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ABC News: Veterans secretary apologizes for misstating military service

New Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald gestures as he testifies about "The State of VA Health Care" as he appears at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

(Reuters) - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized on Monday for saying that he had served in the special forces when he had not, ABC News reported.

The department was not immediately available for comment and McDonald's statement was not published on its website.

He was in Los Angeles last month speaking to a homeless man during a campaign to identify vagrant veterans when he made the comment, ABC News reported citing a statement from the Secretary.

"I asked the man where he had served in the military," McDonald said, according to ABC News. "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."

McDonald, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division and earned the U.S. Army Ranger tab, was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate last July, according to the VA website. He was formerly the CEO of Proctor & Gamble Co.

Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC's top-rated "Nightly News" program, was suspended without pay two weeks ago after acknowledging a story he told about coming under fire on a helicopter during the Iraq war was not true.

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Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco