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President Joe Biden did receive five draft deferments, but they were granted because he was a student, first in college and then law school.
Later, Biden underwent a physical exam and received a Selective Service 1-Y classification — which specified that he could be drafted only in a national emergency — because of his asthma.
But some social media users claim that despite his active lifestyle, Biden used health problems as an excuse to dodge the military draft for the Vietnam War.
"Lifeguard/football player Joe Biden got five draft deferments for asthma during Vietnam," a Sept. 16 Facebook post claimed.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Biden did receive five draft deferments — but they were granted first because he was a college student, and later a law student. Following a 1968 physical exam, he received a different classification exempting him from service because of his asthma.
Biden’s deferments first came under scrutiny in 2008, when he was running for vice president as Barack Obama’s running mate. That year, Obama’s campaign representatives released Biden’s Selective Service records to The Associated Press.
The AP reported that Biden received deferments first in the early 1960s because he was an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware, and then because he was a law student at Syracuse University. He received his last student deferment in January 1968.
Asthma didn’t come into play until later, as campaign spokesperson David Wade explained in 2008.
"As a result of a physical exam on April 5, 1968, Joe Biden was classified 1-Y and disqualified from service because of asthma as a teenager," Wade told reporters.
1-Y meant that a person could be drafted only "in time of war or a national emergency." The Selective Service System terminated that classification in 1971.
A Facebook post says, "Lifeguard/football player Joe Biden got five draft deferments for asthma during Vietnam."
The post implies that despite his active lifestyle, Biden used health problems as an excuse to dodge the military draft for the Vietnam War.
Biden did receive five deferments, but they were granted because he was a student, with the last one granted in January 1968. Later, in April 1968, he underwent a medical exam and was then given a 1-Y classification because of his asthma as a teenager.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
The Daily Pennsylvanian, A look back at Joe Biden's days as an athlete, Aug. 20, 2020
The Washington Post, What a lifeguarding job on the black side of Wilmington taught Joe Biden about race, July 12, 2019
Facebook post, Sept. 16, 2022
Toronto Star, Deferments, asthma kept Biden out of Vietnam, Aug. 31, 2008
The Associated Press, Biden deferred, disqualified from Vietnam duty, Sep. 1, 2008
Selective Service System, Return to the Draft, accessed Sep. 21, 2022
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