Sunday, June 11, 2006

Paul Rieckhoff: Screwing the Troops | The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post

The VA had just disclosed the theft of millions of active-duty Troops' personal information.

What the hell is going on at the VA? This is ridiculous!

We've known for weeks that millions of veterans' have had their personal information stolen. So why did it take this long to disclose that millions of active-duty service members have also had their data stolen?
First the VA's incompetence endangers millions of veterans, now it screws our men and women in Iraq. And the news just keeps getting worse .

In a time of war, our men and women in uniform don't have the time or ability to monitor their credit and protect themselves from fraud. I remember trying to call my bank when I had an issue with my account while I was in Iraq. I write about this type of thing in my new book, Chasing Ghosts. I had fifteen minutes on the phone per week. I spent four of those minutes on hold. Then the lady on the phone kept telling me that I had to come into the branch to settle the issue. The bank's rules stated that certain business could only be done in person--at the branch. I could not come into the damn branch. I was in Iraq! So I was SOL. And our vets and troops will be too without immediate action.

The VA must fully disclose what information was lost, and how it plans to protect those members of the military who are now vulnerable to identity theft fraud. And we need immediate action from the President to demonstrate a real commitment to those Troops and Veterans who selflessly answered the call to serve under his initiative. He wants to keep us safe from terrorists, but he can't even keep my social security number safe from Billy Bob the burglar.

It is an unfortunate irony that the agency tasked with protecting our veterans is now responsible for having put so many of them, and also so many active Troops, at risk. The VA must now redeem itself by releasing a comprehensive plan to both protect those who've had their information stolen, and also ensure that such a breach in security never happens again. And they had better not dare to ask the vets and troops to pay for it.

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