Former prisoners of war (POWs) have shown extraordinary bravery and selflessness for the sake of their nation. The VA provides exceptional benefits and assistance to these outstanding soldiers to honor their bravery and tenacity.
This article will discuss former POWs' eligibility for VA benefits and how they might improve their life.
What is a Former Prisoner of War (POW)?
A former prisoner of war, or POW, is a former armed forces member held hostage by an enemy force. This does not apply to those who have been captive for too long. The VA recognizes everyone who was a prisoner of war, regardless of how long they spent in captivity.
Presumed Conditions Covered
The VA recognizes the psychological and physiological effects of captivity during combat. They do this by providing several forms of benefits to former prisoners of war, depending on how long they were held:
- Former POWs Held Captive for Any Length of Time:
A military member may qualify for benefits even if they were only kept prisoner for a short time if they meet the presumed conditions. Among them are the following:
- Psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety and depressive disorders
- Cognitive impairments
- Chronic pain syndromes
- Frostbite and frostbite-related tissue damage
- Osteoarthritis due to injury
- Stroke and stroke-related problems (including memory loss, loss of speech, or weakness in an extremity)
- Hypertensive vascular disease, hypertensive heart disease, and hypertension-related problems
- Neuropsychiatric condition
- Dysthymic disorder
- Former POWs Held Captive for 30 Days or More:
Additional benefits from the VA are available to anyone who was kept hostage for 30 days or longer. Former prisoners of war who were held for extended periods may be eligible for compensation in addition to the circumstances listed above, including:
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Tropical diseases
- Osteoporosis (with certain limitations)
- Peripheral neuropathy, except where directly related to an illness caused by an infection
- Peptic ulcer disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Nutritional deficiency, including avitaminosis, beriberi (including beriberi heart disease), malnutrition (including optic atrophy connected to malnutrition), and pellagra
VA Benefits for Former Prisoners of War (POWs)
Veterans in captivity are eligible for various VA benefits to help them recover from the trauma they experienced. Among these benefits are:
- Disability Compensation: POWs who suffer from service-related injuries are eligible for disability compensation. The severity of impairment is a key factor in determining the amount of compensation.
- Healthcare: Veterans Affairs provides full medical coverage, including access to specialist treatments for assumed ailments, to those who qualify as former prisoners of war.
- Mental Health Services: The VA provides mental health treatments, counseling, and therapy for POWs experiencing mental health difficulties, including PTSD.
- Pension Benefits: Former POWs who do not qualify for disability compensation may be eligible for a VA pension unrelated to military service.
- Educational Benefits: Veterans Affairs may provide financial aid for the higher education of a former prisoner of war's spouse and any dependent children.