My initial experience with the Selective Service dates to May 1966 when I registered shortly after turning 18. New York, where I lived at the time, provided a strong motive for getting a draft card: it was one of the best ways to prove your age and drinking was legal in New York at 18 at that time. One Saturday morning about a week later when I was sleeping in, I heard my mother open the front door to get the mail. Then she let out a blood curdling wail. She had seen that my classification card read "1-A" and that I was to report for my induction physical with a week. I calmy tried to reassure her that it was all a bad mistake. I had been accepted into college at UNC-Chapel Hill beginning that September so I should certainly have been classified as "2-S". But I was shaking inside being uncertain that it would be so easy to correct things. Actually, my draft board readily accepted my letter of acceptance to UNC and sent me a new classification card within a week.
I didn’t think too much about the draft over the next few years and I thought I had been a "winner" when I learned that my birth date (May 1) came up at 330 in the 1969 draft lottery. But noooo.
At that time, I was in my junior year at UNC as a chemistry major with medical school as my goal. I finished a semester early and worked as a research assistant at the UNC medical school as I waited to hear about my acceptance. I ended up getting into the medical school at the SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. It turned out to be a great place to study medicine. It snowed so much you found yourself preferring to look into a microscope than looking out a window.
As a medical student, my draft board immediately classified me as "2-MS". This meant I was deferred from the draft while actively studying medicine but, as soon as I was done, I would be subject to the "medical draft". The medical draft didn’t use a lottery and my 330 was meaningless.
The war was winding down by the end of my time in medical school and the regular draft had ceased (in 1973, I think) but the medical draft was still active. By then my wife and I had had our first son and our resources were getting depleted. I decided to apply to and was accepted into the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) to become a "Senior COSTEP" candidate. Under this program, I would become a Commissioned Officer (Ensign) in the PHS, receive base pay plus housing and subsistence allowances monthly, have my senior year’s tuition paid, and get a "book allowance". For that, I would owe them two years of service as a physician in a rural and/or underserved community. After that, I would be free of that obligation as well as my Selective Service obligation. It seemed like a good deal compared to other "Berry Plan" options.
As it turned out, my first assignment was as a medical officer in the Regional Office of the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare in downtown Chicago. There I developed an interest in public health and preventive medicine. After about 18 months I was transferred to the USPHS Hospital in Baltimore and was able to attend classes part-time at The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Heatlh eventually earning a Master of Public Health degree and becoming board certified in preventive medicine. By then, my two year PHS commitment had been satisfied and my Selective Service obligation had been erased but I decided to stay in the PHS and ended up serving a full 30 years, most of it at the National Institutes of Health, before retiring in 2004. I continue to consult on a part-time basis for my institute. I’ve had a great life and believe a portion of my good luck was directed by the Selective Service System and the draft.