Tag Archives: Bob McDonald

Yes, Mr. Secretary, words do matter


Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald has just learned that words matter.

They matter a lot.

He recently tossed out a seemingly flippant comment about wait times at veterans medical clinics, comparing them to the wait times at Disneyland.

According to NBC News: “The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring. What we should be measuring is the veterans’ satisfaction,” McDonald had told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington on Monday. “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What’s important? What’s important is: What’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

OK, Mr. Secretary, let’s not go there.

A lot of veterans take their medical care quite seriously. Indeed, McDonald holds his current job because his predecessor, Eric Shinseki, was forced to resign because of issues relating to wait times and allegations that hospital officials were cooking the records to reflect that the wait times at clinics weren’t as long as had been reported.


McDonald also said: “If I was misunderstood, if I said the wrong thing, I’m glad that I have the opportunity to correct it,” he told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I’m only focused on one thing, and that’s better caring for veterans. That’s my job, that’s why I’m here.”

This veteran accepts your correction, Mr. Secretary.

Just take greater care when discussing these things in public. A lot of veterans are listening carefully.


VA chief 'inaccurately' states military service

When will this all stop? The fibbing, the “incorrect” statements about one’s personal history, the embarrassments.

Welcome to the Pantheon of Prevaricators, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.

The new VA boss — hired to fix the problems that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care network — has been caught saying he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces when, in fact, he didn’t.


McDonald was caught on camera telling a homeless veteran that he served in the elite fighting force. The vet told the secretary he had served in Special Forces. “Me, too,” McDonald answered, telling the fellow he also was a Special Forces soldier.

To be fair, McDonald is a West Point graduate and did become an Army Ranger, which happens to be an elite fighting force as well. Why embellish those credentials?

NBC News anchor Brian Williams has recently admitted to “misremembering” an incident in which he said  a helicopter he was riding in was shot down by enemy fire in Iraq; it didn’t happen and he’s been suspended without pay for six months. Then came questions about Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly’s experience covering the Falklands War in 1982; he has said he came under fire covering that conflict but others have challenged his assertions, saying he didn’t set foot on the battlefield, as his reporting at the time and the years since have implied. O’Reilly and Fox are battling the accusations.

McDonald has apologized for the incident, which was recorded by a CBS News crew. “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.”

Inaccurate? Yeah, it was at least that. I’d call it a “lie,” which is the kind of thing that got the VA into trouble in the first place, with hospital staffers falsifying wait times that veterans were having to endure while seeking medical care.

Get back to work, Mr. Secretary — and limit your public remarks to the job you’ve been assigned to do.