"You dodged the draft!": Khizr Khan and combat veterans slam Trump for jokes about receiving a Purple Heart

"I've always wanted to get the real Purple Heart. This was much easier," Trump said after a man handed him his

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 3, 2016 2:23PM (EDT)

Ghazala and Khizr Khan; Donald Trump   (Reuters/Gary Cameron/Scott Audette/Photo montage by Salon)
Ghazala and Khizr Khan; Donald Trump (Reuters/Gary Cameron/Scott Audette/Photo montage by Salon)

On Monday, a New York Times report highlighted Donald Trump's five draft deferments during the Vietnam War — including one for bad feet — yet one day later the Republican presidential candidate was receiving a Purple Heart from a U.S. veteran who did actually serve.

"He said, 'That's my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you,'" Trump told the crowd at a campaign rally in Ashburn, Virginia, Tuesday.

"And I said, 'Man that's like big stuff. I've always wanted to get the real Purple Heart.' This was much easier," Trump joked as he invited the actual veteran on stage.

When Trump has previously been pressed on his absence from the war of his youth, the businessman has expressed little shame or regret in skipping out on the battlefield.

"I was fortunate, in a sense, because I was not a believer in the Vietnam War," Trump told ABC's Martha Raddatz back in July 2015. "I got a very, very high draft number."

Trump's seemingly unserious nature in accepting the precious honor of a Purple Heart on Tuesday from a veteran irked others, including the Gold Star parents of a fallen U.S. Muslim soldier who have actively spoke out against Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy proposals.

“You had your chance! You escaped! You dodged the draft," Khizr Khan, whose son was also a Purple Heart recipient, said to Trump on CNN Tuesday evening. "And now you want an easy Purple Heart in your pocket?"

"Put that Purple Heart back on that person's chest!"

"You had the time. You did not serve," Khan told Trump. "You should have pinned that back to that veteran's chest and should have hugged him and thanked him."

Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat, tweeted a picture of her own Purple Heart and reminded Trump that there was “nothing easy about it”:

In an email to supporters, the combat veteran locked in a tight Senate race against incumbent Republican Mark Kirk further addressed Trump's dismissive attitude.

"I earned a Purple Heart in combat and I know many others who have as well. It's not something anyone 'wanted to get.' We earned them because our country asked us to," she wrote. "It's no surprise Donald Trump accepted a Purple Heart the 'easier' way today because that's the story of his life. He never sacrifices. He always has things handed to him."

U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and husband of Bristol Palin, Dakota Meyer tweeted his disapproval of Trump's continued attacks on the Khans Tuesday afternoon:

"I will continue to remind you what your behavior for a whole year had been," Mr. Khan said to Trump on CNN. "I am not going to continue to appear on television. It is very disturbing. Because it is emotionally disturbing, it is family-wise disturbing. But I wanted to say this today."

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Combat Donald Trump Election 2016 Elections 2016 Khizr Khan Purple Heart Veterans Video