LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Sensitive information detailing the military careers of dozens of U.S. veterans, social security numbers and pension applications was mailed to a Weld County man who is also a veteran.
That mix-up can be traced back to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Lakewood. The agency is in charge of processing disability claims for veterans. Now its implicated in a security breach impacting as many as 150 veterans.
Wayne Hayden is a Korean War veteran. He has been battling the Veterans Administration over a claim for the past seven years. He claims to have lost his house, his health and his hope.
That’s when Hayden received the boxes in the mail which contained all the paperwork for his claim with the VA. Then he noticed something else.
“When I opened the first box and started going through it I found some names and Social Security numbers of other soldiers I was stationed with,” said Hayden.
The Veterans Administration office in Lakewood had mailed Hayden 30 pages of names and Social Security numbers, transfer orders and promotion lists of other veterans. There was even an application for a pension that didn’t belong to Hayden.
“It could have wound up in any criminal’s hands anywhere,” said Hayden.
Since Hayden was wary of the VA he went to his congressman, Rep. Cory Gardner.
“We contacted the VA trying to rectify it,’ said Gardner, a Republican representing northern Colorado.
Gardner said a week went by before the VA responded, asking Gardner’s staff to scan and email the documents back to them. Gardner’s office shredded the documents even though they weren’t asked to.
Now Gardner is demanding accountability.
“Personal identification information, the most private information of veterans is being sent out to people. We don’t know why, what safeguards are in place, how is that information being protected and why is this occurring in the first place,” said Gardner.
Hayden also wants answers, “This is a mistake that needs to be acknowledged and fixed so our private information is not being spread all over the country.”
Hayden believes all this could have been avoided if someone had read his file. Two years ago, Hayden said a judge with the Board of Veterans Appeals ordered the VA to settle his claim.
The VA said it will contact all the veterans involved and offer them free credit reporting.
On Tuesday the VA warned 239 veterans that their personal information may have been compromised. Two laptops vanished from a locked testing lab at Denver’s VA Medical Center earlier this month. The computers contained encrypted names, social security numbers and medical test results of the veterans.
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