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Maine Public is encouraging Vietnam Veterans and anyone affected by the conflict to share their own story on the Vietnam War and correspondence they had during or after the war. Submissions can be written, recorded or videotaped and sent to Maine Public at mystory@mainepublic.org. The stories will be collected and archived here and some may be shared with the greater Maine audience.Watch "Courageous Conversations."Click HERE for support opportunities for veterans in crisis.

R. J. Struba, MD, PhD.

Around the turn of the ’60s to ’70s, with a draft lottery number of 18, and real mixed feelings about this illegal war, I completed a conscientious objector’s petition with my local working class factory town board.


I’m trying to get the thing, as I can’t find a copy. It was approved, and should be important to see the evolution of my thinking. I was in college, a premedie, and had the college deferment for a year or two, then became a recognized CO. Went on to medical school, continuing the deferment status. I understand the patriotism involved in those who enlisted/commissioned or served as draftees, but also agree with those who variously went the other way. Today I heard of the guilt some Vietnam era vets who were not in country allegedly feel. My take is different. I feel no guilt about my decisions, even being grateful for the CO and the deferments, the latter of which I admit were of questionable fairness. Many of the other kids in our community who were also of factory worker families did serve, and some died or were quite impaired on returning. I had the insight and conviction to have found my own way. Zero guilt. I thank myself for my lack of service.