Veterans Day presents an opportunity for Americans to reflect on the military service of their fellow citizens…and to consider the country’s obligations to those veterans. While Veterans Day is officially Nov. 11, because it falls on Saturday, Friday will be considered a federal holiday.

Since 1776, 48 million Americans have served in the armed forces. We honor all veterans who have risked their lives for freedom. Veterans Day is a day to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and enthusiasm to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

More than 2.5 million Americans have served their country since the 9/11 attacks. Each volunteered knowing that it likely meant a combat deployment. In recent years, many of these young men and women have left the service and returned to civilian life.

Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus suggests the best way to honor their service is to help them as they enter the workforce, seeking not just a job, but a career. Military veterans are eager to put to civilian use the skills, work ethic and leadership qualities that they developed while in the uniform.

About 22 percent of U.S. veterans are purchasing, starting or thinking about launching a business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Vets are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than civilians.

It makes sense. Military experience instills specific skills and discipline that are invaluable to be successful entrepreneurs. In the military, there’s never enough time, resources or people, which are the same issues you deal with in operating a small business.

America’s business leaders should lead the way in supporting veterans, most significantly by hiring, training and developing them, Petraeus said recently. “They are not asking for a parade,” he said. “They just ask for your support as they transition from uniformed to civilian life.”


In the 1960s, using a person’s Social Security number as a way to establish a person’s identity seemed like a good, convenient idea. It was a reasonable solution to a problem because the SS number was unique, permanent and used by 80 percent of adults.

Banks used the identifier to solve their problem of matching account records of literally millions of people with the surname of Smith, Jones, Williams and Johnson. There could be 30,000 people in the system named John A. Smith. In those early days they didn’t have cybercriminals who could hack computer systems and steal the private personal data from 100 million accounts.

The SS number system was created in 1936 and was never intended to serve as a personal identification document. Before 1972, the SS card had “Not for Identification” printed on it.

As life became more complicated, banks, insurance companies, credit card issuers, credit-reporting firms and major retailers with millions of customers needed something to help navigate the expanding demands of the digital world. The SS number was a logical answer.

Having a universal, standardized data point for establishing someone’s identity has helped fuel the drive toward seamless digital access to financial services and credit.

Now, after a flurry of security system hacks, policy makers are saying it is time to find a better way to establish an individual’s identity. In October, President Trump’s top cybersecurity official was asked to find a replacement for the SS number as an identifier. It is obvious, the SS number has “outlived its usefulness.”

A few alternatives are available, including ones based on smartphones and biometric data, but they present their own set of problems…and they might hake the process of getting financing, retail transactions and other day-to-day transactions slower and more difficult.

“In the current market we don’t see a viable singular replacement for a SS number,” said Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at counsulting firm Javelin Strategy & Research. There is no foolproof system. The best system can be right one billion times, a cybercriminal only needs to be lucky once.

Creating a new identifier system just adds another layer to our digital identification system. We have ID numbers for everything: credit cards, financial accounts, medical records, consumer accounts and dozens of password-protected records. The SS number is so embedded into the current system that it will take years to wean away from it.

When sophisticated criminal cartels can hack into a credit-reporting firm, such as the recent case with Equifax, and download the personal data of over 100 million individual accounts using high-speed computers in a matter of seconds, we’re made aware of the potential for disaster.

The fact is, it might get worse before it gets better. Brilliant minds are hell-bent on converting every part of our lives to digital. Those brilliant minds haven’t considered the downside consequences of doing so.