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Department of Veteran's Services


Benefits for Former Prisoners of War (P.O.W.)

POW-MIA

  • Background
    Statistics by War
    Compensation
    Medical Care information
    How Do I Get Help or More Information?


      Background             

     

    Former American POWs are eligible for special veterans’ benefits, including medical care in VA hospitals and disability compensation for injuries and disease presumed to be caused by internment. These benefits are in addition to regular benefits and services to which they, as veterans, are entitled.

    Less than half (41 percent) of the Americans held prisoner in the last six conflicts are now living. Some 142,256 Americans were captured and interned during World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and the Somalia Conflict. This includes 81 women seized on Guam or in the Philippines in World War II, and two in the Persian Gulf War.

    Of that total, an estimated 58,832 were living as of Jan. 1, 1997, according to Charles A. Stenger of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association. This includes 30 from World War I, 55,296 from World War II, 2,932 from the Korean Conflict, 550 from the Vietnam Conflict, 23 from the Persian Gulf War, and one from the Somalia Conflict.

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    American Prisoners of War
 

ALL WARS 

Total

WWI

WWII

Korean

Vietnam

Persian Gulf

Somalia/
Bosnia/
Kosovo

Captured & Interned

142,233  

4,120

130,201

7,140

745

23

4

Died while POW

17,034

147

14,072

2,701

144

0

0

Refused Repatriation

21

0

0

21

0

0

0

Returned to U.S. Military Control

125,208

3,973

116,129

4,418

660

23

0

Alive, Jan 1, 1982

93,030

633

87,996

3,770

631

0

0

Alive, Jan 1, 2002

42,781

0

39,179

2,434

601

23

4

 

Congress defines a former prisoner of war as a person who, while serving on active military, naval or air service, was forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by an enemy government or a hostile force, during a period of war or in situations comparable to war.  

Statistical information on American POWs courtesy of Charles A. Stenger of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association.
 


Compensation

Studies have shown that the physical deprivation and psychological stress endured as a captive have life-long effects on subsequent health and on social and vocational adjustment. These studies also indicate vulnerability to psychological stress is increased. 

As of Jan. 2, 1997, a total of 39,147 veterans were receiving VA compensation or pension benefits for 125,806 conditions related to their service and incarceration as a POW.

The laws on former POW benefits recognize that military medical records do not cover periods of incarceration.  A former POW who was detained (or interned) for 30 days or more, are presumed to have incurred and/or aggravated the disability during military service, unless there is evidence of some other cause.

A former POW may be eligible for disability compensation on a presumptive  basis, if at any time after service one of the following disabilities are found  at a  level that is compensable (at least 10 percent disabled):

  • Vitamin deficiency diseases such as Beriberi and Pellagra & Associated Heart Disease

  • Optical Deficiencies

  • Avitiminosis

  • Chronic Dysentery, Helminthiasis, Malnutrition

  • Miscellaneous Nutritional Deficiencies

  • Residuals of frostbite

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

  • Psychosis

  • Any of the anxiety states (including PTSD)

  • Dysthymic Disorder or Depressive Neurosis

  • Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Panic Disorder

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Peptic Ulcer Disease

  • Ischemic Heart Disease (if there was localized edema during captivity).

Compensation is paid based on the degree of disability. 

  • Veterans rated 30 percent or more disabled qualify for dependency allowance. 
  • Dependents of those rated 100-percent disabled may qualify for educational assistance. 
  • Spouses of veterans rated 100-percent disabled for 10 years prior to death and spouses of veterans who die as the result of service-connected disabilities are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation.

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Medical Care 

  • Former POWs are not subject to VA's eligibility assessment and will be provided hospital care. 
  • VA may provide outpatient care without limitation to former POWs. 
  • POWs held for more than 90 days are eligible for any needed dental treatment. 
  • POWs held  less than 90 days are eligible for dental treatment for dental conditions that are service-connected.
     


How Do I Get Help or More Information? 

Veterans Service Representatives are available to discuss POW related claims, as well as any other veterans' related issues with you.   

Contact:

Jeanne Thick, Director
Department of Veteran Services
1101 Beach St.
Flint, MI  48502
(810) 257-3068

Hours:  Monday thru Friday, 8:00 am - 11:45 am
 and 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm 

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