"DOD to miss deadline for removing Social Security numbers from IDs" (article, Dec. 4) is an issue near and dear to my heart.

[When] we converted from military service numbers to Social Security numbers, I am sure no one could envision an environment where our numbers could be exploited the way they have. Now, we have a large problem. That [the change to Social Security numbers] originated in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) might reveal that it was for the ease of accounting with the introduction of the new Joint Uniform Military Pay System.

Now, DOD has recognized this problem by taking off SSNs from identification cards and correspondence. However, there still exists a need for a number associated with identifying service personnel that can be used outside of the finance realm. I would, therefore, suggest that we go back to the military service number and leave the SSN for the disbursing offices and finance offices. If we went back to MSNs, we could have a number that, if exploited, would not tie the individual servicemember to any personal financial data. DOD could get a computer to assign MSNs to all veterans that inprocessed after those dates where we left off, so they will have service numbers to use with Veterans Affairs and then start issuing MSNs to current recruits and officer candidates.

I write this from experience. My SSN and identity were compromised and I wished then that I had a service number; I wish I had one now, knowing how easily SSNs have been compromised. It is only a matter of time before someone’s SSN is compromised for nefarious purposes, and this could very well become a force protection issue, in that people could be blackmailed, influenced or bribed.

Maj. Stew Rayfield (retired)Afghanistan

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