For a million U.S. men, failing to register for the draft has serious, long-term consequences.

For 39 years, it’s been a rite of passage for American men. Within 30 days of his 18th birthday, every male citizen and legal resident is required to register for Selective Service, either by filling out a postcard-size form or going online.

What’s less well known is what happens on a man’s 26th birthday.

Men who fail to register for the draft by then can no longer do so – forever closing the door to government benefits like student aid, a government job or even U.S. citizenship.

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