Andrew Longman explains how candidate got out of Vietnam service...
The Mormons declared their young men to be missionaries, officially “ministers of religion,” and, as such, gave them opportunity to avoid the draft. Not all could – the Selective Service limited the numbers of these deferments that were allowed – but Romney, being from Michigan, which had few Mormons, and being well-connected, was able to snag one. In trade for two years of proselytizing in France, Romney got out of Vietnam.
A lawsuit was filed against the Mormons because of sweetheart deals like Mitt got. What most non-Mormon denominations don’t realize is that the Mormons require a two-year mandatory service trip for 100 percent of Mormon young men. The lawsuit said the Mormons were essentially abusing the religious exemption in that most other faiths were granted these waivers only for lifelong clergy positions such as a Catholic priest or Protestant pastor. But the Mormons mass-produced exemptions for their young men right in the middle of their prime war-fighting years.
Mitt Romney, surprisingly, has been on both sides of this issue. He has said, “I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there. …” He has also said, “I was not planning on signing up for the military. It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam.” You could perhaps say that he wanted the draft but didn’t inhale. After years of student and Mormon deferments, he entered the lottery and won; Romney never served.