Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized today for mistakenly saying in a videotaped exchange with a homeless man that he had served in the special forces, though his service was entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division.
"Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service," a White House official told ABC News. "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 exchange with the homeless man was part of a report about an effort to find military veterans among the homeless that aired on CBS News on Jan. 30.
"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," McDonald said in a statement today. "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.
"I have great respect for those who have served our nation in special forces," McDonald added. "They, and all Veterans, deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs that provides them the care and benefits they have earned. I remain committed to continuing our progress to improve VA services and our ongoing effort to reform VA for the long-term."
McDonald, former Procter and Gamble CEO, served with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and completed jungle, arctic and desert warfare training, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge and Senior Parachutist wings, the VA added, noting that McDonald, who retired as a captain, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal after leaving the service.