Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SPECIAL REPORT: Veterans Ripped Off

The names, social security numbers and birth dates of 26.5 million veterans, mostly involving veterans who were discharged from 1975 onward, have been stolen. The records of some veterans who had been discharged earlier and then filed a claim with the agency may also be involved. They are all now exposed to possible identity theft.

How? Why? What is our government doing about it? What needs to be done?

How? A VA worker had taken the data home to work on a VA department project. The worker, who has not been identified, is a longtime employee of the agency. He lives in suburban Maryland, a law enforcement official said. Probably in some plush, cushy home that we veterans paid for with our taxes and in so many other ways.

Why? Stupidity is the answer. Who allowed this stupidity?

What is our government doing about it? The VA and the FBI (the people who can’t find Bin Laden and his cronies) are investigating the theft. The data was on at least one disk and stolen along with the VA employee’s laptop.

What needs to be done?
1. Identify and fire the longtime VA employee. Right now this guy is on "administrative leave." Show his picture in newspapers and on TV. He should have known better. Fire his superiors. Today.

2. The VA must guarantee any and all vets compromised by this breach of security that the agency will reimburse any financial loss resulting from this gaffe. This should include financial compensation (at $25 an hour) for a veteran’s time in fighting this breach if it affects his financial well being.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is advising veterans to be "extra vigilant" and to monitor their bank statements, credit card records and the like. Veterans can go to firstgov.gov and www.va.gov/opa for information, or call a toll-free number: 1 (800) 333-4636.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if the VA had been “extra vigilant?”
--Walter Haan, www.war-books.com

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