Serving Former POWs


Picture of Persian Gulf POW.

Persian Gulf

Picture of World War II POWs.

World War II

Links You Can Use

VA Benefits for former POWs
and their survivors

Former Prisoners of War

For purposes of disability compensation, Congress has recognized that certain diseases are associated with a former POW's captivity. A former POW must be diagnosed with one or more of the following diseases to a degree of at least 10 percent disabling:

The presumption of association is made for several conditions regardless of the length of captivity:  

  • Psychosis
  • Dysthymic disorder, or depressive neurosis
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • Any of the Anxiety States
  • Organic residuals of frostbite
  • Heart disease or hypertensive vascular disease and their complications
  • Stroke and residuals of stroke

For internment of 30 days or more, the following conditions are presumed to be service-connected.

  • Avitaminosis
  • Chronic Dysentery
  • Helminthiasis
  • Malnutrition, including associated Optic Atrophy deficiency
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease
  • Beriberi
  • Cirrhosis of the Liver
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Pellagra and any other nutritional deficiency
  • Peripheral Neuropathy, except where directly related to infectious causes

Spouses of veterans who die as a result of service-connected disabilities may be eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Public Law 106-117, authorized DIC to those surviving spouses of certain former prisoners of war.  These include those who had died from non-service-connected causes if the former POW was rated totally disabled due to any service-connected cause for a period of one or more years (rather than 10 or more years) immediately prior to death.


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