Thinking back 40 years ago. I was finishing a Nursing degree at the University of Wisconsin, anticipating getting married, and contemplating working full time with the Student Christian group that I had become involved with as a sophmore. I really wasn’t worried about the draft. I had a useable skill and wanted to work a job that qualified for a Ministry Deferment. I married, finished school and was quickly reclassified I-A and my appeal was quickly denied by both my local and state boards. I figured that my appeal was clouded by several facts. Cassius Clay was appealing for the same deferment, and the organization I was working for was out of California (what kind of religion came from there?). Nothing occurred for months. The day after I left for training for the organization, my Induction notice came. In those days before cell phones, my dad had the State Police in 3 states looking for me. A State Trooper woke me several days later knocking on the window of my VW bus telling me I should call home. I proceeded to Calif stopping along the way at a Selective Service Office in Wyoming to have the Induction Point changed. Of course when I went to the Army and asked if I could serve as a Nurse they said no way unless I enlisted for 3 years. I went to the Navy and tried to enlist in the Navy Nurse Corps. I shot myself in the foot there because at the end of the interview I said that although I would be happy to serve in the Navy, if the opportunity to do the Ministry thing came through I would select that first. In the course of the interview, I did clear up one thing: that I wasn’t a Conscientious Objector. When asked if I could defend my patients if the hospital I served in was over-run, it cleared it up right then. After spending 5 years at the U. of Wisconsin during that tumultuous period I was never clear how I felt until that moment.
I spent the next several months waiting for the induction date expecting to continue my religious activities with a uniform on when 3 days before I was to report with my little duffle, I was told that my appeal and that of 12 others from other organizations were being examined by a review board in Washington. When I asked what I should do, the advice was to continue what I was doing. The verdict could come in two months or two years. I reported to a University in the South and spent time every day talking with students about how they could have meaning and purpose in their lives with a relationship with God. About three months after I arrived I received a draft card in the mail stamped IV-D (which was the ministry deferment) by order of the PRESIDENT ( I had never seen that little box on the card.) I kept that card for many years. I kept working with that organization for the next 9 years and always felt that I invested my life in the lives of others to a great deal of benefit. Today, my only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to be a nurse at that time in Vietnam and serve the guys then that I get to serve today who come through my ER as vets (many with problems that stem from that conflict.) My concern today is that those returning from service of our country will receive all that they need to lead fruitful and productive lives.