Sound Off: Is Military School a Replacement for Service?


Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said this to the author of an upcoming biography:

  1. That he “always felt that I was in the military” when he attended the New York Military Academy prep school
  2. And that, while at prep school, he got “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

The New York Times got an advance copy of Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success and author Michael D’Antonio also provided the newspaper with transcripts of some of his interviews with Trump.

Trump, who seems to have emerged unscathed from the firestorm unleashed by his attacks on Vietnam war hero Senator John McCain, sat out that war because of deferments and then a lottery draft number of 356 out of 366. Trump still says he understands military life.

Despite sitting out Vietnam because of deferments followed by a high draft lottery number of 356 out of 366, Mr. Trump said that he endured the rigors of real military life: “My number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number. Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people.”

Can spending your teenage years at boarding school really give someone a sense of what it’s like to serve their country? Are the retired military men who run the training at military school required to dumb down the experience for their students or do the 14-year-0ld kids get the full boot camp experience and responsibility of actual service? Sound off!

  • Didn’t some prep school type try applying for a VA disability a few years back? and wasn’t he successful? He’d ‘wounded’ his foot playing football.

    • Tony

      Quite right; I remember watching the actual hearing on this – a discussion about VA benefit abusers and it was a combat-vet Senator that called the dude out.

      • znut

        Kayne West is going to be his running mate

  • KenLand

    That is the dumbest thing I heard in a long time. This is like stolen valor. I went to a military prep school and we focused on going to school, making formations, and D&C. He is so narcissistic that he thinks his training as a pimply teen is better than our AD personnel.

  • George Cassidy

    This is over the top, even for him. He goes to a school for bad boys and then thinks he’s Sergeant Rock.

  • guest

    Given the period in which he attended and the actual prep school, he may be right. The government/courts have forced a lot of PC and gender equality on military schools in the past 20 years. Besides being active duty doesn’t mean much. W. Bush spend a period of AD time during his extensive training, John Kerry was an AD war hero, LBJ was AD, Jimmy Carter was AD. How did them being AD help them govern better, neither Kerry or Carter were friends of the military.

    • skypilot1992

      Add Bush Senior too. A combat Navy pilot. Under his administration massive cuts to the standing forces…..Gulf War had an end date built into it……the fiscal year.

    • USN Retired

      Guest, this is NOT a question of did military service help them govern better. It’s a question of service to your country. Should a Presidential candidate talk about anyone’s war service when they never served and then add they went to some military prep school like they can relate?
      I would prefer if he didn’t bring it up at all.

  • Paul

    “Disability system for veterans strays far from its official purpose
    By Alan Zarembo November 16, 2014, 6:00 AM

    The room fell silent for seven minutes as Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth upbraided a government contractor..
    “Shame on you,” the congresswoman scolded Braulio Castillo at an oversight hearing in Washington, D.C., last year, accusing the business owner of gaming the veterans disability system.
    Castillo had filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after learning that a disability rating would give his technology company preferential standing for federal contracts.
    His disability: A foot injury suffered playing football at the U.S. Military Preparatory Academy in 1984.
    Though the injury didn’t prevent him from going on to play quarterback at the University of San Diego, the VA rated him 30% disabled — good for $450 a month, tax-free.
    Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq in 2004 when her helicopter was shot down, noted that her severely damaged right arm was rated only 20%.”

    • retired

      only 50% and higher can get disability payments tax free.

      • Chuck

        retired you better check again. Any disability payments from the VA are tax free. You lose what ever amount you are going to get from the VA out of your retirement pay but then you get what the VA gives you tax free.

      • Skypilot1992

        Actually military retired pay and VA Disability Compensation are now paid without offset. System chgd several yrs ago.

    • Pony Soldier

      If he was at the USMA Prep School as the story implies, he was an active duty enlisted man. The Prep School is an Army program, located on a military base — at that time I believe it was Ft. Monmouth — to prepare young high school graduates for entry into the United States Military Academy at West Point. Therefore, if he was infact injured on active duty, football injury or not, he’s entitled to the assistance, in my opinion.

  • bill

    I know a lot of farm boys who are better trained for survival than some of the military special forces like the rangers. Farm boys know how to shoot, prepare food, stay warm or cool, and have respect for their fellow Americans. These scumbags coming out of the military now just wants to see how many free benefits they can receive by staging medical problems such as ptsd. I respect most military guys but some are nothing but a zero instead of a hero. If you’re a hard working guy then this doesn’t apply to you.

    • Chuck

      Spoken like someone that has never served a day in his life. Would love to see someone right off the farm last a day in Marine Raider school or Hell week for the SEALS. Why run down the people that stand a post to protect the US Constitution?

      • Chuck

        I need to add after what Donald said about John Mccain I wonder how many hours he spent in an A-4 flying over North Viet Nam. What a piece of work he is saying he wasnt a hero.

    • Clint

      Survival on a farm isn’t surviving a mission or firefight. I know farmers too. They know FARMING. Not wilderness survival.

    • Ken USN(RET)

      I did not realize that farming was a war related occupation based on the delusions of someone reading novels and living a military life in their minds. You need help and a clue into reality.

  • skypilot1992

    I am a NAVY ROTC sourced officer (since retired). Regular college classes combined with ROTC stuff and summer training (6wks?). Except in the summer, life was in dorms, apts, or frats.

    I’ve met guys who were sent to military schools (high schools…not VMI etc.) and I’d say they had it tougher than I. Now the academies? Whole different level.

    So yes, Trump has some appropriate and applicable experiences and probably has a feel for military life.

    Just an aside….much to my chagrin…..
    Nixon was a Navy guy too…add him to the list.

    The only president in the last 50 yrs who took care of the military and naval services was Reagan…imho.

    • S. Morrison

      Reagan was an actor that never served……….

      • Skypilot1992

        Uhhhh, wrong. You could easily have double checked before going off half-cocked and misfired.

        Read from the following cite–

      • Pat McGroyne

        Sounds like another disgruntled draft dodger or general all around wanna-be know-it-all liberal. Maybe we should ask him ” Slick Willy, is that you ?”

      • Bobby

        Right. George W. Bush’s daddy got him into the Texas Air Guard to stay out of Vietnam. Reagan did nothing but make training films. The biggest phony around. AND he sold weapons to Iran and got 241 Marines killed in Beirut.

  • skypilot1992

    BTW I did not edit c l a s s e s. Robot text editors are c l a s s I c examples of tech gone wild. Will see if this gets caught too.

  • BixlerB

    he got “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

    So much bull it warrants few words.

  • Ted Hrpler

    I’m retired military, but also Jr ROTC Graduate from Massanutten Mil Acad JROTC was significantly greater then those who were never in the militaty. Trumps correct!!

    • Guest

      Read for comprehension, Ted. He’s not saying he’s better than someone who was never in the military; he’s saying he’s better than most of the people who went into the military.- despite the fact that he was never actually *in* the military. Still think he’s right?

  • Jzeno_

    as AD navy enlisted, I can believe what he is saying. I spent 4 years in Army JROTC and can say with full confidence that I received more relevant military training from my AI and SAI in High School then I have in the military. and guaranteed I am one of them farm boys mentioned above, but still I feel like today AD military does no receive good hands on military training. instead we receive these death by power point and online GMT that teaches people how to click faster and pay less attention. the great part about JROTC was if you asked questions the old guys had a war story and then taught you enthusiastically, today if you ask a question they want to know why you don’t know it and call you dumb. I believe that trump has every right to say he received more training. and that he felt like he served his country. I did from my JROTC experience too.

    notice how he never mentioned that he served the military or went to war, or takes credit for being a war hero. that is stolen valor and that is wrong. simply expressing an opinion is not. and is allowed in this great country we live in.

    • Clint

      No way in hell a high school kid has more relevant military training than I. But then I’m a Marine. What constitutes relevant military training? If you’re active Navy you should know better, or you’re fit to look for the Humvee keys. And if you think you served our country by going to high school you should probably start looking for those keys. It may take you a while. Boot.

      • Jzeno

        Well there marine, my military relevant training would be drill, leadership, orienteering, artical training, and even down to marksmanship. I have been through your corprals course and your Sergeants leadership courses and its the same information as my po3 and po2 courses aka (dont rape and dont haze), all the leadership courses i recieved in my highschool where much better then what iv recieved on AD and that goes for all of my other relavent training now. And army,navy,airforce, MARAINES, and even cousties are lazy and unmotivated except for the select few, and unwilling to learn(i work in a joint forces cmd). Obviously if you are on this post you are not unmotivated or lazy, im just saying military training is not up to par. I have recieved allot of different styles of training in life and think that military training needs to be revamped. If your military experience has differed then mine thats fine im glad you have recieved better training and hope you can put that to good use. But to many people are now untrained and unable to recieve quality training.

  • armyairborne72

    My response, Bunk!

  • A jerry

    This up is so in to himself that it makes me sick. Just who does he think he is ,and that why I would never vote for him if he was the only one. The bible says that pride goes before destruction don,t vote for him what ever you do.

  • Frank Burns

    Did his time at a prep school include the opportunity to go to war. Hell no and that is why his experience has no significance. Did he get hot meals and a warm and dry bed every night? Yes he did and those that serve don’t at times. His assertion is full of holes.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Is this Frank Melton Burns?

  • Josh

    I am still in the Army. yes its not the same as it was seven years ago.. or 15 for that matter. Most people I know don’t know squat except how to do “there” job. Yes you are a.. communication expert or a “engineer” who by the way have to be trained be SEABEES! to know what they do because the Navy was better Land Engineers then the Army! some people do know a bit NCOs just know how to take care of soldiers. Or hide from work. Most Officers should know more then Trump but not private fuzzy who got kicked out for doing drugs.

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    I went to ROTC military academy for four years, and I learned how to march, do close-order drill, to disassemble and clean an M1 rifle, some military history and went on field exercises where I was taught how to apply tactics to various situations squads encounter in war, BUT, I never was at risk of going to war, was never putting my safety on the line for the word of my seniors or the performance of my juniors, and when I did actually enter the real military, I realized that the most important thing I never really had in ROTC was responsibility, for myself and eventually for others.

  • Kantzler

    Trump is a windbag who is trying to make up for what is a nice selling point for any politician: honorable military service. While prep-school ROTC gives a leg-up in starting out in actual service, it doesn’t cut the mustard as “having served,” not hardly, and trying to make it so only makes the Donald sound as pathetic as he really is.

  • Leon Suchorski

    In the first place, only those who have had ROTC, or military prep, AND the military, can compare these. I have, and will admit that they were nothing compared to my Marine experiences, and then I went to war. And ROTC, nor prep had anything to compare to that. Only the Marines had it for me. The only thing that time before the Corps taught me, was to be a skate. Make that a super skate.

  • USN Retired

    Oh please! Just stop! Did he raise his hand to support and defend? He was a rich kid that was sent to a military prep school. He is a coward that is taking credit for training he thinks is just as honorable as military service. “Just like” and “I feel like I served”, is not service to your country… And that dude that claimed VA disability should be repaying all that money back plus be in jail for stolen valor.

  • Richard

    I am a Civie, I don’t have clue if he is right or wrong. Once I lose 100 pounds and finish college, I can go find out.

    • Dubya

      Be careful, and be safe.

  • John Patterson

    Prep School Military I’ve met several graduates they are from wealthy families who wish to have peace and quiet while junior out grows his teen angst. The grads I know grew up to wealthy self centered folks working in the family business.

  • LIAM


  • EODBuellrider


    If you’ve never actually taken the time out of your busy life to serve in our Armed Forces… How would you be qualified to compare your prep school to the US Military?

    Reminds me of a couple West Pointers I know who bragged about how much more they learned about being soldiers in college than us lowly enlisted soldiers did in basic. Yeah, we didn’t have the benefits of pillow fights in basic.

    • A123

      It would seem rather obvious that the majority of the commenters on this issue have never attended a military academy. Holding a distain to people more fortunate than themselves.


    And equally so, a third grade education is the equivalent of ans AA degree…can’t believe some of you agree with this clown.

  • retired FA LTC

    First a couple of comments about military schools/academies in general. While a military school may get a few kids who have had difficulties, most cadets are not bad kids. Those who are might make it through one year but then will not return. In my experience, the cadets are not the children of veery rich people. My father was a CWO3 helicopter pilot – my mother got a full time job to help pay for my four years about the same time as The Dump was at NYMA. I’m an army brat; I went four years to a four year military school, and then took ROTC in college to go on to 27 years in all components of the army to retire as a field artillery lieutenant colonel. Based on that, The Dump is full of it.

  • wtpworrier

    I tried to tell everybody this man is nutts!!…more Military training in prep school than somebody in the Military?…man, how stupid can you get?…And this wack job want to be President????…no way in hell!

  • Dale

    I would say this, not all “military prep schools” are “created equal” or even close to equal some like VMI and a few others are feeders for the academies. Others are feeders for ROTC programs and often have ROTC as part of their names others are just “boarding schools” where they happen to wear uniforms and that is as far as it goes.

    The movie from way back when I think it was called “toy soldiers” comes to mind.

    They can be called “military prep schools” but it is “prep” for college, nothing more nothing less not ROTC not OCS just college like Choate where JFK went or the mythical “Baird” where they also sort of where “uniforms” just not “military style uniforms”

  • shooshanre

    It is not the same, but from the standpoint of regimentation in the school and in the service, it might give a person the feeling of having been through the military. We are not talking about combat and deployment just the aspect of the regimentation that you live with.

  • Vietnam Vet

    Military Prep School and 5 deferments is not even close to active military.

  • Dave Whelan

    This is probably the best reason for every veteran to vote for anyone except the Donald should he somehow become a candidate for President. What a total loser!

  • Niles Slater

    There is no WAY IN **** that THE DUMP can compare going to a military prep school is the same type of training that those who ACTUALLY serve in the military. I doubt that he spent 96 hours in the field with little sleep (if any) & very little time to eat a full meal. Once again THE DUMP is disparaging those of us that have served and those that are still serving.

  • freeJT

    So I am a graduate of NYMA and also a veteran of the U.S.M.C.! That military academy experience for me was very comparable to my time in service. We had JROTC courses, Trained with weapons (not to the extent while on active duty), We drilled! There was a lot of similarities including the O.C.S. course I attended there. While I attended NYMA I got to spend a fair amount of time on the campus of West Point, and NYMA was run very similarly!

  • james

    This guy is a loser. His dad needed to get him gone so he could run around with the young ladies. Trump did nothing has no training and has always had his food etc given to him. Until he has lived off MRE’s and had to ration water. and lived through the conditions the military puts you in he is nothing more than a wanna be soldier. And to think this numb skull is leading the GOP wow says alot about the party!!

  • Fort Hood-311

    If Military Schools are the basics of how he feels about the Military then why haven’t either of his Sons or his daughter attended?……..THOUGHT SO!

  • bbabbitt

    Not even close! I have been to Military School and have been in the Army. There is a HUGE difference. Just ask any of the ROTC kids that might have fortunately survived Vietnam.

  • Jay

    I spent five years as a cadet officer in Civil Air Patrol and went out on numerous SAR missions. I’d say I had more military training than Trump. The military is the military; nothing else can be like it.

  • KenLand

    I suppose he learned tactical, technical, and strategic planning.

  • CW2 L

    Mr. Trump, thank you for your service! I’m sure your attending military prep school made our country safer.

  • Colonel USA (ret.)

    Yes. When one considers the spirit and commitment of the student along with the calibre of the school. I was in the Army and Army Reserve for thirty years. During that time I met many who now proudly claim the title “veteran” today, yet they despised, and acted accordingly, their time in service.

  • I read the New York Times article about Trump’s new book, and its opinions of military service. If he disagrees on an order, he’d get an Article 15 non-judicial punishment or perhaps a summary or special court martial. If he hit anyone, he would be up on charges. All that would make it easy to give him LESS than a Honorable Discharge. Maybe a General under honorable conditions or the old Undesireable discharge, the General under other than honorable conditions.

  • USNRetired

    That’s not even a valid question.

  • Jeanne


  • Jack Simmons

    His trashing of honorable military personnel and his substitution of school for service confirms that he would be worse than the Chamberlain of our time, Obama. Trump has succeeded in getting needed conversations going but, like our organizer of inner-city welfare recipients, he is far from capable of leading this nation or securing it.

  • Joe Marine

    The main criteria is: was he subject to the UCMJ? Of course NOT—which means is WASN’T the military!
    More idiot statements by Trump the Tramp.

  • JohnD

    No, he went there because it is a boarding school and got him out of the parents, lifestyle until he could,go,to,college,and inherit the family fortune! He has no,clue on selfless service! The military does not issue silver spoons to,anyone below the rank of general! Silver bottle openers for,CSMs!

  • Anon

    Can’t stand that butthole.

    He is literally the most narcissistic idiot on the face of the planet.

    Until I see him waist deep in a swamp with an 80lb ruck, humpin a 240 in the field, I’ll continue to have absolutely 0 respect for that piece of crap and his toupee.

  • TeXan

    This is a good question. The Donald undoubtedly has military experience.

  • davec.0121

    No, it’s not. And to say so reveals vast reservoirs of both ignorance and arrogance on Trump’s part. This is an insult to all veterans, particularly Viet Nam vets who fought in a war he skillfully evaded.