I remember having a foreboding premonition the night of the lottery — I’d become involved in the anti-Viet Nam war movement on campus my junior year and had participated in the March on Washington. I feared that payback, even if left entirely to chance, was coming. Sure enough, it did. While others gathered in the dorm conference room to watch the lottery, I stayed in my room. When my number was picked, my distraught condition was exacerbated by hearing others in the dorm, whom I knew to be opposed to the war, celebrating their similarly low numbers. Could they not see what was ahead for them?
I had hoped to attend graduate school at Stanford, Harvard, or MIT. The first two, upon learning of my draft number, told me that they would not even consider my application. MIT accepted me, but I was forced to tell them that I could not attend. After graduating in 1970, I looked into the Navy Reserve and also applied for CO status.
While my CO application was pending, and before I could further pursue the Navy (where my father had served during WW II), I had a bad car accident that hospitalized me for 10 days and required extensive physical therapy thereafter. I appeared before my draft board in DC for the hearing on my CO application wearing a sling on my left arm and barely able to use my right arm because of a permanently dislocated right shoulder. The board turned me down almost before I had left the room.
Knowing that I soon would receive my induction notice, I consulted an orthopedist, who told me that my permanenly dislocated right shoulder rendered me unsuitable for military service. He offered to so inform the Government, and I accepted. Not too long afterwards, I received my IV-F.
I have told this story many times. Inevitably I am asked if I had the car accident to escape military service. I assure the questioners that, much as I did not look forward to possible service in Viet Nam, there was no way I would so severely injure myself just to escape that possibility.