Who Are Former Prisoners of War?
Since World War I, more than 142,000 Americans, including 85 women, have been captured and interned as POWs. Not included in this figure are nearly 93,000 Americans who were lost or never recovered.
Only one fifth of America’s former POWs since World War I are still living (about 22,641). More than 90% of living former POWs were captured and interned during World War II. About 15,367 former POWs are in receipt of compensation for service-connected injuries, diseases, or illnesses.
In 1981, Congress passed Public Law 97-37 entitled “Former Prisoners of War Benefit Act.” This law accomplished several things. It established an Advisory Committee on Former Prisoners of War and mandated medical and dental care. It also identified certain diagnoses as presumptive service-connected conditions for former POWs.
Subsequent public laws and policy decisions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs have added additional diagnoses to the list of presumptive conditions.
WWI to Modern Day
What Are the Presumptive Conditions for Former POWs?
Today, former POWs are generally entitled to a presumption of service-connection for eight diseases, regardless of the length of captivity, if manifested to a degree of 10 percent or more after discharge or release from active military, naval, or air service.
Dysthymic disorder or depressive neurosis
Any of the Anxiety States
Stroke and Complications
Heart Disease and Complications
Osteoporosis, on or after October 10, 2008, when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is diagnosed
POWs Interned for 30 Days or More
If a former POW was interned for 30 days or more, the following additional diseases are presumed to be service-connected.
Malnutrition, including associated Optic Atrophy
Any other nutritional deficiency
Peptic Ulcer Disease
Cirrhosis of the Liver
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Pellagra and any other nutritional deficiency
Peripheral Neuropathy, except where directly related to infectious causes
Osteoporosis, on or after September 28, 2009