Unknown soldiers too well-known

Well, happy Memorial Day to us.

In a swift kick to the crotch of veterans everywhere, it would seem some pinheaded doofus at the Department of Veterans Affairs recently decided to bring home a laptop and external hard drive that kept the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of every living veteran from 1975 to the present. That equipment was subsequently stolen from the aforementioned yahoo’s home, thus putting into severe jeapordy the financial and personal lives of approximately 26 million veterans.

I’m sorry. I’m starting to feel a little sick.

As someone who was once burned by identity theft, I know intimately how much it, well, stinks on ice. You go about your business, trying to get through life just like everyone else, then you find out “you’ve” been shopping like a Gabor sister.

Now, to be fair, my bank in Connecticut at that time was very helpful. I didn’t end up having to pay for any of the charges accumulated under my name, and they put me in touch with a person from the state attorney general’s office to lodge a complaint.

That was in 1999, and I’m still waiting for a call back. Wow, come to think of it, that reminds me of this pretty girl I met in the 11th grade. She, too, asked for my number. And she, too, has yet to call me back. The only difference between the two is I think she and I really shared a moment, and I’m guessing she probably had a fall of some sort and fell into a coma. I’m betting any day now she’ll wake up and her first instinct will be to pick up the phone and call ...

But I digress.

See, since my little trip down the Fraudulent Superhighway, I’ve been extremely cautious with how I use my credit card. I only buy things on the Internet with it at established sites, and I keep an eye on it when I pay at restaurants.

And now this? We get exposed to computer nerd dirtbags with access to the entire world and the leverage to buy things with our money? We get exposed by the people who are supposed to be taking care of us?

This stinks.

Look, I know that if this information falls into the wrong hands and charges start coming up across the board that we will be taken care of in the end. In fact, veterans can contact the VA at (800) 333-4636, or visit www.firstgov.gov for more information. That’s all well and good.

However ...

I’m in the market for a home right now. Do I really need some bizarre charges to midgets-in-drag.com or airline tickets to Bornia screwing me up at the last second? How would I ever explain a credit card statement featuring giant clown shoes or subscriptions to inferior weekly papers?

I couldn’t. Who in their right mind could?

So, where we’re at right now is hoping this data is recovered, and praying that it’s recovered before it winds up in the hands of some creep with a fast keyboard and endless creativity. At a time when veterans are supposed to take a break from the day-to-day travails of life and focus on fallen brothers and sisters, we’re instead forced to waste that time worried about how many songs might be purchased on iTunes under our names or how many tickets to the next Culture Club reunion concert might be bought under our identities.

Again, that stinks.

I keep coming back to the fact that an employee brought these records home with him. My first instinct, as I’m sure it was with many of you, was that he brought them home so he could sell the information to someone else. However, investigators are putting out signals that they do not believe this individual was involved.

Well, he was involved. Either through sheer stupidity on the part of the individual, or incredible breakdowns in policy at his office, this nimrod was able to bring this information home with him where they would be in an obviously unsecured location. I would suggest that’s a problem.

There is probably a 99-percent chance that nothing will come out of this except embarrassment to the VA and a wave of fear across 26 million people who have served this nation. I’m fairly certain that there won’t be a rash of “veterans” buying computers and hot rods on the Internet, and I’m guessing that there won’t be teams of anti-military protesters camping out on all our yards with their picket signs (though that might happen anyway, if recent events tell us anything).

But it still stinks.