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Section 587 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 required GAO to address (1) the trends in the number of conscientious objector applications for the active and reserve components during calendar years 2002 through 2006; (2) how each component administers its process for evaluating conscientious objector applications; and (3) whether, upon discharge, conscientious objectors are eligible for the same benefits as other former servicemembers. GAO's review included the Coast Guard components. GAO compiled numbers of applications based on data provided by the Armed Forces. However, these numbers do not include the numbers of applications that are not formally reported to the components' headquarters. Also, the Defense Manpower Data Center does not maintain separate data on numbers of applications for conscientious objector status; it does maintain data on reasons for separation. GAO used these data to help assess the reasonableness of the component-provided data and to compile demographic data.

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