The New York billionaire, who was a genuine student-athlete in his youth, came away with a medical deferment in 1968 owing to bone spurs in both heels, according to his latest explanation. But in seeking to downplay that exemption as “minor” and “short-term,” Trump’s campaign raises more questions than it answers as to how he sidestepped military service during the war.
Like politics itself, timing was everything in that crucial period of 1968 and 1969, when the Army was running out of volunteer replacements and more and more draftees were needed to man infantry units in Vietnam. Draftees represented an ever larger percentage of those Americans killed in action in 1968 and 1969, and college graduates born, like Trump, in 1946 or 1947 became a target for draft boards across the country.
Having enjoyed four years of student deferments, the name of the game for many was to find a new way to stay out of the war. National Guard slots were coveted as a safer alternative to Vietnam. Others got married, had children or found jobs, such as teaching, that might keep the draft board at bay.