Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has apologized for making false claims about having served in the the U.S. military’s elite special operations forces, the latest scandal to hit the besieged department.
WASHINGTON (The Pontiac Tribune) — The incident, first reported Monday by the Huffington Post, took place last month as the new secretary participated in an overnight count of homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area.
McDonald said in a statement released to Military Times late Monday night. “I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces. That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”
McDonald took charge of the VA this past summer from retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who resigned amid a scandal involving widespread problems with VA patient care.
“I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post. “I was not in special forces.”
A spokesperson for the White House told Military Times on Tuesday morning that President Obama accepted McDonald’s explanation, saying “we take him at his word.”
“Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service,” the official said. “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.”
The apology is the second major correction for McDonald in the last week. In a Feb. 15 appearance on “Meet the Press,” he claimed that 60 department workers had been fired in recent months for problems related to the VA’s wait time scandal, but later backtracked to say only eight had lost their jobs.
This is a developing story.