WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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.
“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, “and 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.”
About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)