- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Mandatory military service for all young people would boost the armed forces and could help bridge the nation’s political divisions, a former U.S. Marine running for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat said Thursday.

Jason Senteney proposes to require all Americans over 18 to serve in any branch of the military for at least two years. Part of their pay during that time would automatically be saved for education or other needs upon return to civilian life, he said.

Nobody would be forced into a combat role, and those unable to serve in the military would work on civilian infrastructure projects.

“It would build a sense of pride nationwide,” said Senteney, a Republican. “Somewhere along the lines, I think, that has gotten lost. A lot of people don’t serve their communities any more or even serve their countries anymore.”

Those who refused to serve would be unable to ever collect welfare, Medicaid or unemployment benefits, he said.

A state corrections officer in Torrington, Senteney served four years in the Marines over three stints in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His role in the Marines prohibits him from disclosing where he was deployed, he said.

Senteney estimated his proposal would boost the nation’s active-duty military, from around 1.4 million to 15 million. Of those, about 3 million would be ready for combat, Senteney said.

Such a large force would deter not only international terrorist organizations and state adversaries but also lone-wolf-type terrorists at home, he said.

“If somebody knows that the majority of the people - whatever the venue, whether it’s a gun-free zone or not - are militarily trained, I believe it’s a great deterrent,” Senteney said.

The $75 billion cost could be covered in part by holding defense contractors more accountable for their costs and by reducing foreign aid and subsidies, he said.

Nine Republicans and two Democrats are running to replace Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who’s not seeking re-election.

Senteney’s proposal is typical of huge ideas on the Republican side of the race that have little chance of passing, Democratic candidate Ryan Greene said. Fewer than 1 percent of bills brought by freshman congressmen pass, he said.

“It’s got good intent. But what these guys are doing now out there on the trail is just big talk and big promises,” Greene said.

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