Murray Introduces Legislation to Increase POW Benefits

Jun 20 2005

Senate VA Committee to consider legislation at hearing on Thursday

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced legislation to expand the benefits of former American Prisoners of War (POWs).

Murray’s bill, the Prisoner of War Benefits Act of 2005, would provide former POW’s with expanded health care benefits and would eliminate the “minimum-time-held” requirement in order to qualify for these benefits.

“My bill will correct a glaring injustice facing some former American prisoners of war, and it will reaffirm our commitment to all those Americans who were held in captivity while fighting for our freedom,” Senator Murray said. “We know that those who have been prisoners of war often suffer medical problems many years later as a result of their experiences. After all they have endured, the least a grateful nation can do is provide the care these veterans deserve.”

The Prisoners of War Benefits Act of 2005:

  • Repeals the current minimum (30day) period veterans need to be interned before they get some presumptive service connected disabilities.

  • Adds heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes and osteoporosis to the list of presumptive service connected disabilities for former POWs.

  • Sets up the authority for administrative review by the VA to add or remove additional presumptive service connected diseases/conditions for former POWs.

Murray’s legislation builds on her 2003 bill – the Fran W. Agnes Ex-Prisoners of War Benefits Act – which was passed as part of the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2003. The 2003 bill eased restrictions on what qualified as a ‘presumptive’ medical condition based on captivity and eased benefit requirements for POWs of the Korean Conflict and World War II.

Murray’s new bill also eliminates a federal requirement that a POW must have been held for a minimum of 30 days in order to qualify for full POW benefits. Under this current requirement, many POWs of Operation Iraqi Freedom would not qualify.

“The current benefits policy sends the wrong message not only to our brave veterans, but also to the men and women serving our country today. We must expand benefits for all those who sacrifice to protect out country,” Murray said.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, of which Senator Murray is a key member, will consider veterans’ benefits legislation at a hearing this Thursday.