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VA Secretary’s Special Forces claim




Robert McDonald, President Obama's nominee to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee July 22, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Robert McDonald, President Obama's nominee to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee July 22, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Just over three weeks ago, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald joined us on AirTalk to describe the end of a legal battle over use of the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs facility.

Later that day, McDonald was in Downtown LA taking part in the homeless census. News media surrounded him, including a CBS camera crew. CBS captured an exchange between a homeless man on the street and Secretary McDonald in which McDonald claimed to have been in Special Forces.

You can watch a CBS video on counting the homeless here. 

But it turned out McDonald wasn't in Special Operations, though he completed the Army Ranger training program.

Yesterday, the VA released a statement from Secretary McDonald. It read, "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."

Was this was a serious effort to deceive, or an offhanded attempt to bond with the man that went awry? Does this compare with the Stolen Valor incidents where people wear unearned military decorations?

Guests:

John Rabe, Host, KPCC’s Off-Ramp, who was with VA Secretary McDonald that night 

Leo Shane III, Military Times, Congressional Reporter who’s been following the story. His latest piece looks at how various veteran groups have reacted to the false claims