Before becoming the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump was already well known for being a businessman and appearing on TV, but did he also have a military career?
During the Vietnam war, young American men were drafted into the military. As a teenager, Donald Trump attended a military academy and during his 20s, he was eligible for military draft but was not forced to serve because he was studying at college and had a medical issue.
Read more about Donald Trump’s life before presidency, including his experience with the military.
Before Becoming President
As US President, Donald Trump is a globally recognizable figure, but he was well-known long before his presidency.
Born in 1946, he is the son of Fred Trump, a millionaire businessman. At the age of 13, as a result of misbehavior, he was sent to a military academy, where discipline was vital.
“I was mostly interested in making mischief,” Trump recalls of this era. “I liked to stir things up and I liked to test people.”
“I did very well under the military system…I was one of the top guys at the whole school,” Trump says of his time in the academy. In his final year, he was given the rank of captain and according to his former peers, was strict with the lower-ranking officers.
After studying at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump followed in his father’s footsteps and began a career in real estate. “I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars,” he explained.
He added that, compared to the wealth that he had built, the loan “Isn’t very much.”
Although he is one of four siblings, he became the main controller of his father’s business. Under his leadership, the company was renamed ‘Trump Organization’.
His father died at the age of just 43, and Trump credits him as being an “Inspiration.”
Trump expanded the business from residential projects to more elaborate schemes including hotel renovations. ‘Trump’ named properties began to be created, including the famous Trump Tower in New York.
Besides property, he branched out into TV, becoming a part-owner of the global beauty pageant ‘Miss Universe’. ‘The Apprentice’, the reality show that pits business contestants against each other, launched in 2003, with Trump taking the starring role in the show.
According to Forbes, his net worth is around $2.1 billion.
Outside of his career, Trump married Ivana Zelnickova in 1977. The couple went on to have three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, who now play instrumental roles in American politics and help to run Trump Organization.
The marriage ended in 1990. Three years later, Trump married Marla Maples, and the two share one daughter, Tiffany.
In 2005, Trump married his third wife and future first lady, Melania Knauss. They have a son, Baron, together.
In 1967, during the Vietnam war, more than 300,000 young men were conscripted into the military. At the time, Donald Trump was aged 21.
It is thought that around 27 million Americans, including Trump, were eligible for draft, though more than half of these found exemptions or were deferred or disqualified. In the early years of the conflict in Vietnam, Trump was attending college at the University of Pennsylvania, which meant he was exempt from being called to military service.
In 1968, however, he graduated and at the age of 22, could have been drafted. Ultimately, he was not required to serve in the military as he was diagnosed with a medical issue.
Bone spurs, which a doctor believed Trump to suffer from, can sometimes be cured with only stretching, but in some circumstances requires surgery. “Over a period of time, it healed up,” he said afterward.
Other political figures have also avoided military draft. Joe Biden, like Trump, was exempt during his years in college, and after graduating, was ruled out because he suffered from asthma.