Veterans Affairs secretary lies about his military service

VA Secretary Robert McDonald told a homeless vet that he served in special forces. The problem for McDonald is that he was never assigned to a special forces unit after completing Army Ranger training.

The secretary apologized for his "mistatement" in Huffington Post.

The Hill:

“I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post. “I was not in special forces.” 

He added that he “reacted spontaneously” and “wrongly [with] no intent in any way to describe my record as any different than it is."

McDonald, who was confirmed in July of 2014, served in the 82nd Airborne Division and completed his Army Ranger training, earning the coveted Ranger tab. Although he completed that training, he never actually served in a special forces unit.

Special forces units are considered one of the most elite assignments in the military and include the Army Rangers, Green Berets and Navy SEALS.

"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 provided to The Huffington Post.

"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 flap comes just weeks after NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted that he lied about flying in a helicopter shot by enemy forces while reporting in Iraq.

Lying about one's military service - especially when you're the veterans affaris secretary - should disqualify you from high office. Veterans must have complete confidence in the leader of the VA that he will work in their interests and represent them in the halls of government.

McDonald violated that trust by claiming he served in an elite unit when he did not. It's one thing to fudge your military service sitting around a bar knocking back shots, and trading war stories with army buddies. It's quite another thing if you're the head of a cabinet level department that serves veterans.

He won't be fired, of course. In the Obama administration, lying, incompetence, even law breaking is excused or ignored. But it remains to be seen how can continue serving if he's lost the trust and confidence of those he purports to serve.