collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I
If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of
kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that
come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if
Important Information for America's
Ex-POWs and their
Monthly Benefit and Entitlements
Former American Prisoners of War are eligible for special veterans
benefits, including medical care in VA hospitals and disability
compensation for injuries and diseases caused by internment. These
benefits are in addition to regular veterans benefits and services to
which they, as veterans, are entitled
The American Ex-Prisoners of War (
www.axpow.org ) has funded studies on the long term aftereffects of
the incarceration on the Prisoner of War. Their National
Service Officer's (NSO) will help you to present this
information to the VA and make sure that you as a former POW receive the
full amount you are legally entitled to receive based on your current medical
condition. As with
most government forms it is usually not "what" you say but rather
"how" you say it that will determine how much you will qualify for.
As a prisoner
of war the starvation, exposure to the elements and other things
encountered by the Prisoner of War have been proven to cause long term damage, of
which you may not be aware, to vital organs. Now, fifty
plus years later many common conditions that you may now have (like
arthritis, heart disease, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, etc.)
can be directly traced back to your incarceration as a prisoner of war and
as such you are entitled to receive VA disability compensation for them.
Many POWs returned from the
war and thought they had come out of it okay, they were just glad to be
home and wanted to get on with their lives and they never even considered
filing for any VA benefits. Today we know better and it has been
proven that there was damage done to them that did not show up for many
years, in most cases. So please contact a National Service Officer
with the AXPOW to help you get thoroughly checked and apply for these
benefits. Also most of our ex-POWs are very reluctant to ask for anything
and many need to be pushed to even apply for these benefits. The
American EX-POW organization says, "if you don't want to do it for
yourself, then please do it for you wife - she will continue to receive
these benefits (but at a reduced rate) after you pass if you are rated
The NSO's will take your medical information and fill out the
paperwork, pointing out to the VA the things that you (as an ex-POW) currently have that the
government has already agreed to accept as direct effects of the
incarceration (called "presumptives").
If for some reason
you are not approved for the full 100% the NSO's will continue to help you with
getting the paperwork right until you do qualify for the full 100%. Once you
achieve a 60% disability rating then the NSO will re-file for you after
obtaining a certificate from a doctor that states you are no longer
employable (mostly due to age) and the VA
will usually then give you the remaining 40% to achieve the full 100%. (If
you are currently at 60% please note there is more to be had.) The
AXPOW NSO'S have been very successful in securing these benefits for many of our
ex-POWs. (Note - once you achieve 100% you qualify for PX
privileges and other benefits.)
There is no charge and you do not have to be a
member of AXPOW to receive their assistance. They are trying to find you so they can help you!!
The amount that is paid to someone
who has qualified at the full 100% rating is $2,287.00 (tax-free)
I can not stress enough the
importance of not doing this yourself or having your very bright son or
daughter do it for you. I have been telling POWs and families about
this for 2 years now and some still do not "get it" and they call the VA on
their own make an appointment and ARE TURNED DOWN or get a very small
rating and wonder why. Then they are told if they want to appeal it
could take YEARS. That is when I hear from them again, and I ask
"Did you use an AXPOW NSO?" and they say "No". So, please do it right the
first time, let the American Ex-POW
National Service Officers help you. They know 'how" to present a POW's
claim to the VA. Remember It can mean all the difference in the world
whether you use one or not.
The AXPOW National Service Officers (NSO's)
are in almost all states and they have
received extensive training and they know "how" to complete the
application in order to get the ex-POW the maximum amount they are legally
qualified to receive. Most NSO's
are either ex-POW's or the next of kin of an ex-POW and they really want to help
our ex-POWs get the maximum they deserve.
the website at
www.axpow.org/entitlements to find a NSO if you are an ex-POW and are
not receiving 100%. They are listed by state, but you may chose to
use anyone of them - state does not matter.
And if you know any other ex-POWs or their widows please have them contact the American Ex-Prisoners of War
Organization's National Service Officers.
My Dad died 22 years ago of a
massive heart attack
and we never knew that Mother could be receiving these benefits, which
include a monthly tax free
check for $911.00, until I attended my first annual convention of the AXPOWs. I
insisted that she apply and with the help of a wonderful NSO, she has recently been approved to receive her benefits as the widow of
Guestbook messages from some of the AXPOW National Service Officers:
I am a National Service Officer in SE Florida with an office at the W. Palm
Beach VA. We are looking for all exPOWs who are not getting compensation and
other benefits that are available for you. Please if you are not involved with
the VA contact me at home by mail or email or phone 561 488 6155 Our job is to
help you to enjoy what you earned serving your country
Sent: 9.25 PM - 4/5 2001
Looking for any Ex-Prisoners of War who are NOT getting 100% VA compensation.
Contact me on e-mail at email@example.com.
I'll forward information.
Guestbook messages from other Ex-POWs:
Name: Paul T. Haggerty
Homepage: 12 Fischer Dr. Apt 3E
Hometown: North Kingstown, RI 02852
POW Camp:: Stalag Luft I
Name of POW:: Paul T. Haggerty Although I live in Rhode
Island I attended a conference for New England ex-POW's on April 19, 2002 at the
Volpe center in Boston, MA. It was sponsored by the Mass POWs and the Mass VA
At the conference we were told that only about 30% of ex-POWs are getting
100% disability payments and only 1 wife in 60 is getting benefits after her
ex-POW dies. Dr. Jerrold Johnston was the guest speaker. He is a member of the
national ex-POW advisory committee, Washington, DC. And the physician
coordinator, VAMC Reno, Nevada. He told us that there are a lot more
presumptives for the POWs now and almost every WWII ex-POW would almost be
automatic for 100% disability. Don't wait any longer, get down and sign up. Call
your VA representative now. Remember your retroactive starts the day you sign
If you don't know what to do, call the Boston, Massachusetts VA and they will
get you started. They are a great bunch and really take care of any ex-POW
regardless of what state you are from. Remember if you are an ex-POW and you are
getting 100% disability and you die, your wife is eligible for over $900 a month
as a widow. I don't know what else to say except don't wait any longer.
Paul T. Haggerty Commander RI ex-POWs.
From my E-mail Inbox:
In October 2000, after publishing this page
encouraging the former POWs to apply for their benefits, I received the
following email from a POW:
"I am quite aware of the pow benefits program as well as their
"presumptives". I have been under the V.A. care for the last 15 years.
The $2,000 per month is possible if you have at least 50% disability rating.
The trick is getting the rating. The V. A. erects a sizeable hurdle in order
to receive these benefits and they certainly pay no attention to the word
presumptive. You must PROVE your disabilities
I went through the "Protocol Physical" at their request.
I have Diabetes as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis (in my hands) both of which
are not recognized as presumptives. At the time I took the physical I had
been prescribed and was taking 5 mg Valium for the last 19 years in order to
sleep. I had a medical history of back trouble and still have a compressed
disk which causes a pinched nerve and pain in my legs and back. I took
enough pain pills to cause a bleeding ulcer a while back and was forced to
discontinue them. All of this is of record. I have applied for re-rating two
additional times with no success. I was originally awarded a 10% disability
rating for of all things "Neurosis". I guess I am neurotic because I still
have the same rating and receive a grand an glorious $98.00 monthly. So much
for the $2,000 monthly.
I very much appreciate the doctor I go to as well as the diabetic
medications that are furnished by the V.A. because this is not an
insignificant benefit I feel their care has enabled me to remain in
substantially good health over the years. Other POW's seem to have it much
worse than I do and I am thankful. I just felt you might like to hear how
the system works."
I wrote the following back to him:
"As for your benefits, I can't believe that is all you
are getting. I know several other POWs that seem to be in much better
health than what you describe (one recently passed his FAA physical test to
fly planes again at age 76) that are receiving the 100%. Are you using the
services of a National Service Officer? I know that the 2 guys I am
thinking of that are
getting 100% have told me that the AXPOW National Service Officer's help
was invaluable to them, as they knew how to present their case to get them
approved. Please let me know if you are using a NSO or not, and if you are
not I would highly recommend your getting them involved to help you as their
services are free."
Then in August 2001, I received the
following email from him:
"I have tried 6-7 times to call you during the past 6 weeks to thank you
for your suggestion that I should reapply for a re-rating of my POW
The reason I need to thank you is that last October I did re-apply and in
June they completed their findings after sending me to two outside doctors
as well as checking about 17 years worth of their records. Gratefully they
raised me from 10% to 100%. This is totally unbelievable to me. I am
I wanted to personally thank you for your help ! SO THANKS !
While you are headed East I will be headed West to
Seattle for 5 days for a fighter squadron reunion and sightseeing. I had
decided not to go because of the expense but when the 100% rating came
through I reconsidered. I should have told you that they paid for seven
months back pay from the time I applied last October. They sent me just
short of $14,000.00. I was completely overwhelmed and thought about it
almost constantly for several days.
I have to pass on something that I think is funny. A few days after I
received the letter which was several pages in length, I got a very thin
letter with a V.A. return address and the first thought that ran through my
mind was that it was all a mistake and they were changing their mind."
Here is an email I received
4/23/2002 from a daughter of a POW. Her father died of a sudden
heart attack years ago. I encouraged her to have her Mother apply for
"My mom received a letter from
the VA that she is approved to receive my Dad's POW benefits. This will be
such a great help to my Mom. Praise the lord! Thank you again and God
From the AXPOW website:
What is a National Service Officer?
Recently a person inquired about Service Officers and what they
do, and also asked if it is necessary to have a Service Officer to file a claim.
In reply to the first query, a Service Officer is an advocate
for the veteran, and is not an adversary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He or she helps a claimant in preparing a well-grounded claim. The Service
Officer is thoroughly familiar with the process and will assist from the
development of a claim to the final adjudication.
Many former POWs do not consider all of the things that happened
to them while they were in an enemy's hands - the physical abuse, such as forced
marches, or beatings, the mental abuse of being questioned over and over again
about military matters, and spending time in solitary confinement, or other
forms of torture. Were you well fed, did you have adequate clothing and
housing, and have leisure time in the company of your buddies?
Unfortunately not. Maybe you managed to get along fairly well right after
you returned home, but how are you feeling now - 50 or 55 years later?
There are 20 PRESUMPTIVES - you'll find them listed often in
MedSearch, in the EX-POW BULLETIN - a Service Officer can review these with you
and see which ones apply to your case. For example, if your feet were
frozen while you were in prison camp, and you now have swollen feet and ankles,
they may be associated with some heart problems. Only a doctor can make
the decision, but the Service Officer can help you write your history so the
facts are presented.
You and your spouse can sit down with an NSO, go carefully over
the necessary forms, and then talk you about what is happening in your life that
may make you eligible for compensation. He or she will make no promises,
but will put forth every effort to assist you.
In order to work with you, a POW Service Officer must have a
Power of Attorney, issued to the American Ex-Prisoners of War. This has
nothing to do with any of your financial arrangements; it is ONLY to grant
authority to use your military records as needed to back up your claim for
disability compensation. And by the way, don't neglect to try for
compensation - it isn't a handout; you have earned every penny!
As to the second question - no, one does not need a Service
Officer in order to file a claim - but why not take advantage the knowledge
available through one? These men and women are volunteers, and they are
Ex-POWs or next of kin who are ready and willing to help you get what you
deserve. Click here to find
a listing of these officer's located near you. And remember if you
don't apply for yourself, consider applying for your spouse's benefit as this
compensation will pass on to them.
Benefits for all
honorably discharged veterans
VETERANS TAKE THEIR MEDICINE
All honorably discharged veterans are entitled to obtain prescriptions
through the Veterans Affairs prescription program. The cost is $2 for a
month's supply and vets can continue receiving the medicine as long as
they need it. Low income veterans receive prescriptions for no charge.
It does not matter whether you have private health insurance or not.
To enter the program, veterans should contact the nearest VA
facility. They will be required to take a routine physical, which
includes x-rays and lab work if necessary. There is no charge to low
income vets for the physical. Others may use their insurance to defray
the cost. Prescriptions can be set to you by mail at no shipping charge