Is Bruce Springsteen a Veteran? He Was Drafted but Never Served

Bruce Springsteen is the artist behind “Born in the USA,” often sharing his patriotism with music and with his work relationships. Although this artist was drafted for the Vietnam War, he never served in the military. Here’s why.

Bruce Springsteen grew up in New Jersey

Musician Bruce Springsteen performs at an election eve rally for Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary
Musician Bruce Springsteen performs at a rally for Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary | Clinton Cheriss May/NurPhoto

Some know him as “the Boss.” Others know him as the Grammy Award-winning artist behind “Dancing in the Dark” and “Born to Run.” Springsteen was raised in New Jersey, often sharing his appreciation for towns like Freehold, Asbury Park, and Belmar.

With New Jersey-specific lyrics in many of his songs, Springsteen is proudly an alumnus of the Stone Pony and a resident of Colts Neck. The singer mentions his patriotism in several originals — even if he was drafted but never served in the United States military.

Bruce Springsteen was drafted during the Vietnam War — but never served

Due to a concussion from a motorcycle accident, Springsteen never served in the military. This artist grew up in the midst of the Vietnam War, even calling himself a “stone-cold draft dodger” at one point.

“Drafted during the Vietnam War, he tried his hardest to get out of serving, including pretending he was on LSD,” Time Magazine reported. “But the violence and loss of war still figured in his life: His father served in World War II and came back with bouts of depression and paranoia.” 

This artist was deeply impacted by war in more ways than one. Bart Haynes, (the drummer from Springsteen’s first band,) and New Jersey native/rocker Walter Cichon, both died while in Vietnam. 

“So, perhaps, I felt guilty about that later on,” Springsteen told Tom Hanks at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. “I had friends who went. I had friends who went and died. I had friends later on who were seriously hurt.” 

Bruce Springsteen released songs ‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Streets of Philadelphia’

Springsteen shares his patriotism in different ways, releasing songs like “Born in the USA,” “My Hometown,” and “Working on the Highway” about his New Jersey upbringing and living in the United States. 

The artist partnered with Former President Barack Obama for the podcast series, Renegades: Born in the USA. Springsteen sometimes practices activism with his music, especially with his work on the Philadelphia soundtrack.

“‘Streets of Philadelphia’ and Jonathan Demme had gotten me thinking about writing on social issues again,” Springsteen wrote. “This was something I’d steered away from for the past decade. As my success increased, there was something about that ‘rich man in a poor man’s shirt’ that left an uneasy taste in my mouth.”

The Boss also created his own nonprofit organization, Thrill Hill Foundation. According to Inside Philanthropy, he also created The Foundation, Inc., which “funds house repairs for low-income homeowners in New Jersey.” Music by Springsteen is available on most major streaming platforms. 

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