AFSC was born out of the passionate opposition to violence of young pacifists during World War I. Moral objection to war continued to inform our work for decades, and in the 1950s we backed the plaintiffs in a major Supreme Court case that expanded eligibility for conscientious objector (CO) status. During World War II we helped form the Civilian Public Service for COs, and by the Vietnam era, AFSC was one of the main sources of counseling and support for men resisting the draft for moral or political reasons. 

With the transition to an all-volunteer army in the 1970s, low-income youth and communities of color became the primary targets for recruiters. To challenge this “poverty draft,” we developed resources to educate young people about other life options. We also created tools to help unmask and challenge deceptive recruiting practices. 

After September 11, 2001, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq created a surge of military enlistment and heightened the urgency to inform vulnerable students about recruiters’ tactics. AFSC helped organize a network of anti-recruitment groups into the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), dedicated to empowering young men and women to understand their alternatives to enlistment.

Learn More

  • Two men wearing glasses sit together at the corner of a table.
    Daniel Seeger (left) was denied CO status during World War II because he did not profess "belief in a Supreme Being.” AFSC supported Seeger (who later joined our staff), until the Supreme Court ultimately broadened the legal definition of conscientious objection.
  • Image from a pamphlet called "Why draft repeal? Answers to questions about military conscription."
    During the war in Vietnam, AFSC produced educational materials and trained CO counselors to challenge the draft and the war.
  • Young people and adults march together down a street, holding pamphlets, banners, and signs.
    Thousands of draft-age men visited AFSC draft counseling centers to learn about CO deferments, as well as other options for resisting military conscription.
  • Young people marching and chanting together, some with fists raised, some holding banners.
    After the war, AFSC continued to organize against military recruitment, calling for an end to militarism and the “poverty draft.”
  • Pamphlet entitled "Should I go to college?"
    When the “all-volunteer” army targeted low-income, minority youth, AFSC’s Youth and Militarism Program helped open doors to college and other non-military career options.
  • Image from a pamphlet describing what young people should know about military recruiters and how to protect themselves.
    During the intense recruiting for the Afghan and Iraq wars, recruiters often provided misleading information. AFSC distributed tens of thousands of brochures to give young people a more accurate picture of military life.
  • Image that reads, "Its my life! A guide to alternatives after high school."
    This comprehensive guide to nonmilitary options after high school covered everything from “serving your country peacefully” to “seeing the world” and “greening your career.”
  • Poster with the message "It is time to teach peace: Make our schools military-free zones" written on it.
    In 2007, we worked with youth, parents, teachers, and other peace groups from the Los Angeles Unified School District to demilitarize their schools and remove Junior ROTC from high schools.
  • Three young women stand together, holding signs that read, "Stop funding war, start funding peace."
    High schools can legally provide military recruiters with information about draft-age students. We have helped students “opt-out” of this process and challenge the “high school-military complex.”
  • Seven young people stand with a woman, all wearing shirts that say, "A war budget leaves every child behind."
    In 2009, we helped transform a loose coalition of organizers into the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. NNOMY continues to support alternatives to military enlistment.