WASHINGTON — Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki wants former American prisoners of war to be aware of the benefits and services available to them as Americans across the nation show respect and appreciation during POW-MIA National Recognition Day.
“These veterans made great sacrifices for their country in time of war, and it is our nation’s turn to honor them by reinforcing to them the full range of compensation, health care and benefits they have earned,” said Shinseki.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded policies to cover increasing numbers of former prisoners of war.
Special benefits for former POWs include enrollment in medical care for treatment at VA hospitals and clinics without co-payments and disability compensation for injuries and diseases that are associated with internment.
Former POWs also generally are entitled to a presumption of service connection for certain diseases, based on the length of captivity and the severity of their conditions.
Free dental treatment for any dental condition also is available to former POWs. These benefits are in addition to regular veterans’ benefits and services to which they already are entitled.
A benefit for survivors of former POWs includes Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, which is a monthly benefit that may be payable to the surviving spouse, children and in some cases parents.
More than 15,000 POWs are receiving VA benefits for service-connected injuries, diseases, or illnesses. VA is asking former POWs not using VA benefits to contact the agency at 800-827-1000 to find out if they may be eligible for disability compensation and other services.
Veterans also can apply online at href=”http:///vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp” target=”_blank”>http:///vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp or contact their coordinator for former POWs located at each VA regional office. http:///www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheets/misc/formerpow.doc.