Joe Biden Got Five Draft Deferments Over the Course of His Time in School


Mar. 31 2021, Updated 11:09 a.m. ET

Joe and Jill Biden
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Military service used to be a necessity for any person who wanted to be president, but that's rapidly changing. The last three people to hold the job never served in the military and were able to be elected in spite of that fact. Now that President Joe Biden has been in the job for a couple of months, some are beginning to wonder how he avoided military service, and why he wasn't drafted during the Vietnam War. 

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Did President Biden get draft deferments?

Prior to the election, rumors began to circulate on Facebook that Biden had deferred the draft on a number of occasions during the Vietnam War. The post went viral in part because conservatives saw it as a way to rebut Democratic claims that former President Trump had dodged the draft. Biden, who was born in 1942, could have been drafted into service in the war. 

biden draft deferment
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Although he was the right age, Biden never served because he received a number of deferrals from the draft during his time in college. He first received deferrals while an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, and later during his time in law school at Syracuse University. Biden eventually received a medical exam in 1968, after which he received a "1-Y" classification. 

That classification meant that Biden could not be drafted unless there was a national emergency. In 2008, when Biden was seeking the presidency in the Democratic primary, he released his selective service record to the press. At the time, his records said that he was disqualified from service because of asthma that he suffered from as a teenager. 

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Former President Trump also received numerous draft deferments.

Although Trump is four years younger than Biden, he is also part of the generation that might have been drafted to fight in Vietnam. Like Biden, he received four deferments from the draft while he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. Trump also went through a medical exam in 1968 and was also given the "1-Y" classification following the exam because of bone spurs in his heels. 

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Respect for the military was an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Although neither Biden or Trump personally served in the military the issue of respect for the military dominated a large chunk of the 2020 presidential campaign. The issue stemmed largely from comments that Trump had reportedly made that many felt were disrespectful to the millitary. In reporting from The Atlantic, Trump said that those who died in the military were "losers" and "suckers." 

The Biden campaign used those comments to suggest that Trump didn't have the respect for military service that was necessary to serve as commander in chief. It was just one of many issues that were raised over the course of a long and brutal campaign, and it's unclear if any one issue, including the coronavirus pandemic, proved to be decisive in Trump's ultimate defeat in November. Still, his comments about the military probably didn't help him. 

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