PVA responds to VA secretary's claims of time in the Special Forces
Last month, while touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Bob McDonald wrongly claimed that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in Special Forces. See the CBS-TV report here.
“We're losing sight of the most important aspect of this story—the VA secretary was directly engaging one of many homeless veterans in the west Los Angeles area, where this problem is most prevalent,” said Homer S. Townsend Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless military veterans in the nation, estimated to be around 4,000. On January 28, 2015, the VA announced its written plan to help end veterans homelessness in Greater Los Angeles.
“Instead of spontaneously responding that he was Special Forces, he should have clarified his actual military experience and chosen his words more carefully. At least now, though, the country is paying attention to the issue of veterans homelessness—a problem that has been largely ignored by the mainstream until now.”
“Secretary McDonald has apologized for exaggerating what is his otherwise honorable service,” Townsend said. “We maintain our support for him as he continues the effort to reduce veterans homelessness, strengthen the VA healthcare system and ensure the timely receipt of veterans benefits.”