South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
New FPOW coordinator
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Directive outlines policy for the implementation of an education and certification program for designated clinician members of the Special Former Prisoners of War (FPOW) Care and Benefits Team. As a result, VA medical centers and VA regional offices have developed highly effective and efficient teams dedicated to outreach and identification of FPOW, processing their disability claims, and providing them with needed clinical services. It is VHA policy that Special FPOW Care and Benefit Teams are certified at appropriate sites across the VA health care system. (VHA Directive 2008-040)
Former American POWs are eligible for special Veterans benefits, including enrollment in Department of VA medical care for treatment in VA hospitals and clinics without co-payments as disability compensation for injuries and diseases that have been associated with internment, but they have the same co-pay rules as other Veterans for extended care. These benefits are in addition to regular Veterans benefits and services to which they, as Veterans, are entitled. (FPOW VA Fact Sheet, 2008).
Congress defined a prisoner of war as a person who, while serving on active duty, was forcibly detained by an enemy government or hostile force, during a period of war in situations comparable to war.
Studies have shown that the physical hardships and psychological stress endured by POWs have life-long effects on health and on social and vocational adjustment.
VA periodically has provided training for its medical staff about FPOWs, and online curriculum is maintained at http://www1.va.gov/VHI/page.cfm?pg=9.
The new FPOW Advocate for the South Texas Veterans Health Care System is Faith Baker, Social Work Service, and she can be reached at (210) 617- 5300 ext. 13621