President Trump has a well-documented affection for all things military, from military parades to military spending to his selection of retired Gen. John Kelly as his chief of staff. His appreciation of the military is such that you might wonder if he has a military background himself. So, was Donald Trump in the military?
Was Donald Trump in the military?
A better question would be, did Donald Trump serve in the military. The answer to which is no. He did, however, attend military school. Donald Trump was sent to New York Military Academy, about 60 miles north of New York City, by his parents, Fred and Mary, in 1959 when he was 12 years old. He stayed through his senior year, graduating at 17. Trump has said that his time at the academy gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
There is controversy about his time there. Although Trump has said he was “one of the top guys in the whole school” and “in charge of all the cadets,” the Washington Post found that Trump had been removed from a leadership position in his senior year, because he allowed hazing among the boys in his command and excessively delegated responsibilities to others, spending too much time in his room.
He was voted “Ladies’ Man,” according to his senior yearbook.
“Cadet Bone Spurs”
But was Donald Trump in the military after he finished school? Despite Trump’s military education, he did not go on to serve. He received five deferments from the Vietnam draft, four for college and one for an ailment he was diagnosed with after graduation in 1968: bone spurs in his heels. Instead, he followed his father into the real estate business.
In interviews, he claimed that he avoided service in Vietnam because of a high draft number. The Smoking Gun uncovered details about the medical deferment in 2011. During the presidential campaign, Trump described his health as “perfection” and said the spurs were “temporary” but couldn’t recall which heel was affected or what doctor granted him the deferment in an August 2016 interview with The New York Times. “I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels,” Trump said. He called them “not a big problem, but it was enough of a problem…You know, it was difficult from the long-term walking standpoint.”
Trump’s avoidance of military service has been spotlighted by members of the military critical of his racist and authoritarian views. For example, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran and double amputee, dubbed him “Cadet Bone Spurs” after Trump asserted that Democrats who didn’t clap during his State of the Union address were “treasonous.”