In 2011, officials began replacing the Social Security Account Number, or SSAN, with a 10-digit number unique to the Department of Defense on all ID cards. Retirees, their family members, and survivors with an “INDEF” expiration date may not have replaced their ID card before and may therefore still have an SSAN printed on their card.
DOD officials are urging people who have an ID card with an “INDEF” expiration date to visit a DOD ID card facility for a new ID card with the DOD ID number in place of the SSAN to reduce their risk of identity theft. Officials stress that until an ID card with a printed SSAN expires, it remains valid and does not need to be confiscated or replaced.
In time, every ID card will have a printed DOD number instead of a printed SSAN. Family members and survivors will have their own DOD ID number printed on their cards, not that of their sponsor. Because DoD ID cards will no longer have the sponsor’s printed SSN, cardholders may be asked to provide it verbally.
To find your nearest DoD ID card facility, visit http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl or call the Total Force Service Center at 1-800-525-0102. (Source: Afterburner | Spring-Summer 2015)
Guantanamo Bay update
Congress will use every tool in its toolbox to block the White House from unilaterally closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned on Nov. 5. A day after the White House refused to rule out acting along to close the controversial facility, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said that it was “disgraceful” that the administration would sidestep Capitol Hill.
On Nov. 4, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that he would “not take anything off the table” with regard to Guantanamo. Closing the military detention facility was a 2008 campaign promise of President Obama’s that remains unfulfilled.
The administration has transferred a handful of detainees out of the facility in recent days, which could be interpreted as new momentum on the controversial issue. There are currently 112 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay. According to reports, the White House is preparing to unveil a new plan in the coming days to close the prison.
Obama vetoed a defense policy bill last month, partly because of language restricting where Guantanamo prisoners could be moved. A new version of the bill — which kept those restrictions but reversed course on budgetary maneuvers — sailed through the House on Thursday. The president has indicated he will not veto the new version over its Guantanamo Bay provision. (Source: The Hill | Julian Hattem | Nov. 5, 2015)
New hub coming
The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to unveil a new Web portal that incorporates its more than 1,000 veteran-related websites, a VA official announced Sept. 3. The new hub, called “Vets.gov,” was scheduled to go live on Veterans Day — Nov. 11 — of this year, VA’s Chief Veterans Experience Officer Tom Allin told an audience in Washington.
On that day, Vets.gov will go live but will not be fully operational, Allin said. VA is still working on a single secure sign-on system that could provide access to the more than 1,000 other sites, he explained.
“What we want is one portal, and we want the veteran to be able to go in, check on a claim, add a dependent, sign up for an education benefit, change their address and get that done online, at Vets.gov,” he said. VA aims to have that capability by next year, he said.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who joined the department last summer in the wake of the scandal over delayed wait times for veterans seek health care, told an audience in Washington last month VA needed to simplify its services for veterans.
“If I went to a veteran and said, ‘What’s Blue Button?’ they would have no idea,” McDonald said during a Politico event, referring to a system that lets patients download their own electronic medical records. Online veteran services have complicated names such as “MyHealtheVet,” he added. “What’s wrong with ‘Veterans.gov,’ or ‘Vets.gov’?”
Allin said he was concerned VA didn’t have enough integrated data about the veterans who use its services. At a national level, he said, “we have no idea right now who our customers are.” The VA health system has at least 225 databases that “don’t talk to each other. They have different data rules, and so we can’t tell you who is actually using VA today among our veterans.”
Allin said VA needs to improve its customer data collection efforts, including culling veterans’ contact information, their military records, demographics and how they have been using VA services. (Source: Nextgov.com | Mohana Ravindranath | September 3, 2015)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veterans updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.