*To a soldier, a Dog Tag (pictured above) is like a civilian’s finger print. There is only one like it. It separates us from everyone else in the world. It shows us as an individual. And if its stolen, the thief can create a whole new existence for him or herself – using something that at one time uniquely identified someone else.
CNN quotes the Library of Congress saying a dog tag “individualizes the human being who wears it, despite his or her role as a small part of a huge and faceless organization.”
On Tuesday, that organization – the Army – announced its plan to make changes to the dog tags so that ID theft won’t be an easy task. And it will be the first time in four decades that such a change has been made.
“If you find a pair of lost ID tags you can pretty much do anything with that person’s identity because you now have their blood type, their religion, you have their social, and you have their name,” says Michael Klemowski of the US Army Human Resources Command in an Army press release. “The only thing missing is their birth date, and you can usually get that by Googling a person.”
According to CNN, one of the changes soldiers can expect includes the removal of their SSN from dog tags; which will be replaced with a 10-digit, randomly generated Defense Department ID number. This particular change has been a long time coming. It was first introduced in 2007. But because of all the military systems that rely on the usage of SSN’s, a major reprogramming had to occur before the SSN-less dog tags could be instituted, the Army Times reports.
But the changes are not expected to inconvenience the soldier.
“This change is not something where Soldiers need to run out and get new tags made,” says Klemowski. “If a Soldier is going to deploy, they are the first ones that need to have the new ID tags.”