VA Chief Lied, Said He Was in Special Forces
Robert McDonald apologizes for remark: 'I have no excuse'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 24, 2015 6:21 AM CST
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald speaks to journalists Dec. 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)

(Newser) – Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald last year took over a department facing no small amount of scandal—and now he's stirred up controversy of his own. It started when he was being taped by CBS while speaking with a homeless veteran in Los Angeles, the Huffington Post reports. The man said he'd been in special forces, to which the former Procter & Gamble CEO, who's a military veteran himself, said, "Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!" But he wasn't: He spent most of his service in the 82nd Airborne Division. "I have no excuse," McDonald tells the Huffington Post. "I was not in special forces."

In a statement to the Military Times, McDonald notes that the comment was "inaccurate, and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement. I have great respect for those who have served our nation in special forces." He explained the situation to the Huffington Post: "I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly" to the man saying he had been in special forces. He says he had "no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is." The White House says it takes McDonald "at his word." But just last week, the Military Times notes, McDonald said on Meet the Press that 60 VA employees had recently been let go over the hospital scandal; he then walked back the claim, saying just eight had been fired.