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Veterans' website privacy breach under investigation

A breach that may have exposed the private information of thousands of veterans is under investigation.

E-Benefits, the VA and the Defense Department's benefits website, is back online now. It was shut down for about four days after dozens of veterans logged on and said they were able to see other veterans' private information.

Lonnie Mullen, a Marine Corps veteran in Pensacola, says he was amazed by what he saw on his computer Wednesday night.

"I logged on to E-Benefits and saw someone else's information," said Mullen.

Mullen was checking on a claim regarding a knee injury when he made the discovery. And he wasn't alone. Several other veterans throughout the country noticed the glitch.

"It gave me a different person's name each and every time I came back," said Sylvester Woodland, a Navy veteran in North Carolina.

Mullen said, "I was able to look at past conditions and current medical conditions, bank routing numbers, social security numbers, a lot of vital critical information, personal information and I wondered who was looking at mine."
   
The website was shut down later Wednesday night. Mullen and others say they then called the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I couldn't get through to the 800 number," Mullen said, "So I ended up contacting my local congressman and his office."
   
A spokesman for Mullen's congressman, Jeff Miller, says the issue is under investigation by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.   
   
The VA says the problem was caused by a defect discovered during a software upgrade Wednesday evening. About ten thousand users logged onto the site that day.

"I'm disappointed, very disappointed," said Mullen, "These vets out there, they serve their country, they've protected our rights and our freedoms and they're not being protected."

The VA released a statement saying they take the obligation to protect personal information seriously. They say once they figure out how many users were impacted, they'll take appropriate action, which may include free credit monitoring for those affected.