Tags: VA Scandal | Robert McDonald | va | veterans | special forces | army rangers

VA Chief Sorry for Lying About Service in Special Forces

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 06:57 AM

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald excitedly boasted he'd served in the military's elite special operations forces in a "boneheaded" lie caught on videotape, The Huffington Post reports.

McDonald blurted out the assertion last month in Los Angeles during a nationwide count of homeless veterans videotaped by a CBS-TV news crew following him as he talked with a homeless vet who'd been in special forces.

"Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!" McDonald excitedly told the vet.

Story continues below video.

Special operations forces highly trained troops from each military service, and include the Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force, and Navy SEALs.

McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA in June amid the agency's delayed-care scandal, spent his military service with the 82nd Airborne Division, the Huffington Post reports.

The news website reports that McDonald graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 and completed Army Ranger training, qualifying as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster. But he never served as a Ranger.

"I have no excuse," McDonald told the website. "I was not in special forces."

The Post also reports that McDonald’s remark was initially noticed by several retired military officers — ironically, just days after NBC News anchor Brian Williams was suspended for fabricating stories about reporting experiences in Iraq.

McDonald told the website he "wanted to clear up the confusion I probably created — I did create," admitting his assertion "is not right. I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong."

"As I thought about this later I knew this [claim] was wrong," he told the Huffington Post. "I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is."

Retired Army Col. Gary Bloomberg, a former senior special forces commander, was irate.

"It was wrong," he told the website. "I thought, 'What a boneheaded statement — is this what we want from our senior government officials?'"

Bloomberg said special forces veterans keep an eye out for false claims, and "When it turns out the guy doesn’t have it," he said, "the community goes to great lengths to expose it."

In McDonald’s case, however, he said: "I can see [other former special forces soldiers] going, 'Hey, check out this boneheaded remark,' but I don’t see the gravitas that I would with a guy wearing medals he didn’t earn."

The White House said the Obama administration accepted McDonald's explanation.

"Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service," the White House said in a statement, the Huffington Post reports.

"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."


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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald excitedly boasted he'd served in the military's elite special operations forces in a "boneheaded" lie caught on videotape, The Huffington Post reports.
Robert McDonald, va, veterans, special forces, army rangers
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2015-57-24
Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 06:57 AM
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