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You might have missed it, but or, rather, his lack of it during the Vietnam War.

During an event in Pittsburgh, a group called Veterans and Patriots United waved around a copy of 65-year-old Wolf's selective service record, claiming that an "FR" notation in the document indicated that "Wolf 'failed to report' for a medical exam during the Vietnam War," reported.

A spokesman for the group, Sam DeMarco told the station that Wolf's draft document was " ... marked here by the draft board: 'FR' -- failed to report. He did not show for his pre-induction physical."

Except, according to the Wolf campaign, DeMarco and his cronies got it wrong.

A Selective Service System email provided by Wolf's campaign indicated that the Democratic nominee took his Armed Forces medical examination on Dec. 5, 1968.

According to the email, the results of Wolf's examination were then forwarded to a medical advisory panel because "there was a question about the results of his physical examination," or the "results were borderline."

The email indicates that Wolf was not drafted or inducted into the military and he did not serve as a conscientious objector.

And according to the WTAE-TV story, Wolf received "selective service system deferments based on involvement in first the ROTC and then the Peace Corps, followed by a student deferment."

According to WTAE-TV's report , the Selective Service System said"Wolf was later classified 1-A, he was available for military service but was not called."

A little classless and pointless sparring over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's own Vietnam-era service followed. Corbettspent 13 years in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

And that was, I'd point out, not an uncommon alternative back in those days to a government-funded tour of Indochina. I'm even reliably informed it was good enough for a recent occupant of the White House.

And I only bring this up because it occurred to me that the incredibly low-key kerfuffle over Wolf's military service record represented both a political Hail Mary late in the 2014 campaign and one of the dying gasps of an argument over Vietnam that's consumed our politics for a generation.

Whether you served or did not is one of the great struggles of the Baby Boom.

It's a debate that breaks down along economic and class lines. Then, as now, those who could afford to get out of it or had connections often did. Those who had neither wealth nor clout did not.

And four decades after the war ended whether it was the argument over former President Bill Clinton's military service or the notorious "Swift Boating" of now Secretary of State John Kerry it's a fight that's still being fought.

And it's one, I think, that will die with the Boomers.

Now I'll stipulate this up front: Lying about your military service is an odious act that insults both those who served and the families who mourn or mourned those who fell in battle.

But whether one obtained a student deferment or served in the Peace Corps or went into the National Guard instead of going to Saigon has zero bearing on whether that person is qualified to serve as governor.

Besides,Americans have been coming up with ways to avoid being shot at for at least as long as we've been shooting at each other.

, when wealthy Americans hired "substitutes" to serve in their place. So the idea that Wolf might have found a stint in the Peace Corps preferable to serving in Vietnam isn't all that shocking.

And, yes, I know not everyone had that option.

I was born in 1970, which makes me a card-carrying member of Generation X.

And on my 18th birthday, I went down to the post office and filled out a Selective Service application even though there was no draft and even though I knew that the only way I'd end up in a military uniform was by my own choice.

As an aside, my generation's first real look at combat came during the first Gulf War of 1991, which was over practically before it started. Or so it seemed at the time.

Still, it's difficult to imagine an Xer candidate pointing a finger at a competitor and faulting him for declining to fight in wars he was not required to fight.

Instead of becoming the determinative issue, military service is now effectively a resume-builder that bolsters one's argument for holding elected office.

Two Pennsylvania politicians, former U,S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County and current U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-4th District, ran, at least in part, on their quite honorable military service.

Now we can have another discussion entirely about voluntaryversus compulsory service (as is the case in Israel) and the shared sacrifice of the nation's defense.

The very brave young men and women who fought in the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan represent only a sliver of the overall population.

And it's been remarked more than once that, unlike World War II, there was no sense of shared mission in America's recent Middle Eastern incursions.

But that is an argument for another day and one very much worth having. Unlike who did what during Vietnam.

John L. Micek is PennLive's Opinion Editor. Readers may email him at or follow him on Twitter, .


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