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VA Secretary Robert McDonald apologizes for false claim he served in special forces

The Veterans Affairs secretary admitted that he wasn't telling the truth when he told a homeless veteran that he served in the special forces.

By Kate Stanton
VA Secretary Robert McDonald apologizes for false claim he served in special forces
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has apologized for making false claims about his military record. File Photo by Dennis Brack/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON , Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has apologized for making a false claim about his military record during a televised meeting with homeless veterans.

In a CBS report that aired Jan. 30, McDonald spoke to a homeless veteran in Los Angeles who told him he had served in the special forces.

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"Special forces? What years? I was in special forces," McDonald replied.

McDonald admitted Monday to The Huffington Post that he misspoke.

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"I have no excuse," he said. "I was not in special forces."

"I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is," he added.

McDonald graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, then went on to serve in the 82nd Airborne Division. He completed Ranger training, but never served as an Army Ranger.

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McDonald also apologized in an official statement Monday.

"While I was in Los Angeles, engaging a homeless individual to determine his veteran status, I asked the man where he had served in the military. He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces," McDonald said. "That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement."

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The White House said in a statement that the Obama administration had accepted McDonald's apology.

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"We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he's doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation's veterans," a spokesman said.

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