Former prisoners of war (POW) are Veterans who, during active military service, were forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by an enemy government or its agents or a hostile force.
Additionally, Veterans serving in the active military service during peacetime, who were forcibly detained or interned by a foreign government or its agents or a hostile force are also considered former POWs if the circumstances of the internment were comparable to wartime internment (for example: Iran, Somalia or Kosovo).
More than one-half million Americans have been captured and interned as POWs since the American Revolution. Not included in this figure are nearly 93,000 Americans who were listed as lost and never recovered.
Former Prisoners of War Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. See our Veterans page for an overview of the benefits available to all Veterans.
Each VA Regional Office has a POW Veterans Outreach Coordinator who is a direct point of contact for you to learn more about what benefits you qualify for, assist you with applying for those benefits, and refer you to other organizations and resources that will help you meet your needs.
Find your local POW Veterans Outreach Coordinator at the nearest VA Regional Office
Former POWs are eligible for VA disability compensation for disabilities related to their military service and captivity. Certain conditions are presumed to be related to time in captivity. These presumptive disabilities are based on studies of the long-term effects of captivity, deprivation, trauma, and cold injury on former POWs.
Learn more about Disability Compensation for former POWs
Former POWs who have a service-connected disability are eligible for VA health care. This includes hospital, nursing home, and outpatient treatment. Former POWs who do not have a service-connected disability are eligible for VA hospital and nursing home care without regard to their ability to pay. Additionally, former POWs without a service-connected disability are eligible for outpatient care on a priority basis.
Learn more about VA Health Care
Dependents and survivors may be eligible for compensation, pension, health care, education, and home loan benefits. Typically, these benefits are available to a surviving spouse, dependent child(ren), and/or parent(s) of a deceased former POW or a former POW with a service-connected disability.
Learn more about VA benefits for Dependents and Survivors
The specific VA benefit or program web page will provide tailored information about how to apply for a particular benefit or program. Generally, Servicemembers, Veterans, and families can apply for VA benefits using one of the methods below.