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VA secretary apologizes for misstating military service to homeless veteran

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized Monday for misstating that he served in the military's special forces while speaking to a homeless veteran during a segment that aired last month on 'CBS Evening News.'

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    Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, Feb. 11, 2015. McDonald apologized Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, for misstating that he served in the military's special forces. McDonald made the erroneous claim while speaking to a homeless veteran during a segment that aired last month on 'CBS Evening News.'
    Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
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Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized Monday for misstating that he served in the military's special forces.

McDonald made the erroneous claim while speaking to a homeless veteran during a segment that aired last month on "CBS Evening News."

In a statement released Monday by the VA, McDonald said: "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. That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement."

The VA website says McDonald is an Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division. The Huffington Post website, which first reported on McDonald's mistake, noted Monday that the 82nd is not considered part of special forces.

McDonald said he remains committed "to the ongoing effort to reform VA."

The White House issued a statement Monday saying, "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."

President Barack Obama chose the former Procter & Gamble CEO to take over the scandal-plagued VA last year, and McDonald took office last July. The questions about McDonald's service come as TV newsmen Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly have had their claims about covering foreign wars called into question.

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