Claim: Trump avoided military service during the Vietnam War.
Rating: This claim is TRUE. Trump never served in the Vietnam War or in the military. For over a decade during the Vietnam War, Trump sought and received five deferments, including allegedly lying about a medical condition to avoid the draft during the height of the war in 1968.
Men between the ages of 18-26 had to serve in the military for 21 months under the Vietnam War draft unless they were given a deferment. A deferment officially postpones compulsory military service. Trump’s official selective service records revealed that he avoided serving in the Vietnam War because he obtained five deferments, once for bad feet and four times for college.
After avoiding the draft in college, Trump graduated in 1968, the bloodiest year of the Vietnam War. He was a 22 year old athlete who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall. But despite being a perfect candidate for military service, Trump dodged the draft by making up a fake injury according to multiple sources.
These sources include Trump’s advisors and the family of the doctor who provided Trump with the false diagnosis. Here is what they have said:
- Trump’s former lawyer testified under oath to Congress that when he asked for medical records of the injury, Trump provided none, revealed there was no foot surgery, and instructed his former lawyer to avoid answering questions from the press about it. His former lawyer noted that Trump told him, “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
- A former senior official from the Trump administration recently disclosed that Trump said that Vietnam War veterans did not know how to exploit the system to get out of serving.
- The family of the doctor, who provided Trump with a letter to obtain the medical deferment, stated that their father, a podiatrist, often told them that he issued the letter as a favor to Trump’s father. At that time, Trump’s father was the landlord of the podiatrist’s office building.
Trump has repeatedly failed to provide proof of his medical condition (bone spurs) that disqualified him from serving in the military. He also struggles to recall the most basic facts about the alleged foot injury like which foot was affected. He has changed his story saying now it was both feet.
The Trump campaign has also offered misleading statements about why Trump did not serve during the Vietnam War, saying it was due to Trump having a high lottery number that was not drawn. However, Trump’s selective service records clearly show that his medical deferment remained in place for the duration of the Vietnam War. When questioned about this, Trump’s campaign did not comment further.
There are also no indications that Trump was a conscientious objector to the war. Trump told reporters, “I was never a fan of the Vietnam War…But I was never at the protest level, either, because I had other things to do.”
Conclusion: Several sources and reputable news organizations have widely reported that Trump dodged the Vietnam War draft. Trump has never acknowledged this publicly. But his inconsistent statements and lack of transparency have bolstered the belief that Trump made up a fake injury to avoid military service. To learn whether Trump supported US efforts in the Vietnam War, read this article.