, such men were jailed. A CO had two choices: they could go into the military, but in the medical corps or other non-combat duties, or they were required to do some form of alternative service at home. The alternative service was handled by the Civilian Public Service (CPS) which had minimal support from the federal government. Men became firefighters for national parks, worked in mental hospitals, and became research test subjects.
Draftees were limited to 12 months of service originally, but it was expanded to 18 months of service during the war. They went into the Army or Marines. In 1947, the draft for WWII expired, after more than 10 million men had been drafted.