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July/August Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Letters / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Public Affairs Committee Report / Region 9 Report / From The National Secretary / PTSD/Substance Abbuse Report / Disaster Relief Committee Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / AVVA Report / TAPS / Veterans Initiative Task Force Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Locator / Reunions /

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From The National Secretary


BY BARRY HAGGE

Originally I planned a short article to congratulate the newly elected or re-elected leadership of our chapters and State Councils. The same old dry stuff reminding our Secretaries about one of the most important duties they are saddled with—getting those Election and Financial Reports into the National Office. I’ll go into this more in the next issue, but that message was relegated to the back burner by a little matter of misplacing our personal information by the VA.

As nearly everyone knows, the home of a VA analyst was burglarized and a laptop containing 26.5 million records with information on veterans, National Guard, Reserves, and active-duty military personnel was stolen. The precise breakdown of information on veterans versus Reserves versus active duty is not the important issue. What is important is that personal information was potentially compromised, and we need to be aware and remain vigilant.

As a result of this information loss, VVA joined other organizations and filed suit against the VA and Secretary Nicholson in his official capacity. The circumstances surrounding the information loss are still being investigated by law enforcement agencies as is a precise inventory of what information was compromised. We should assume that our personal information was compromised and remain aware. During times of stress, the good and bad of our fellow citizens surfaces. The good try to help and the bad attempt to take advantage of the situation.

Businesses with lax ethical standards are trying to sell products to protect us. The phishers, pharmers, and scam artists are creating and using scams to get people to divulge information through e-mails and phone calls. No reputable organization or company will ever ask for your account information over the phone or through an e-mail. Do not fall for this scam.

If you have an ATM or debit card, do not enter your pin number at a store. There have been instances of bad employees using palm readers to copy card numbers and pins.

Do go to www.ftc.gov and file a complaint and follow the recommendations.

Do monitor your checking and savings account. Online banking lets you do this with little effort. Strange withdrawals are not good. Don’t disregard that strange 99-cent charge. It could be a test to see if the scanner has a valid account number.

Do obtain your credit reports and monitor them regularly. There was a long fight to force the credit bureaus to supply this information. Use it and look for strange accounts.

Above all, contact your member of Congress, Senators, and State Representatives and express your concerns. This is not a partisan issue. We will not accomplish anything by attempting to turn it into one. This issue has been identified for a long time and the solutions have been resisted by the entrenched bureaucracy. This problem is also not only a VA problem. It is systemic in many federal and state agencies. Tell them to fix it now.

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