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VVA Appalled at New Revelations in Computer Theft Case;
Calls on Courts to Assume Control of Veterans’ Personal Data
(Washington, D.C.) –
“On Tuesday, June 6, Vietnam Veterans of America joined
other veterans’ organizations in a class-action lawsuit designed to protect
personal information held by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, VVA
calls for immediate steps by the VA to secure the privacy of all data
concerning individual veterans in the custody of the VA, their employees,
and their contractors,” said John Rowan, National President of VVA.
“We understand that the VA Secretary has ordered that all department laptops
be turned in immediately for inventory,” said Rowan. “That VA executives
appear not to know what is accessible to anyone on these laptops reaffirms
our reasons for having joined in the lawsuit: to get court protection for
veterans’ personal data, as the VA obviously is incapable of securing this
information on its own.”
VA Secretary Nicholson is expected to publicly confirm the recall/inventory
of all VA laptops today in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland
Security and Government Reform.
“It is appalling that, even though there is no concrete evidence that the
files contained on the external hard drive of the stolen laptop have led to
the theft of any veteran’s identity, the VA only now discovers that personal
information on as many as 1.1 million military members on active duty,
430,000 members of the National Guard, and 645,000 members of the Reserves
may have been included in the data theft.
“This makes the theft all the more troubling, because it potentially
jeopardizes the well-being and morale of our troops in the field by
compromising the safety of their families here at home.
“We appreciate the belated attempt on the part of VA leadership to provide
veterans–and the American public–with truthful information about this theft.
Yet with each new revelation, a picture is painted of a mammoth bureaucracy
that is simply out of touch with basic tenets of cyber-security,” Rowan
“Our attorney has informed us that his office is getting numerous calls from
current and former VA employees acknowledging that they have had laptops
with sensitive information stolen from their cars and travel bags. This is
yet another reason why the courts must do what the VA bureaucracy can’t, or
won’t, do,” Rowan said.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's
only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the
needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is
“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”