A Timeline of Trump's Vietnam War-Era Draft Deferments

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Neither U.S. President Joe Biden nor former President Donald Trump, both of whom are running for a second shot at the presidency in the November 2024 election, served in the military, a circumstance some voters see as a shortcoming, others not. In any case, the U.S. Constitution does not require it.

Both Trump and Biden came of age during the Vietnam War era, when males 18 and older were eligible to be drafted into military service, but both obtained multiple draft deferments that kept them out of the war. As we have reported elsewhere, Biden received five student deferments because he was attending college, and was ultimately disqualified from military service except in a time of war or national emergency for medical reasons (he suffered from asthma).

Similarly, Trump received four student deferments, then was disqualified from serving except in a time of war or national emergency after a medical examination found he had bone spurs in both heels. We confirmed Trump's deferment history via Selective Service records obtained from the U.S. National Archives by The Smoking Gun in 2011.

1964: Donald Trump became eligible for the draft on his 18th birthday (June 14, 1964) and registered with the Selective Service System 10 days later. He received the first of his four 2-S (college) deferments on July 28 of that year.

1965: Trump received his second college deferment on Dec. 14, 1965.

1966: Trump's 1965 student deferment expired and he was reclassified 1-A (available for military service) on Nov. 22, 1966. However, his 2-S deferment was renewed the following month.

1967: No record found.

1968: Trump obtained his fourth and final college deferment on Jan. 16, 1968. After graduating from Wharton the following July, he was once again reclassified 1-A. Trump underwent an armed forces physical examination with a result of "DISQ" (disqualified) on Sept. 19. On that basis, he was reclassified 1-Y (qualified for service only in time of war or national emergency) on Oct. 15.

According to a statement from Trump's 2016 campaign, the disqualification stemmed from his having bone spurs in both heels:

While attending the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Finance, Mr. Trump received a minor medical deferment for bone spurs on both heels of his feet. The medical deferment was expected to be short-term and he was therefore entered in the military draft lottery, where he received an extremely high number, 356 out of 365.

However, the precise details of that 1968 medical exemption remain unclear and controversial, and most draft-related government medical records from the Vietnam War era were not preserved.

1972: Despite the supposedly "short-term" nature of Trump's disqualifying physical condition, on Feb. 17, 1972, he was reclassified 4-F (not qualified for military service), presumably due to the fact that the 1-Y classification had been abolished the previous year.


Eder, Steve and Dave Philipps.   "Donald Trump's Draft Deferments: Four for College, One for Bad Feet."     The New York Times.   1 August 2016.

Rogers, David.   "Trump Evades Specifics on His Draft Deferment."     Politico.   20 July 2015.

The Smoking Gun.   "Deferments Helped Trump Dodge Vietnam."     18 July 2015.

Eder, Steve.   "Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam?"     The New York Times.   26 December 2018.