World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

POW Benefits


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I

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The Evacuation
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POW Benefits
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Important Information for America's Ex-POWs and their families:

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 ( ) 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 100%".

    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) per month.     

     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.

       So visit the website at 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 a POW.


Guestbook messages from some of the AXPOW National Service Officers:

Name: Irwin Stovroff
Homepage: 7374 Woodmont Ct.
Hometown: Boca Raton, Fl. 33434
POW Camp:: Stalag 1

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

Name: Irving Lerner
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 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 department.
   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 up.
   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 disability rating.

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 astounded. 

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 his benefits:

"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 Bless"


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
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 to you.

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.