For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

Sunday, September 28, 2003

See also: In The Military

Some POWs may
be due additional
VA benefits

Question: I understand that the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for former prisoners of war. Can you explain why?

Answer: The 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 already receive compensation from VA. However, VA estimates there could be as many as 11,000 more POWs for whom it does not have an address.

The 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. An example is the recent determination that cirrhosis of the liver is a disease for which VA presumes service connection in all former POWs interned or detained for at least 30 days.

Nine out of 10 former POWs are World War II veterans, and their service predates the use of Social Security numbers as military "service numbers." 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.

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

More information is available at, or call the VA at 433-0600.

Q: Who is entitled to military funeral honors?

A: The law entitles all honorably discharged veterans to a military funeral honors ceremony that includes the folding and presenting the burial flag and the playing of Taps. The honor detail must include at least two uniformed military personnel with at lease one from the veteran's service. The Pentagon requires funeral home directors to request military honors on behalf of the veteran's family.

For more information on burial benefits, contact the VA at 433-1000 or call the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at 532-3720.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or visit the VA Web site at
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at


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