Our debt to veterans

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The revelation that personal information about 26.5 million U.S. veterans was stolen from the home of a Veterans Affairs data analyst raises many questions. None of the answers is likely to make the veterans or anyone else feel better about the security of their records.

The information stolen included names, birth dates and Social Security numbers but no financial or medical information.

At least one person is sure to be fired for improperly taking the information home, but the incident underscores previous questions about security at the VA. Investigators now say the employee had been taking data home for three years.

Moreover, whatever precautions we take to protect our identities never seem sufficient to prevent information from getting into the hands of people who aren't supposed to have it.

The Veterans Administration has much to answer for allowing weeks to pass before revealing the theft, making it that much more difficult for the veterans and law enforcement to prevent the information from being used illegally.

The debt this nation owes its veterans is immeasurable. Now we must assure that every one of them is protected from being hurt by this massive blunder.

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