Privacy and Security of Your Information
Information we ask you to provide
To use VetChange, you must provide a user ID that you create (this does not have be your real name), a password that you create, your age, and your sex. We need this information to provide you with personalized guidance. If you decide not to provide this information, you cannot register for VetChange but you can still find other help on the resources page.
You have the option to provide your email address when you register, which will allow you to retrieve your username and reset your password if you forget. We also ask your ethnicity and Veteran status to help us understand who is using the site. Once registered, in order to gain the most benefit from VetChange you will have the option to enter additional personal information such as your thoughts, feelings, goals and strategies for cutting back or stopping your drinking, or reducing your stress. You may also choose to provide your mobile phone number to receive text messages from VetChange.
How we use the information you provide
The main purpose for the information we collect is to provide you feedback on your drinking and what it might mean for you, and also to offer you new ways of approaching things that may help you decrease any alcohol misuse and trauma-related problems that may trigger drinking. Some of the information that is saved will be presented to you again in future sessions. Information that you enter into the optional questionnaires will be used to present you with helpful feedback.
We will also collect anonymous summary statistics about patterns of use on the tools and pages on VetChange, in order to improve the service.
How your information is protected
Your participation and all your information will be kept confidential. Only authorized people (as explained below) have access to your information. VetChange uses secure databases and servers to store your data, and all data is transmitted, stored, and processed in a secure environment. All of your information is protected by firewalls, encryption, authenticated access, physical access control, policies for technical personnel, and other means to prevent access by anyone who is not supposed to see it. All systems are patched, monitored and scanned routinely for vulnerabilities and intrusions.
You are not required to provide identifying information to use VetChange. You may register and log in with an anonymous user ID and password. However, if you choose to provide an email address or mobile phone number in order to receive emails and text messages that may enhance your use of the service, you may tie your identity to data you enter. We take many safety measures to protect your privacy, but we cannot guarantee that your identity will never be known.
It is also important that you help maintain the privacy of your data on VetChange by keeping your login username and password secret, and also securing access to your email account and/or cell phone number if you choose to provide them. If you are worried that someone else may be using your login information, please let us know immediately, or change your password yourself through the My Profile setting page. Please note that emails and text messages you may choose to receive are not encrypted and should not be considered secure. Because of this, we only send emails and text messages with general information that doesn’t mention drinking or other specific health concerns.
Who has access to your information
You have continual access to your individual data. This access is available to you by entering the user name and password you created at registration.
In general, under federal law, identifiable health information is private. However, there are exceptions to this rule. In some cases, others may see your identifiable health information for purposes of administrative oversight, quality control, public health and safety, or law enforcement. VetChange administrators and contractors (computer programmers) will have access so that they may perform maintenance, troubleshooting, and updates to VetChange. We share your health information only when we must, and we ask anyone who receives it from us to protect your privacy. We will never sell, rent, or lease your information, and we will never voluntarily share identifying information about you without your permission.
Browser Cookies and IP Addresses
VetChange employs browser cookies to keep you logged into the website and anonymously associate your browsing activity with your stored data in order to personalize the information you see. VetChange does not link browser cookies with any information you submit during your site visit.
To improve the effectiveness of our program, VetChange utilizes cookies, web beacons, and similar technologies from third parties who collect or receive information from our website and use that information to provide measurement services and target ads. We employ these technologies only on web pages that do not require a VetChange registration or login, not on pages you visit after signing in. We cannot personally identify you with this data, nor do we tie it to information you submit on VetChange. You may opt out of the collection of this data and its use for advertising at http://www.aboutads.info/choices.
VetChange logs IP addresses, or the location of your computer on the Internet, whenever you request a web page from VetChange.org. For security reasons, VetChange records your logged IP address when you register for an account, and stores it in your data record. We do not use IP address logs to otherwise track your session or your behavior on our site, nor to personally identify you. We use your IP address solely for security systems administration and troubleshooting purposes.