WASHINGTON — The personal information of nearly 1.1 million active-duty troops and nearly 1.1 million guardsmen and reservists was part of the data lost by a Veterans Affairs employee last month, department officials confirmed Monday.

The announcement contradicted previous assurances by the VA that current military members were not included in the personal files on 26.5 million people stolen from the employee’s Maryland home May 3 during a robbery.

Over the weekend, officials amended that, saying the list might include some information on about 50,000 sailors and guardsmen.

Then, on Tuesday, VA spokesman Matt Burns confirmed that forensic specialists discovered that almost 2.2 million active-duty and Reserve troops — nearly all current military personnel — were part of the database being used in internal department research.

The information lost includes the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of the affected military personnel.

Officials do not believe the list included home addresses, financial data or other information for active-duty personnel, but Burns said the investigation into who was involved and what data was lost is ongoing.

“And we’re continuing to work with the Department of Defense on the best way to assist those affected,” he said.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Jeremy Martin said the military services routinely share the names and Social Security numbers of new troops with the VA because of the numerous active-duty benefits their agencies handle.

Anyone participating in programs such as Servicemembers Group Life Insurance or the GI bill or receiving benefits such as a VA home loan would have their information passed along, Martin said.

“But when we send our data to the VA, it’s always encrypted and secure,” Martin said.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson testified May 25 before Congress that the employee whose home was burglarized had been using the sensitive data to develop a more efficient phone polling system to review VA programs.

The man, a longtime VA employee, was not authorized to take the sensitive data home. Burns said the man and his supervisor have been placed on administrative leave pending their dismissal, and deputy assistant secretary for policy Michael McLendon resigned earlier this month as a result of the mistake.

According to a memo obtained by The Washington Post, the data was stored in statistical analysis software files which are likely difficult to manipulate for those unfamiliar with the format.

Federal law enforcement officials said they have seen no indication that the lost data has been used in any illegal activity.

Still, the VA and the Defense Department are asking all affected military personnel to monitor their bank statements, credit cards and any other financial accounts because of the risk of identity theft.

Burns said every person whose Social Security number was compromised will receive a letter in the next few weeks detailing the theft and the department’s response.

Nicholson announced the VA is in discussions with several credit-monitoring services on providing assistance to the veterans and troops affected. Several members of Congress and veterans groups have demanded the VA pay for such protection, but no decisions have been made.

Groups at risk of identity theft

Veterans Affairs officials are trying to determine whose data was compromised when information on 26.5 million individuals was stolen, but they have specifically identified some groups who need to be on alert:

All veterans discharged from the military between 1975 and April 2006.All veterans who submitted a benefits claim between 1975 and April 2006.All active-duty members who have enrolled in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance.All guardsmen and reservists who have enrolled in the SGLI program.Information on veterans’ dependents and the spouses of active-duty troops also may have been compromised. VA officials said every person whose Social Security number was included in the lost data will receive notification from the department.

— Leo Shane III

Related Story:Hot line set up to answer lost data questions

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now