Types of Draft Resistance

Un-Ethical Ways

The second way of avoiding the draft was for men to play the game, but "cheat." There were a wide variety of ways to mislead the Selective Service System. There were legal loopholes in the draft law that allowed some men to avoid being drafted by simple failing to register. Since men were required by law to carry their draft card with them at all times (or risk being arrested on the spot), some men found ways to obtain fake draft cards or other forged documents. The induction physical also was full of ways to escape, if one was creative or persistent. It was possible, sometimes, to bribe a doctor into writing a letter to your draft board, excusing you from the war. If no willing doctor could be found, some men chose to fake an illness (mental or physical), or even to inflict harm to themselves (such as shoot themselves in the foot) in an attempt to fail the physical. Men went on very extreme diets and then came to the physical underweight and malnourished. Of course, drugs (legal and illegal) were often used to throw off the doctors' readings.

On the mental side, some men would show up for induction with a very bad stutter, or even go so far as to dress in female underwear. Still other men found their escape by becoming a minister for a mail-order church, or by failing the literacy test. One sure way to get a IV-F classification (unfit for military service) was to commit a felony. There is an apocryphal tale of three students at the University of California at Berkeley, who spent their vacations hunting the American eagle in Colorado. It is a felony to kill the American eagle; felony conviction keeps you out of the military.

All of the above methods were used by young men to try to convince their draft board that they were not classifiable as I-A. Sometimes the "cheat" worked, but sometimes it didn't. For example, there was one evader who soaked six cigarettes in black ink, dried them out, and smoked them all just before showing up for his induction physical. The chest X-ray taken during the exam showed several enormous spots on his lungs. The examiner gave him a IV-F right on the spot, and told him to report to his family doctor or a city health clinic before he died of TB. Another young man tried the same ruse, but was not as lucky. The examining doctor, suspecting something, ordered him held in an army hospital for three days; his "TB" miraculously disappeared, and he was inducted.

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