In Reply to: Take A Knee posted by Tim Daley(MI) on August 27, 2018 at 12:43:33:
Publication date: Aug. 31, 2013
Ted Nugent was a draft dodger. Really.
Regarding last week's Fact Checker sidebar, Mark Nelson of Sparks wrote, "(Fact Checker) said that since Ted registered for the draft and did not go to Canada, he is not a draft dodger. A quick Google check shows the definition of a draft dodger is someone who 'evades compulsory military service.' It says nothing about Canada or failure to register. By his own admission, Nugent faked symptoms and used drugs to keep from being drafted. Nugent is a draft dodger."
The original column was more interested in whether it's hypocrisy for someone to hold different views at age 64 than at age 18. The question of draft-dodging during the Vietnam War, when some young men were forced to serve by the government, probably wasn't given its due.
Nelson is right. Nugent said in a 1977 High Times magazine article that he faked symptoms (being unhygienic to appear mentally unfit) and used meth before his military physical to get out of serving.
But, in a 2006 interview with the UK Independent newspaper, he said he made up that story to the High Times reporter.
To take a step back, Fact Checker contacted Dick Flahavan at the Selective Service System, which handles registration for military service, to verify what qualifies as draft-dodging.
He wrote in an email, "Every Selective Service registrant was entitled to file for any type claim — postponement, deferment or exemption — to which he believed he was entitled at the time he was called for induction, even though the claim might have been frivolous or even a stretch. If granted by the Local Board, then he received the appropriate classification, e.g., 4-F, II-S, 1-A, etc. This was the procedure that Selective Service followed, it was provided by law, and filing for a claim was not considered draft-dodging.
"On the other hand, if a man faked or deceptively manufactured a claim which did not represent his real situation — e.g., substituted another man's physical exam results, or represented himself as gay to avoid his duty to serve — then it was fraudulent and constituted draft-dodging. The term draft-dodging also was applied to those men who received their notice to report for induction and immediately left the U.S. for Canada or Sweden or remained in the U.S. but dropped out and went underground. …
"In sum, avoiding the draft through any licit method is legal; avoiding service if qualified and called is not.
"So in your example of a man registering for the draft and showing up for his medical exam would not be avoiding the draft or avoiding serving. But if that man faked his medical results, then he would be attempting to avoid … being drafted to serve in the military."
(In an effort to keep politics out of the discussion, Fact Checker did not use Nugent's name, just the case's details, in correspondence.)
According to military records, Nugent got a student deferment. As mentioned above, this was a legal means of avoiding service in the military and is not considered draft dodging.
(Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly — as well as Bill Clinton — all got student deferments during the Vietnam War and are not draft dodgers. Clinton also got help from friends in high places and didn't follow through on some promises to avoid service but is legally considered not to have violated the Military Selective Service Act.)
Nugent's student deferment went away for reasons that are not clear. Jennifer Burke, also with the Selective Service System, told Fact Checker that common reasons could be "he a) finished school or finished the semester, b) was not a full-time student, maintaining good grades, or c) did not return to school for whatever reason."
Given Nugent was a touring musician, b or c are likely candidates.
Regardless, it's clear the initial student deferment was legal. Nugent has said it was given so he could attend Oakland Community College.
Nugent then got a second deferment. Because he failed his military medical exam, he was reclassified as 4-F, or unfit for service.
So everything hinges on that medical exam. If he faked a bad result, he's a draft dodger. If he didn't, he's not.
"By way of clarification," Burke said about 4-F qualifications, "the 'physical' category included psychiatric disorders; 'mental' related to solely intelligence test scores; 'moral' was determined by the registrant's court record."
There are no government records on Nugent that could shed light.
Burke said, "The only remaining records for registrations prior to 1980 are the registration card and classification record. Any other documents, medical records, results of physical examinations, etc., would have been placed in the registrant's file folder. These file folders were routinely destroyed when the registrant reached age 26 years, or age 35 if the individual received a deferment. Any remaining file folders in existence in 1978 were destroyed as approved by the archivist of the United States."
That means the only evidence is from an unreliable witness: Nugent himself.
Of course, Fact Checker reached out to the Nugent camp. Publicist Linda Peterson was asked: "Did Ted Nugent try to make himself seem unfit for duty during his military physical for the Vietnam draft?"
She responded, "Nope, urban legend."
Fact Checker asked what was the reason for Nugent's 4-F deferment and didn't get a reply.
Fact Checker gave too narrow of a definition of "draft dodger" last week, as Mark Nelson of Sparks correctly pointed out.
But even with a more expansive definition, there's still no proof Nugent dodged the draft. If he's a liar who can't be trusted now, that doesn't make his word more trustworthy in 1977.
Plausible arguments can be made for why Nugent would've made up the 1977 story that's the source of draft-dodging claims — the Vietnam War was unpopular and it would be very rock 'n' roll to claim you pulled one over on The Man.
It's also worth noting Nugent has long been anti-drug, railing regularly against the "hippies" of the 1960s who zoned out — often fatally — on drugs. So if he were going to make up a story to a magazine, a pro-drug one would make sense.
And plausible arguments can be made for why he would've made up the 2006 story about the first one being a hoax — he wanted to protect his credibility as a patriotic conservative spokesman.
The only objective conclusion that can be made is there's not enough evidence one way or the other.
That said, if you're going to accuse someone of a crime, you must have better evidence than a single story in High Times magazine that has since been retracted by the source.
Truth Meter: 4 (out of 10)
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