The lottery changed my life forever.
In 1969 I was a senior in high school and the Vietnam War was very hot. The neighborhood hero was an Air Force pilot who was shot down and killed over North Vietnam. My girlfriend’s only brother stepped on a mine and was killed. So, I figured that I was cannon fodder with a number so low. I also figured I should prepare for the war (I saw it going on and on), so my college applications were to only military institutions. If I had to go, I would go as an officer.
I went to Norwich University and won a full ROTC scholarship. The war finally ended as I graduated. I went on to serve a full career on both active duty and reserves. I was surprised to discover the Army was not the monolith I had originally thought and also surprised that I was very good at being an officer.
Looking back on it all, I can’t help but wonder sometimes what my life would have been like if I hadn’t had to stop everything and concentrate on the military. On the other hand, I had a lifetime of adventure, lived all over the world and developed a worldview and maturity well beyond my years.