Tuesday 22 May 2018

Trump's exemption from military service in Vietnam War comes under the microscope

Donald Trump. Photo: Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump. Photo: Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images

Chiara Palazzo

Donald Trump's attacks on the Muslim parents of a decorated American soldier killed in Iraq have sparked renewed scrutiny of the tycoon's military service deferment, which exempted him from service during the Vietnam War.

The Republican presidential candidate's criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who took the stage at last week's Democratic convention, generated growing concern and dismay from Republican politicians.

Mr Trump drew similar opprobrium a year ago when he said Senator John McCain, who as a naval aviator was shot down and taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, was not a hero because he had been captured.

At the time, a report in the Washington Post revealed that while then-Lieutenant Commander McCain was suffering from disease, malnourishment, and a number of gruesome wounds in a bleak Vietnamese prison, Mr Trump was living a glamorous life at an Ivy League University and in exclusive Manhattan nightclubs.

When Mr McCain's plane was shot down over Hanoi during his 23rd bombing mission Mr Trump, nine years his junior, was studying the real estate business at Pennsylvania University's esteemed Wharton School.


He was able to avoid conscription through a series of student deferments, as well as a medical deferment for a bone spur in his foot.

While Mr Trump has asserted it was "ultimately" the luck of a high draft lottery number that kept him out of the war, his Selective Service records "suggest otherwise", The New York Times reported.

"Mr Trump had been medically exempted for more than a year when the draft lottery began in December 1969, well before he received what he has described as his 'phenomenal' draft number," the newspaper claimed in an article published on Monday.

The newspaper quoted a spokesman for the Selective Service System saying Mr Trump's lottery number would have been irrelevant because of his medical exemption. "If you didn't have a basis to be exempt or postponed, you would have been ordered for induction," Richard Flahavan said.

The newspaper also said Mr Trump could not recall exactly when he was no longer bothered by the spurs, protrusions caused by calcium built up on the heel bone, but that he had not had an operation for the problem.

"Over a period of time, it healed up," the newspaper quoted him saying. It also pointed out that Mr Trump played squash, football and tennis during high school and picked up golf while at Wharton.

It went on to note how his longtime personal physician, Dr Harold Bornstein, said in January that Mr Trump had "no significant medical problems" over four decades and that, if elected, he "will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency".

Irish Independent

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