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VA Accidentally Tosses Veterans Records

Courtesy VA Black Hills Health Care System

The VA Black Hills Health Care System Administration has confirmed that personal information for hundreds of area veterans, including social security numbers, was “accidentally” made accessible to the public.

Sometime between May 15 and May 17, a list of some 1,100 veterans was discarded in a trash can at the Hot Springs VA health care facility. The list contained veterans’ personal information including full names, social security numbers, telephone numbers and addresses.

Although the VA could not trace which employee discarded the list, Associate Director C.B. Alexander notes that a second employee found the list and alerted VA police…who immediately secured the information.

Alexander says the VA followed a number of standard procedures during its investigation of the incident

“We set up an 800 number for veterans to call,” Alexander explains. “Set up credit-monitoring processes if they’re interested in that. Ensured that we have investigated how it had occurred to the best of our ability. And then on July 31 we released a press release after we had already mailed letters to our veterans informing them of the privacy incident.”

In response to why the letters to affected veterans were only sent out 2 days before that press release. Alexander replied that the VA wanted to make sure that processes were in place to assist the veterans with any resulting issues prior to letting them know about the incident.  

***Veterans with questions or concerns about their personal records should contact the VA Black Hills Health Care System at 1.844.454.8073.