According to Military.com, over 142,000 Americans have been captured as Prisoners of War (POWs) since World War I. Not included are almost 93,000 who were never found, otherwise called MIAs (Missing in Action). Only about a third of POWs are still alive today, 90% of whom were captured in World War II. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the impact of captivity on a military personnel’s psychological and physical well-being, thus, entitling the latter to health and disability benefits. At present, the agency is providing compensation for service-connected injuries to nearly 16,000 POWs.
Studies have shown that the hardships POWs endure during captivity can have a lifelong impact on their health and social adjustment, thereby increasing their susceptibility to psychological stress. Prolonged starvation, as well as exposure to harrowing conditions, can also cause long-term damage to their vital organs. As such, with the help of veterans disability lawyers, they can be entitled to receive compensation for injuries, illnesses and diseases including, but not limited, to the following:
- Malnutrition, including associated Optic Atrophy
- Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis
- Chronic Dysentery
- Peripheral Neuropathy, except where directly related to infectious causes
- Pellagra and any other nutritional deficiency
- Organic Residuals of Frostbite
- Beriberi, including Beriberi Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Dysthymic Disorder, or Depressive Neurosis
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Any degree of Anxiety
VA recognizes that military records do not reflect the period of captivity. POWs detained for 30 days or more are generally entitled to the presumption that any of the above conditions, which have manifested after discharge from active service to a degree that is at least 10% disabling, are service-connected.
Compensation is based on the extent of disability. POWs found to be 30% or more disabled may qualify for additional benefits based on their number of dependents. Dependents of POWs who are 100% disabled may be eligible for educational assistance as well. Spouses of former POWs rated 100% disabled and who died as a result of service-connected disabilities are also qualified for dependency and indemnity compensation.
Many POWs return from war and think they had survived it just fine. They just wish to be home with their family and live as regular citizens, never even thinking of filing for VA benefits. In many cases, unfortunately, damage won’t make itself known until a certain period has lapsed from the time they are released from service. Ex-POWs and their family should be watchful of the early signs, seek medical attention right away, and apply for compensation with the help of a veterans disability lawyer, such as Jan Dils, Attorney At Law.
Disability Compensation for Former Prisoners of War (POWs), Benefits.VA.Gov
Former Prisoners of War, Military.com