As Vietnam draft loomed, New York podiatrist diagnosed bone spurs in young Donald Trump as a favour to his father, doctor’s daughters say
- The daughters of Larry Braunstein told The New York Times their father provided the 1968 diagnosis that helped Donald Trump avoid the Vietnam war draft
- Braunstein was a tenant of Fred Trump at the time of the diagnosis
Daughters of a deceased podiatrist say it’s “family lore” that their father helped Donald Trump, long before he became president, avoid being drafted for military service in Vietnam, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The daughters of Larry Braunstein, Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel, told The Times that their father – as a “favour” – provided the 1968 diagnosis of bone spurs that helped Trump get a medical exemption. In return, the doctor received access to Fred Trump, Trump’s father and owner of the Queens building in which Larry Braunstein’s practice operated.
“If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favour that he got,” Elysa Braunstein told the Times, referring to the president’s father.
The Times could not find documentation from the family, the doctor who bought Braunstein’s practice, or the National Archives to corroborate the daughters’ recollection. The White House did not respond to the Times’ requests to follow up.
Larry Braunstein died in 2007.
Trump received four deferments from the draft while studying at Fordham and the University of Pennsylvania, although he’d been found fit for duty during an examination in 1966, and had been a football and basketball player at New York Military Academy.
After graduation, Trump was eligible to be drafted.
Trump’s exposure to the draft, however, didn’t last long. Two months later, on September 17, 1968, he reported for an armed forces physical examination and was medically disqualified, according to the ledger from his local Selective Service System draft board in Jamaica, New York, now in the custody of the National Archives.
The ledger does not detail why Trump failed the exam – the Selective Service destroyed all medical records and individual files after the draft ended in 1973 and the military converted to an all-volunteer force.
In 2015, Trump and his presidential campaign said he received the medical deferment because he had bone spurs in his feet. But rather than clear up all questions about why he did not serve in the military during the Vietnam era, they gave shifting accounts that were at odds with the few remaining documents in his Selective Service file.
Trump has given limited information about the nature of his medical ailment from 1968 that left him classified as “1-Y”, or unqualified for duty except in the case of a national emergency.
Another doctor reached by The Times suggested that Braunstein “spoke very highly” of the Trumps because they worked with him on the rent for his office space.
The daughters said their father was initially proud to have helped someone famous but later grew tired of Donald Trump’s tabloid and reality-TV antics.
The doctor had been a Democrat, and the daughters say they are as well. They also told The Times that they are not fans of Trump.