The Atlantic

What Trump’s Draft Deferments Reveal

Trump’s story is surprisingly typical of his generation—and that’s the real scandal.
Source: Jim Young / Reuters

President Donald Trump’s Vietnam-era draft deferments made headlines again last week when The New York Times reported that, as a favor to Trump’s father, a Queens podiatrist may have written the letter that led to Trump’s I-Y medical deferment. That the story dropped on the same day as Trump made his first visit as commander in chief to American military forces in a conflict zone certainly makes for some interesting optics. But Trump is hardly unique. By the time Trump received his deferment, young men from privileged backgrounds had come to expect they would be able to avoid active-duty military service. His story says less about the president as an individual than about the choices America has made as a society about who should bear the burden of military service.

More than 15 million men of Trump’s generation sought to avoid active-duty military service, including , , , and . Up to 60 percent of men in the Vietnam generation took active measures, “an unsurprising nothingburger.”

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