I was in the premed program at the University of Georgia at the time of the lottery. My roommate was a business major. The night the lottery was broadcast live on the radio, Dwight and I purchased a couple of six packs of beer and several snacks, settling in for the night to listen to the broadcast at our apartment.

For us, the lottery was over in less than two minutes. Dwight went number one and I was number three in the lottery. We just sat there in silence, staring at each other for a few minutes. Then, realizing there was a bright side to our predicament, I said, we’ve still got two six packs of beer. This night is not a total loss.

I subsequently applied to medical school, and also applied to optometry school as a back-up position. I was accepted at the UAB optometry school after my junior year, and that would result in a four-year deferment. Unfortunately, the UAB offer was for that class only, and would not be extended if I went back to UGA for my senior year. Quite a quandary. Take the sure thing, or take my chances on getting accepted to medical school, my career preference. If I did not gain acceptance to medical school, my draft board informed me I would be reclassified I-A and immediately drafted after my last quarter at UGA. I rolled the dice, passed on the optometry position, and received my letter of acceptance to medical school one month before graduation.

Eventually, Congress ended the draft, and I attended medical school, now working as a neuro-radiologist. My roommate became ultra–successful in real estate, far outstripping me in income and lifestyle. Things worked out okay for both of us.

Every generation has to deal with a unique set of problems, but I question whether students today can understand the stress our generation was under at the time of the Vietnam war. One of my best friends did not maintain his grades in college and lost his student deferment. Four months after arriving in Vietnam, he was sent home in a body bag. Unbelievable penalty for not keeping up your grades.