Draftees Get Moratorium On All Debts (10-18-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 18, 1940)

Leniency Approved —

Conscripts Won’t Have to Pay Until They Conclude Their Service

By John A. Reichmann, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Oct. 18 –

President Roosevelt today signed legislation which, in effect, will give Army trainees under the Selective Service Act a moratorium on the payment of debts and other obligations.

The measure specifically provides that the courts may suspend the operation of contracts, leases and other civil obligations of draftees who are unable to continue payments out of their $30-a-month service pay. Its principal provisions:

Rent, installment contracts, mortgages – eviction from dwellings rented by conscripts will not be permitted where the rent is $80 or less a month. Installment-purchased goods may not be repossessed during the period of military service unless the draftee agrees to such action. Mortgages may not be foreclosed while the draftee is in service.

Insurance Protected

Life insurance – policies up to $5,000 will be kept in force by the Veterans’ Administration during the draftee’s term of service. In return, the United States would hold aliens against the policies until the draftee repays the Veterans’ Administration.

Taxes – When a draftee can prove his inability to pay taxes, no tax sales of his property could be held until after he has completed his service. In cases where the property is sold by local authorities for non-payment of taxes, the draftee could reclaim it not less than six months after re-entering civil life.

Autos and tractors – Placed in a special category. Cars and tractors could not be repossessed if the draftee has paid more than 50% of total contract price.

Must Pay Up Later

In all cases, the draftees would be required to pay up accumulated debts after the termination of service.

Mr. Roosevelt signed the bill, which supplements the general relief provisions of the conscription act, shortly after draft officials said that the first contingent of 30,000 trainees – an average of less than five per local draft board – wanted by the Army on November 18 probably will be obtained from volunteers.

The officials also were sure if meeting the Army’s demand for 800,000 men by conscription well in advance of the War Department’s schedule. Present planes call for that many one-year conscripts to be inducted into the Army by June 15, 1941.

Registration returns from states swelled the probably number of registrants for the draft well over 17 million – nearly a million more than pre-registration estimates.

Leniency Ordered

Dr. Clarence A. Dykstra, director of the draft, inaugurated his regime a few hours after being sworn into office by announcing a policy of leniency foe persons who failed to register Wednesday. He directed all state headquarters to register such persons, if they present themselves before the national lottery, and not to consider them delinquents. The law provides a penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for willful failure to register. The lottery date has not been set but probably will be between October 26 and November 2.

A new schedule for induction on conscripts into the Army was announced by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, a lifelong Republican, after he had criticized Republican presidential candidate Wendell L. Willkie who, he said, had been “misled into making statements about delays in the progress of housing the men.”

He said that far from being a “ghost program,” as Mr. Willkie charged, the housing program was ahead of schedule. When questioned about the plan to call only 150,000 men by the first of the year instead of 400,000, as previously planned, Mr. Stimson replied “exigencies of army training,” insisting that it was not due to a lack of housing.

Observers Dissent

In a printed statement designed to answer criticism of the housing program, Mr. Stimson said that the slowness “came from the simple fact that the people of the United States were not ready through their Congress (last summer) to take the steps necessary to give this authority or to provide this money.” The long debate in Congress over conscription he had, was evidence of the truth of this statement.

Some observers, however, regarded the new induction schedule as indication of the Army’s inability to provide adequate winter quarters, since more men, half of those to be called, will be inducted after the severe winter months.

Induction rates have been revised twice since the conscription law was introduced in Congress. Last summer, it was planned to call 800,000 men by the end of this year. By early fall, the schedule was revised to call 400,000 men by the end of February and another 400,000 in April. Now one date for the last of the 800,000 has been set back to June 15.

The schedule announced by Mr. Stimson is as follows:

  • November 18 – 30,000 men,
  • December 2 – 60,000,
  • January 3 – 60,000,
  • January 15 – 90,000,
  • February 10 – 160,000,
  • March 5 – 200,000,
  • June 15 – 200,000.

To Call More Guards

In addition, 130,000 National Guardsmen will be mobilized between January 3 and February 3, 1941.

Asked of any further plans had been made, Mr. Stimson replied:

Only God and Hitler know that will happen to the United States by then.

Conservative estimates of draft officials indicate that no compulsory inductions will be needed until January. They expect about 200,000 volunteers, and some expect as many as 500,000. The law allows acceptance of volunteers as young as 18 years of age.

Local draft boards have been set up in all but three states – Florida, Georgia and North Dakota. Dr. Dykstra last night appointed 284 local boards for California, 165 for Kentucky and 38 for Utah.

Quotes Likely Soon

Local boards began functioning yesterday and today should begin posting outside their headquarters serial numbers for registrants. The numbers will be those in the “goldfish bowl” lottery which will determine the order in which men will be called before local draft boards.

Tentative quotas for the 6,500 local draft boards may be announced here as soon as final figures for registration are received. Final quotas can by law be determined only after classification of registrants from class I-A – fir for military service – to class IV-F – physically, mentally and morally unfit.

Classification can begin as soon as the lottery is held. Local boards then will send out questionnaires at the rate of about 50 per day. At that rate 1,950,000 would be classified weekly and the whole job completed in about two months. Details of that plan were understood to be awaiting Dr. Dykstra’s decision.