At a rally this week Donald Trump was given a Purple Heart by one of his supporters, sparking a controversy which has led to accusations that he dodged the draft for the Vietnam War.
- Donald Trump accepted a Purple Heart from a supporter at a rally on Tuesday, and said it was “much easier” than serving in the war.
- Many have noted the inappropriateness of this statement, including Khizr Khan.
- Khan, who he has been feuding with, says he should have returned it and accused him of draft dodging.
- Trump had five deferments during the Vietnam War: 4 for education, 1 for a medical reason.
The Purple Heart Controversy
At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim American soldier who served in Iraq, made the statement “You have sacrificed nothing, Mr. Trump!”
When Trump was given the Purple Heart by a supporter at his rally, Trump stated that he had always wanted a Purple Heart but this was “much easier” than serving in combat. This incident is just further proof that Trump doesn’t understand the gravity of the sacrifices of soldiers who serve in combat.
His statement has drawn criticism from many, including Khan who had asked of him, “Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending this country.”
Khan’s son was a recipient of the Purple Heart, which is given to soldiers who are wounded or killed in combat. It is the ultimate symbol of military sacrifice. Khan said Trump should have returned the Purple Heart.
This from a man who says he’s “sacrificed” for our country. https://t.co/oId7LJdrx8
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 2, 2016
Khizr Khan has also accused Donald Trump of draft dodging.
This has shined a light on the fact that he received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War.
While it can’t be proven that his intention was to dodge the draft, the evidence appears to suggest this.
Donald Trump is a man who has described his own health as “perfection.” Looking back to his college years, Trump was very healthy indeed. He was very athletic, playing a number of sports, like football and tennis. While in college, he received four deferments, since students could choose not to be drafted to Vietnam as long as they were enrolled.
With the exception of a childhood routine appendectomy, he had a perfect record of health—until he received a draft deferment for medical reasons. Apparently, Trump had suddenly developed heel spurs which affected his walking. Trump claimed the spurs weren’t “a big problem, but it was enough of a problem.”
Trump’s Vietnam draft deferment, was magically medically disq for war just 1 year after a clean health evaluation: pic.twitter.com/p3MGd1B9sr
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) May 28, 2016
His conveniently timed diagnosis kept him from being drafted. The deferment happened in the Fall of 1968 right after he graduated from college in Spring, which is when he became eligible for the draft. That year, about 300,000 Americans were drafted and deployed to Southeast Asia.
Trump, who was enrolled at the New York Military Academy as a young boy, said the prep school gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
For years, Trump falsely claimed the reason he wasn’t drafted was because he received a lucky draft lottery number. This isn’t a valid claim for two reasons. First, Trump’s medical exemption makes the lottery result irrelevant. Second, the lottery didn’t begin until over a year after his medical exemption anyway.
Trump’s statement about getting the Purple Heart from a supporter being “easier” than serving in a war highlights his misunderstanding of the meaning of sacrifice and his lack of empathy for soldiers’ losses. It is no surprise to find that his medical deferment in 1968 was so conveniently timed that it appears to be evidence of deliberate draft dodging.