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CAS3
09-25-03, 02:46 PM
VA Seeks Former POWs For Possible Benefits

WASHINGTON (Sept. 19, 2003) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
asking former prisoners of war not currently using VA benefits to contact VA
to find out if they may be eligible for disability compensation and other
services.

More than 23,000 former prisoners of war (POWs) already receive compensation
from VA. This year, the department mailed information about benefits to
another 4,700 known ex-POWs not on its rolls. However, VA estimates there
could be as many as 11,000 more POWs for whom it does not have an address.

Today, on National POW-MIA Recognition Day, VA is asking former POWs not
receiving benefits who did not receive a VA letter recently to call the
department at 1-800-827-1000.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi said VA has expanded
policies to cover increasing numbers of former POWs as new illnesses have
been found related to captivity. The administration currently is pressing
to get even more compensation and medical care benefits for former POWs.

"These veterans sacrificed for their country in time of war, and it's the
nation's turn to serve them, to help them determine if they are entitled to
compensation, health care or other services," Principi said.

Nine out of ten former POWs are veterans of World War II, and their service
predates the use of Social Security numbers as a military "service number."
That, coupled with the decades that have elapsed since their service, makes
it difficult for VA to track down those who have not opened a file with VA
in recent years.

"On this POW-MIA Recognition Day, VA is asking veterans and all Americans
who know of a former POW to help spread the word that benefits and services
may be just a phone call away," Principi said.

The most recent expansion of VA benefits for former POWs was a July
regulation that added cirrhosis of the liver to the list of diseases to
which entitlement to disability compensation is presumed in former POWs.

Similar policies making it easier for former POWs to obtain compensation
have been enacted for POWs detained for 30 days or more who develop specific
illnesses.

Former POWs have a special eligibility for enrollment in VA medical care and
are exempt from making copayments for inpatient and outpatient medical care.
They have the same copay rules as other veterans for medications and for
extended care. Free dental treatment for any dental condition is available
to former POWs held for more than 90 days.

More information about VA services for former POWs is available at
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/POW/.