Draft Dodging

[Not that I’m thinking of it (mainly because I’m 38):]

I just read “How Stuff Works”’ explanation of how the military draft works. In it, they mention various deferrments and other disqualifications for being classified 1-A. What they didn’t mention was classification of homosexuals. If nothing else, wouldn’t it at least keep a potential draftee from being put on the front lines where he could compromise the integrity of the unit. :rolleyes:

Did draft dodgers in the Vietnam Era try to claim themselves as being gay. If so, how did they prove it? If it worked, would it work today? Or would the need for manpower overlook the gay issue?

There were some guys who did this. There was a pretty big disincentive to try it, of course, since the stigma (circa 1967 - 1972) of homosexuality would have been a pretty big obstacle, especially since even the rumor could follow a guy around and destroy his social life and any hopes for a career in his home town pretty effectively.

Mitchner had one of his characters in The Drifters consider that option, but I have no idea how close to accurate his fictional character behaved.

IF the local board had an easiy enough time finding bodies (and was sufficiently homophobic), a simple declaration might be enough to get an exemption/deferral. With a more hard-nosed or suspicious board, one might have to provide evidence in the form of a (presumably staged) homosexual act.

While I’m sure that it happened, I am equally sure that it was probably a really rare event. It is similar to going into a seminary to get a divinity exemption. I only knew one guy who tried that, and he couldn’t hack the seminary life well enough to stay in to keep his deferment. Given the number of guys I knew who did not get drafted (and the sometimes wild tales I heard of what they tried), I will note that the only places I heard about this were in “reports” in the paper or in fiction.

I suspect that most false deferments were accomplished by playing games to raise one’s blood pressure or talking one’s doctor into playing up a minor medical condition into something that could earn a IV-F.

Any comment on what “might” happen, today, would be pure speculation–especially since the military opposes re-instating the draft. (There have been charges that some of the people dismissed from the military for homosexuality in the last six months have been people who “came out” in order to avoid combat or overseas duty, however, that is also speculation.)

Oh, how the times have changed!

True story:

While my grandfather’s friends were all clamboring to enlist during WWII, my grandfather went with the tide of patriotism and attempted enlistment as well. However, during his medical examine, he came in a little too underweight. But, being the MIT scholarship graduate (in engineering) that he was, he figured a night out drinking high-caloric beer would do the trick and, sure enough, he came in within weight requirements when he went to enlist the next day (I suppose he went in the afternoon…). He was given an engineering position and never left State-side, and he could stay home with my grandmother (who was working on the Manhattan Project, not that she knew what she was really doing…) but none-the-less, was eager to be part of the war effort.

Earlier thread discussing these issues:

What constitutes legal proof that one is gay?

tomndebb provided a good answer however I would like to comment on a few minor points.

True in a small town but not in a large city where the draft board would not know the draftee. I believe the fear of the stigma would be the deciding factor. The only indication of failing the physical would be a 1Y (only in national emergency) or 4F classification and flat feet would serve as an excuse. The draft records were not public knowledge and ignored by other government agencies including federal. The fear of a black mark on ‘Your Permament Record’ was unjustified but the fear itself was reason enough to prevent the stigma of homosexuality prior to 1986.

While draft boards were largely autonomous I find it hard to believe one would want photographic proof when that proofat that time would be illegal.

The Attorney General’s list of subversive organizations was an out, so to speak. I saw one guy fail the preinductive physical because he watched a KKK rally. Ironically he wanted to serve. Don’t know what happened to him but I still have my black square that was paperclipped to the other documents we carried around that day.