Cheryl Seal
More on the VA Identity Theft case
Wed Jun 7, 2006 22:52

Defense Department Lies Through Its Teeth to Cover It's Ass on Stolen Active Duty Files

. The big hot potato that just got tossed was the news that missing in addition to files on 26 million vets was info on 2.2 million ACTIVE DUTY servicefolk. Why did the VA have any info on active duty soldiers? The answer: It doesn't. If you are on active duty, you are not a vet. You do NOT qualify for the GI loans, medical benefits, home loans, you have been. A. Discharged and B. officially filed for benefits with the VA. Although it is possible that several thousand reservists/guarders and regular military who have re-upped after a previous discharge could show up in VA files, it does not account for the estimated 2.2 million files - nearly 80% of all active duty soldiers - showing up.

So here's the VA/White House excuse of the hour, as transcribed and disseminated by the mainstream media (they all got the same tale, apparently and swallowed without chewing). Here's CNN's version
"The VA realized it had records on file for almost all active-duty personnel because they are eligible to receive VA benefits such as GI Bill educational assistance and the home loan guarantee program."
Even Stars n'Stripes, a military news source, got an earful of Defense Dept. spin.
"Defense Department spokesman Col. Jeremy Martin said the military services routinely share the names and Social Security numbers of new troops with the VA because of the numerous active-duty benefits their agencies handle. Anyone participating in programs such as Servicemembers Group Life Insurance or the GI bill or receiving benefits such as a VA home loan would have their information passed along, Martin said.”
These are out and out freakin' lies!! Ask anyone at the DAV who works with vets ask any VA claims counselor, in fact! - and they will tell you that it is doesn't work like that. It is very hard to get the VA to even TELL newly discharged soldiers what benefits they ARE entitiled to. The story that the military "routinely shares the names and SS numbers of new troops with the VA" because ( it is implied) they want to make sure the troops get access to all those great benefits is 100% fairy tale. In fact, the DAV has been having to aggressively push since the start of the war to induce VA hospitals to allow DAV reps on the floors to counsel wounded soldiers about their benefits! It's a new and sicko version of "don't ask, don't tell": - i.e., "If they don't ask, don't tell 'em."
David Vest of Counterpunch wrote, "Although it hasn't hesitated to send them to face death in Iraq, the administration has consistently opposed any attempt to extend full benefits to Reservists and National Guardsmen, twenty percent of whom have no health insurance by General Accounting Office estimates. ...
"And so now we learn that ever since Operation Iraqi Freedom got underway, it has been easier for a terrorist to get into the United States legally than for a DAV representative to get into a military hospital to help wounded soldiers with their benefit applications. Sickeningly, the Pentagon has been severely limiting DAV access to wounded veterans and doing it on grounds of "security." Oh, yes, and protecting "privacy."
It protects the veterans' privacy by not allowing them to speak with DAV representatives "unmonitored."
A sidebar at the Stars n' Stripes (a no-spin zone, apparently) lists the only soldiers/vets whose info could theoretically be at risk of being among the missing files. This list includes:
All veterans discharged from the military between 1975 and April 2006.
All veterans who submitted a benefits claim between 1975 and April 2006.
All active-duty members who have enrolled in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance.
All guardsmen and reservists who have enrolled in the SGLI (Service Disabled Group Life Insurance) program.

No one else is likely to be in the VA files - at least not for the reasons given out by the Defense Dept.

In short, there is something rotten here....and there have been some pretty goddamned major efforts made to cover up whatever it is - from the three-week delay before reporting the missing files to the dissemination of information by the Defense Dept. that every VA claims counselor knows is false.

Main Page - Saturday, 06/10/06

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