Tester applauds VA ID card improvements

Senator pledges to continue fighting to protect veterans’ privacy

(HAVRE, MT) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it will issue a more secure Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) to replace its Veteran Identification Card (VIC). Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, recently called on the VA to quickly issue new ID cards after it was revealed that the current VA-issued ID cards can accidentally reveal veterans’ Social Security Numbers:

“I am pleased the VA is taking quick action to keep our veterans’ identities safe by issuing cards that better protect their personal information. More needs to be done, however, to fully protect veterans’ privacy. I will keep pushing the VA to address security slip-ups and make sure all veterans’ private information is secure and that veterans get the benefits and support they earned.”

The VA today began issuing the new VHIC to veterans who newly enroll with the Veterans Health Administration. Beginning in April, the VA will start automatically issuing the more secure VHIC to every veteran who currently holds a VIC.

Recent reports showed that scanning the barcode of a VIC exposes the veteran’s Social Security Number. The VA still hasn’t stated whether it knows of any cases of identity theft tied to the use of the older ID cards.

The VA is also dealing with the accidental exposure of the personal information of up to 5,000 veterans on its eBenefits website. Tester wants the VA to provide more information about that data breach and outline the steps it is taking to prevent a similar violation.