VA needs 26 million envelopes, fast

Add old-fashioned envelopes to the list of problems the Department of Veterans Affairs has to wrestle with following the theft of 26.5 million veterans’ records from a VA employee’s laptop computer, which was at the employee's home.

The VA plans to notify all those veterans by mail, but the agency does not have enough envelopes, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, this morning at a joint hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Homeland Security committees.

The mailing will include information to help veterans guard against possible misuse of the stolen personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, Opfer said at the hearing.

But he added that the agency lacks envelopes and money for the mailing. Nicholson told the joint hearing that “we don’t have 26 million envelopes…and we need to reprogram $25 million dollars for the envelopes and the call center” the VA set up to handle calls from veterans concerned about the theft.

Nicholson estimated the costs of the envelopes and mailing to be $10 million to $11 million, and the remainder of the $25 million would go to the call center.

As of yesterday the call center, which was set up May 22, has logged calls from 105,753 veterans, the VA secretary said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) assured Opfer and Nicholson that the Senate would give the VA funds to handle the mailing, operate the call center and provide other veteran outreach programs connected to the data theft.

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