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Friday, June 09, 2006

STATEMENT FROM REP. JOHN T. SALAZAR (D-CO) RE: VA THEFT IDENTITY AND HIS LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT



SALAZAR LEADS CONGRESS IN PUSHING PRESIDENT FOR FUNDING AND FULL DISCLOSURE ON IDENTITY THEFT

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2006

Washington, DC.---With each day bringing new disclosures on the severity of the Veterans' Administration's data breach, Congressman John Salazar (CO-3), the newest Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, today gathered the support of nearly 150 Members in calling on the President to provide emergency funding to aid the serive members impacted by data theft.

"This Administration continues to fail our veterans and military families," said Salazar. "The last month has been an embarrassing display of the VA consistently failing to provide timely information about the severity of the data theft. The delays and misinformation hurts veterans and military families at a time when we should be taking aggressive steps to protect their identities and financial standing."

Continued Salazar: "The President needs to make clear that such bungled bureacracy will not be tolerated. A simple apology is not nearly enough to make up for the cover up and careless handing of security. The President needs to take real steps and provide immediate aid to the affected servicemembers."

Said the Members in the letter: "The federal government has a duty to ensure that the financial health of our nation's veterans and military families is not harmed as a result of this most unfortunate event. Any credit reporting assistance provided must not come from previously appropriated or budgeted dollars for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. It is not fair, nor is it right, to risk access to services within the VA because of the theft of personal data."


The complete text of the letter to the President followes:

June 7, 2006

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

We cannot begin to express our concern with regard to the revelation on Monday, May 22nd of the theft of personal information of 26.5 million veterans from the home of a career employee of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Just yesterday, we were informed that all active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members---about 2.2 million total---may also be at risk of identity theft. While this Congress looks forward to working with your administration to find solutions to the systemic problems that led to this situation, we are writing for a more immediate need.

You are undoubtedly aware that a majority of the information compromised contained names, Social Security Numbers and dates of birth of these veterans and service members. This information is the principal data identity thieves require to commit a crime against an individual's financial standing.

With that in mind, Mr. President, we urge you to immediately request emergency funding that would, starting this year, aid those who have been impacted by this data theft. Specifically, we urge you to provide for free credit monitoring for all veterans and military personnel who are at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. In addition, we call on you to provide funding for one additional free credit report per year to each individual affected. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate that would authorize this spending.

The federal government has a duty to ensure that the financial health of our nation's veterans and military families is not harmed as a result of this most unfortunate event. Any credit reporting assistance provided must not come form previously appropriated or budgeted dollars for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. It is not fair, nor is it right, to risk access to services within the VA because of the theft of personal data.

Sincerely,
Congressman John Salazar (CO-3)
Congressman Lane Evans (D-IL), Ranking Member, Vetrans Affairs House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congressman Jim Clyburn, Chair, Democratic Caucus & 140 other Members of Congress

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