Here is a recent letter from the head of the VA, of interest to all former prisoners of war - particularly the 11,000 who have never received any of the benefits to which they are entitled:
THE SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
April 2, 2004
MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY
One of the highest priorities here at the Department of Veterans Affairs is meeting the needs of former prisoners of war. They are extraordinary men and women who have endured captivity, suffered extreme deprivation, and sacrificed their own freedom to preserve the freedom of all Americans.
In recent years, VA benefits and services for former prisoners of war have been improved and expanded. However, there may be as many as 11,000 former POWs who are not receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.
I am asking you to join me in locating these veterans and inviting them to take advantage of the benefits being offered by a grateful nation. Since most missing former POWs are World War II veterans, we must act as quickly as possible to find them and their survivors.
I urge you to use the resources available to you as a VA employee and to use any available network or group in your community to assist in this outreach effort.
You can help these former POWs by encouraging them to contact VA through a local/county/state veterans' service office, by calling 1-800-827-1000, or by looking at VA's POW Web site: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/POW/index.htm.
This may be the last chance for these selfless Americans and their survivors to receive the benefits they have earned. Let's be sure they do.
S/ Anthony J. Principi