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Rehberg Demands Answers for Montana Veterans on Identity Protection, Theft

Location: Washington, DC

Rehberg Demands Answers for Montana Veterans on Identity Protection, Theft

Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, reprimanded the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) at a congressional hearing this week over the loss 26.5 million veterans' personal information, including Social Security numbers, saying the VA needs to remedy the situation as quickly as possible and our nation's veterans shouldn't be responsible for the bureaucracy's mistakes.

"This was a complete dereliction of responsibility on the VA's part," Rehberg told Secretary Jim Nicholson. "I know the 102,000 veterans in Montana that I represent deserve better than this as does every U.S. veteran. This is certainly an issue that Congress needs to be involved in getting solved right now."

Rehberg also questioned witnesses before the Military Quality of Life Appropriations Subcommittee, of which he is a member, on a plan by the VA to provide one year of credit monitoring services to affected veterans at a cost of $160 million. The VA says personal data including names and birth dates, in addition to Social Security numbers, were stolen from an employee's house in May. The department recently announced the theft could impact as many as 1.1 million active-duty troops, 645,000 reservists and 430,000 National Guard members.

"It's great that the VA wants to provide the credit monitoring service for one year, but what's going to happen after that year is over?" asked Rehberg. "This is the responsibility of the VA. They need to make sure no veterans are being scammed or losing large sums of cash beyond one year. It just seems like an arbitrary number."

The VA has said it will take bids from private firms and provide the credit monitoring service free of charge to veterans. Notification letters will be mailed in early August.

"This is the second time in a year the VA has come before the Subcommittee asking for money to fix one of their mistakes," Rehberg said. "There seems to be a culture of missteps."

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