New resources help Veterans prevent identity theft

MRAN-VIctims638X308Identity theft is a problem in this country, and it’s not going away any time soon. With technology becoming more engrained in our lives each year, our information is more accessible than ever. If it’s not properly protected, criminals can wreak havoc on our financial and personal well-being.  According to Javelin’s 2013 Identity Fraud Report, identity theft occurred in the U.S. once every three seconds in 2013, costing Americans more than $21 billion.

Veterans are not immune to these threats, but there are ways to make it harder for cyber criminals to steal your identity. VA is making a push to give Veterans the knowledge they need to keep identity thieves at bay.

VA’s identity theft prevention campaign, More Than a Number, aims to educate Veterans and their beneficiaries on identity theft prevention. The campaign has two resources that are now available—an informational website  and a toll-free help line: 1-855-578-5492.

The help line, available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8p.m. ET, provides Veterans and their families a more personalized platform to find assistance and information on identity theft. The More Than a Number website houses identity theft prevention tips, next steps for identity theft victims, interactive media and links to some of the best identity theft prevention resources on the Web. Visitors to the site can also learn about some major initiatives that VA is using to help protect Veterans’ identities.

Don’t wait until it is too late to protect yourself from identity theft! Visit the More Than a Number website, or call the help line to take charge in safeguarding your identity.

Lowe, Stan-bw-frame

Stanley F. Lowe is the Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Security. Under Lowe’s direction, VA’s Office of Information Security works to prevent and mitigate the impact of any impending threats to VA’s IT infrastructure. He oversees the management of VA’s information security officers, cyber security program, privacy program, incident management and response capabilities, security operations, and business continuity efforts.

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Veteran, non-Veteran unemployment increases in July 2014

The July 2014 unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Veterans are, as a whole, doing slightly better than non-Veterans despite increases in unemployment.

The 12-month rolling averages show that Veterans and non-Veterans overall are doing better than they were a year ago. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment increased for the first time since February 2014.

July 2013 - July 2014 Unemployment Rolling Average

July 2013 – July 2014 Unemployment Rolling Average

Veteran unemployment rates increased by .6 percent while non-Veteran unemployment rates increased by .2 percent. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment rates increased by 2.2 percent. Read More »

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Secretary McDonald issues message to VA employees

SECVASecretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald today released the following message to VA employees:

MESSAGE FROM SECRETARY McDONALD

I am grateful to President Obama and to Congress for this opportunity to join the dedicated employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and I am honored to serve as your Secretary and lead VA.  We are immensely fortunate to work in an organization with the noblest and most respected mission in Government—serving this Nation’s Veterans.

We have strong institutional values—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.  We will all need to depend on and live by our values as we rise to meet the challenges ahead.  Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson—my West Point classmate, a trusted friend, and a great leader—had it right in his recent statement to Congress:  “We can turn these challenges into the greatest opportunity for improvement in the history of the Department.”

I recognize that the last few months have been difficult—and the days ahead will not be easy.  In fact, many tasks that we must accomplish will be difficult, but I assure you that I will be with you each step of the way.  I want to hear your ideas for improving the Department, and I will not tolerate those who stifle initiative, seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns or report problems, or lack integrity in word or deed.  Trust is essential in everything we do.

I am proud of the work you do and the mission we share, and I am determined to move forward to ensure that VA is the provider of choice for care and benefits for every generation of America’s Veterans.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming days.  God bless you all.

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VA News #581

#581
July 28 & Aug. 4, 2014

Hosts: Ka’alo Lovett & Thomas Middleton
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 11:50

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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108 year old female Veteran, Lucy Coffey: A true icon for female soldiers

Lucy Coffey’s dream of visiting Washington, D.C. came true this weekend. The 108-year-old San Antonio native arrived with an Honor Flight from Austin Friday night. Her goal was to see, one last time, the memorials dedicated to her generation’s service and sacrifice during World War II.

As a rising junior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I was immensely honored and excited to cover Lucy’s visit to D.C. After all, we future generations of soldiers learn the most about the military by hearing the stories of our Veterans.

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon when I met Lucy at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She arrived with family members and an entourage of volunteers from the Bexar County Veterans Service Office who assisted her withevery move. A stroke about a year ago limited her mobility and the oxygen tube she used hindered her ability to speak, but she still gave me an enthusiastic nod when I asked if she was enjoying her visit.

lucyQuickly escorted into the memorial, the frail yet energetic Veteran attended a private tour and a small ceremony and received tokens of appreciation from members of the Women’s Memorial Foundation. As I looked over the different sections of the memorial, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like for a woman to be in the service during her time.

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VA News #580

#580
July 14 & 21, 2014

Hosts: Carmen Cordoba & Roger Lockhart
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 15:00

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.
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Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts: A responsibility to tell our story

Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts was surrounded by fellow paratroopers from 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 173rd Airborne during a media roundtable held at the Pentagon on Tuesday. The former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. answered questions about being presented the country’s highest military award by President Obama the day before and his plans for the future, but he mostly wanted to talk about the men he fought next to in the Battle of Wanat.

Ryan Pitts walks out of the West Wing at the White House in Washington, District of Columbia.

Ryan Pitts walks out of the West Wing at the White House in Washington, District of Columbia. (REYNALDO LEAL/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

The men keep in contact with each other and try to meet up a few times a year. The group even compared the White House ceremony to a family reunion and it seems that was Pitts’ intent all along.

Pitts said his biggest surprise the entire week was that he wasn’t nervous during the ceremony. “I owe it all to the guys,” he said.

While selfless service and humility is not an uncommon trait for the individuals awarded the Medal of Honor, the speed in which Ryan diverts the attention is. For the July 21 ceremony at the White House, Pitts insisted that all of the gold star families from his unit be present. He called them himself saying, “This medal isn’t mine; your loved ones brought us home.”

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VA Acting Secretary: We Have Taken Recommended Actions to Improve Patient Care in Phoenix

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson today told members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee that the Department of Veterans Affairs has taken action on the four recommendations made in the Interim Report of the Office of Inspector General for the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The final report of the IG has not been published.

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Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson

“We have taken actions on all of the recommendations in the Inspector General’s interim report on Phoenix which was released in May,” Gibson said. “The Inspector General confirmed we have systemic issues when it comes to patient scheduling and access, and we are working to address this serious issue.  We have identified Veterans on wait lists at Phoenix, including those identified by the IG in their interim report, and have reached out to immediately begin scheduling appointments.  We have reviewed wait lists nationwide, including the New Enrollee Appointment Request (NEAR) list, and not only are we reaching out to contact those Veterans to get them into clinics, but we have posted the information online so Veterans can review our progress.

Acting Secretary Gibson visited the VA health care system in Phoenix on June 5 as the first of his 13 medical center visits in the past seven weeks.

Below is the text of Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) four interim recommendations, along with the actions VA has taken to implement each:

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Protect your skin during the hot summer months

uv-billboardIt’s getting easier to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Why? Because researchers have learned so much about the importance of regularly protecting our skin.

Even using sunscreen is now more commonplace than using “suntan lotion.”

Several studies link skin cancer to overexposure to the sun, and support the need to regularly protect our skin. Now, more and more people opt for sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. What’s more, researchers are telling us that sun exposure may be linked to eye problems, a weakened immune system, age spots, wrinkles and other skin issues. Read More »

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Acting VA Secretary addresses 115th National VFW Convention

Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on Tuesday, July 22. This is the 115th National VFW convention and hosts hundreds of Veterans from all over the country.

Watch his remarks in the video above or read the text of his remarks below.

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