Draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”
In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around.
“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump said in a video that resurfaced Tuesday on Buzzfeed, “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
It wasn’t the only time the Republican frontrunner for president would liken his personal life to wartime service: Trump has claimed that his military-themed boarding school education was essentially equivalent to having being trained in the military.
When Trump had his chance to join the military and fight in Vietnam, he did not take it. Instead, the rich kid got multiple student deferments from the draft and a medical deferment. Meanwhile, men like John McCain were being tortured as prisoners of war, but Trump has said that is dishonorable. ’
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said of McCain last year. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
Trump has wrapped his campaign in veterans issues, routinely lamenting that they’ve been treated “terribly.” The candidate even held a fundraiser for veterans groups in lieu of attending a debate just before the Iowa caucuses.
Since running for office, Trump has made a show of fundraising for veterans—offering veterans groups six-figures to be props at campaign rallies. But when vets groups have stood up to him, refusing to be dragged into the campaign, scores of Trump fans have sent them vile and harassing messages.
It’s in line with how Trump treated veterans before he started running for president.
In the 1980s, Trump tried to have disabled veteran street vendors thrown off Fifth Avenue, accusing the Vietnam-era soldiers of ruining how the street in front of Trump Tower looked. Before his presidential campaign, Trump’s charitable foundation gave more to the Clintons than to veterans organizations.
Trump has suggested he would be tremendous for veterans if elected president, but his efforts so far have been questionable.
In July 2015, Trump announced that he would be setting up a hotline for veterans to share their stories about the need to reform the VA. Today, a call to the hotline leads merely to a voicemail box, which instructs the caller to send them an email.