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Joe Heck-Led Federal Panel Urges Women Register For The Draft

Courtesy National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service

Former Rep. Joe Heck leads a June hearing of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.

A bipartisan federal commission that recommended women register for the draft was headed by former Rep. Joe Heck, who represented Southern Nevada in Congress for six years.

For the last two and a half years, Heck served as chairman of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Its final report was released in late March and, among 164 findings, it called for women to be required to register for Selective Service.

The panel looked at ways to promote a greater culture of service in the country, and Heck said the ultimate goal is that a decade from now 5 million Americans enter some form of service each year.

Still, Heck told State of Nevada, the issue of women registering for the draft sparked the strongest discussion. In the end, he said, requiring women to register boiled down to the nation’s need to maintain an effective military.

“It’s a matter of standards. We know from the research that just as many women are eligible to serve in the military based on current standards as are men,” he said. “If you want to maintain standards you cannot discount half of the population.”

Any change in selective service registration would need to be enacted by Congress.

The former GOP lawmaker also said rollout of the commission’s report had to be moved online because of the coronavirus. Planned congressional hearings on the committee’s recommendations have been postponed.

In the report, the commission writes, “We believe that the current moment requires a collective effort to build upon America’s spirit of service to cultivate a widespread culture of service.”

Heck said that portion was written before the coronavirus pandemic, but the “the timing, perhaps, could not have been better.”

“Many of the recommendations within our report talk about harnessing the collective abilities of the American people, which we have done throughout history to serve in times of need,” he said.

For Heck, that means leading a medical division after being called back to duty in the Army Reserve.


Joe Heck, former Congressman, led commission on public service

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Nikole Robinson Carroll is KNPR's Morning Edition host. You can hear her every morning from 5am until 10am on News 889. She also produces segments for KNPR's State of Nevada.
With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.