During the Vietnam War, the draft was based on a lottery system. All eligible young men were assigned a number based on their birthdate, and those with lower numbers were more likely to be drafted. However, exemptions and deferments were available, leading to inequities and controversies surrounding the draft.
During the Vietnam War, the draft system used a lottery system to determine who would be called to serve in the military. All eligible young men were assigned a number based on their birthdate, with those who turned 20 in a specific year being the primary focus of the draft. The draft lottery was conducted every year, and the numbers were drawn to determine the order in which men would be called up for service.
Exemptions and deferments were available during the draft, which led to controversies and inequities in who was called to serve. Some individuals were exempt from the draft based on physical or mental health conditions, while others received deferments for education, hardship, or being the sole breadwinner in their family. These exemptions and deferments often led to accusations of favoritism and inequality, as some individuals were able to avoid military service while others faced the prospect of being drafted.
One interesting fact about the draft during the Vietnam War is the introduction of the draft lottery system in 1969. The lottery was conducted publicly on live television, drawing significant attention and creating a lot of anticipation and anxiety for young men eligible for the draft.
Another interesting fact is that the draft sparked widespread protests and opposition to the war. Many individuals, including famous individuals such as Muhammad Ali, resisted the draft and refused to serve in the military. This resistance was based on objections to the war and a belief that the draft was unjust. Muhammad Ali, the renowned boxer, famously stated, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” expressing his refusal to fight in a war he did not believe in.
A well-known resource, the National Archives, sheds light on the draft during Vietnam with an example of a draft lottery result table. The lottery number determined the order in which men were summoned for induction. Here is an example of a draft lottery result table:
| Lottery Number | Birth Date | Order of Call |
| 10 | January 1, 1949 | 1 |
| 185 | June 9, 1950 | 50 |
| 365 | December 31, 1952 | 100 |
This table shows three sample lottery numbers, along with the corresponding birth dates and order of call. The draft process during the Vietnam War was complex, with various factors such as birth date, exemptions, and deferments influencing who served in the military. The draft and controversies surrounding it remain significant aspects of the war’s history.
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The Vietnam War draft was introduced in 1965 by President Johnson, requiring young men aged 18 to 26, who were not considering military service, to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam conflict. The Selective Service System recorded the names of American men of draft age, and local draft boards would determine whether they would be drafted or not. This process was often seen as unfair, as most of the men chosen were from poor or working-class backgrounds, people of color, and people from rural towns. Ways of being exempt from the draft existed, and resisters would sometimes go to jail for refusing to fight in the war. The draft process became fairer in 1969 with the creation of a draft lottery, but, in the end, President Nixon shifted to an all-volunteer force, ending the draft in the Vietnam War.
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There were 366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates placed in a large glass container and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law.
During the Vietnam War era, between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military drafted 2.2 million American men out of an eligible pool of 27 million. On December 1, 1969, the United States held its first draft lottery, which gave young men a random number corresponding to their birthdays. Men with lower numbers were called first and told to report to induction centers where they could be ordered into active duty and possibly sent to the Vietnam War.
The Draft in Context. The military draft brought the war to the American home front. During the Vietnam War era, between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military drafted 2.2 million American men out of an eligible pool of 27 million. Although only 25 percent of the military force in the combat zones were draftees, the system of conscription caused many young American men to volunteer for the armed forces in order to have more of a…
On Dec. 1, 1969, the United States held its first draft lottery, which gave young men a random number corresponding to their birthdays. Men with lower numbers were called first and told to report to induction centers where they could be ordered into active duty and possibly sent to the Vietnam War.
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Draft resisters filed for conscientious objector status, didn’t report for induction when called, or attempted to claim disability. Soldiers went AWOL and fled to Canada through underground railroad networks of antiwar supporters.