Donald Trump held up a Purple Heart Tuesday at his rally in Virginia and said that while he "always wanted" the honor, obtaining a copy was "easier."
The businessman, who has never served in the military, recalled his exchange with the retired military member who gave him the Purple Heart minutes before appearing on stage.
"A man came up to me and he handed me his Purple Heart," Trump said. "I said to him, 'Is that like the real one, or is that a copy?'"
Trump was impressed when the veteran assured him that the badge was real.
"I said, man, that's like, big stuff," he said. "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart."
"This was much easier."
His remark was met with muted laughter. (NBC News's Katy Tur said the man who gave Trump the Purple Heart told her it was only a copy.)
Trump then read the veteran's name, "Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman" off of the badge, and brought him on stage to chants of "U-S-A!"
He took photos with Dorfman and shook his hand, but told the audience that the service member did not wish to make any remarks of his own.
"I'd like you to just keep saying what you've been saying," Trump recalled Dorfman telling him.
Trump has faced criticism in recent days over his attacks on Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim-American Army captain who died in Iraq in 2004. Khan denounced Trump at the Democratic National Convention for his stance on immigration, including his proposed Muslim ban.
"You have sacrificed nothing and no one," Khan said to Trump last week.
The businessman then accused Khan's wife, who was standing by his side, of being forbidden to speak.
"She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me," Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
He also pushed back on the notion that he hadn't made any sacrifices.
"I think I've made a lot of sacrifices," Trump said. "I've worked very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs."
The Veterans of Foreign Wars and Republican lawmakers have denounced Trump's behavior.
The businessman deferred the draft four times on account of student status, and on one occasion due to bone spurs in his heels.