While I am no fan of Donald Trump, let’s put some context on this. 21 million American men were draft eligible by age during the Vietnam War. Of those, three million served in the military and two million of those served in Vietnam in postings directly related to the war.
The important fact is that 18 million men made other arrangements: among them Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
I am not saying any of them were right, but I see Donald Trump as one of 18 million men who managed to find a way to avoid service. There were standard routes to do so. Among conservatives, the National Guard was often an easy out – as in W. Bush case. But in liberal New York, n one could find a National Guard opening for love or money. New York did have a group of doctors who were willing to declare young men unfit for service – mostly on psychological grounds, but Fred Trump found one who was willing to write up bone spurs.
There was no public opposition to the 18 million; it was just a quiet little fact of life. The draft snared farm kids, poor kids, African-Americans, Hispanics, those without connection or advantages. But Donald Trump was like so many others, let’s keep this is context.
While right wing revisionists have created an history of anti-war protestors mistreating the Vietnam Vets, their real victimization came at the hands of a Congress that was unwilling to spend anywhere close to the funds on veterans benefits that were showered on those who served in WW II or Korea. But those veterans were a cross section of all of America, not the underprivileged who got caught up in the Vietnam era draft. President Reagan began the rehabilitation of the Vietnam army, at least in words, thought he still wouldn’t spend on them.
All in all, a fairly shameful history but Donald Trump was just one more self-interested young man among eighteen million doing what virtually all of his peers did.