Wilson Introduces Veterans` Identity Protection Act
Congresswoman Heather Wilson, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, announced today she is introducing the Veterans? Identity Protection (VIP) Act to ensure veterans have proper recourse if their personal information was mishandled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The VA has announced that identity information on 26.5 million veterans, discharged since 1975, has apparently been stolen after having been taken home by an employee on a laptop computer. According to the VA, the information includes names, birthdates and Social Security numbers ? enough information to raise serious concerns about the risk of identity theft.
"The VA is responsible for this breach and they need to make sure veterans are made whole if they are harmed by this blunder," Wilson said. "Veterans must be able to file claims and be compensated quickly if there are stolen identities and costs that are the fault of a government agency."
Wilson's bill establishes a claims process for veterans so they do not bear the burden of costs associated with the VA?s failure. Under the bill, damages can include reimbursement, as well as court and attorney fees.
"Our veterans should have peace of mind that the VA?s mistake will not create financial ruin for them," Wilson said.
The bill establishes a claims office that will be independent of the VA. The bill waives the lengthy federal tort claims process so that veterans don't have to spend years trying to sue the government for damages to them.
"America is a grateful nation," Wilson said. "Millions around the world today live in freedom because of the service and sacrifice of our veterans. The government's screw-up shouldn't be our veterans' problem. VA efforts thus far to provide information to veterans about identity theft are woefully inadequate."
Rep. Wilson is the first graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy serving in Congress, and the only woman veteran currently serving in Congress.