Na­tional Guard was key to avoid­ing Viet­nam

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

EDITOR, TIMES-DIS­PATCH:

I was taken back by the let­ter from Ge­orge J. Pitonyak, “Veterans aren’t happy with play­ers kneel­ing.” Pitonyak calls for a re­turn of the draft and de­scribes his strug­gle to avoid the last draft. If that draft had been such a good thing, why did he ma­nip­u­late the sys­tem to get a pass on Viet­nam through the Na­tional Guard?

Pitonyak states that Army pay was low and he had a good job lined up. Those seem like good rea­sons to not want to be drafted. Un­for­tu­nately, when it comes to Viet­nam, my gen­er­a­tion of­ten suf­fers col­lec­tive am­ne­sia. At that time, very few re­serve or Na­tional Guard units were called to serve in Viet­nam. Get­ting into one of those units was a safe ticket. Go­ing to a meet­ing once a month plus an an­nual two-week train­ing ses­sion were bet­ter odds than end­ing up in the in­fantry in Viet­nam.

Granted, there was a pos­si­bil­ity of riot duty or be­ing called up for an emer­gency in the Guard. But that was still a bet­ter than be­com­ing an “11 Bravo” (the Army job num­ber for in­fantry).

It is ob­vi­ous Pitonyak was aware of that and acted on it. He se­cured his job and did not suf­fer from $88 a month. He was not alone. Many young men went to the Na­tional Guard or Re­serves to avoid serv­ing in Viet­nam. R.H. (BOB) POW­ELL. GLEN ALLEN.

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