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M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii, Chapter 1, Section G – Claims Based on Former Prisoner of War (FPOW) Status


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic Name

1.  Developing Claims Based on FPOW Status


This topic contains information on developing claims for compensation based on FPOW status, including

Change Date

June 29, 2017

IV.ii.1.G.1.a.  Developing for Service Department Records

When determining former prisoner of war (FPOW) eligibility to benefits, the claims processor must obtain documentation that supports the FPOW status, if evidence to support the claim is not of record.
Follow the steps in the table below to develop for facts and circumstances or certification of FPOW status by the service department.
Generate and send the development letter in the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) titled POW—statement from Veteran and others needed to the claimant and request any information that has not been provided, including
  • the detaining power and circumstances of detention
  • the dates and places of internment
  • supporting statement(s) from former comrades, and
  • any additional supporting documents that are not of record.
Note:  If at any point during the development process the claimant references other individuals who knew of the Veteran’s disabilities in service or shortly thereafter, generate and send to the claimant the development letter in VBMS titled POW—witness of disability in service.
Search the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)website for confirmation of the Veteran’s FPOW status as soon as information necessary to conduct a search is obtained.  (Such information might already be of record, thereby eliminating the need to wait for a response to the development letter(s) referenced in the previous step.)
If the Veteran’s FPOW status is
  • confirmed, go to Step 6, or
  • not confirmed, go to Step 3.


  • The DPAA website provides lists of FPOWs that are organized by conflict and, generally, by the Veteran’s home State of record at the time of internment.
  • Users may attempt to confirm a Veteran’s FPOW status by using the search function on the website, entering search terms such as the name of the war or conflict during which the Veteran was interned.
Search the applicable series maintained on the Access to Archival Databases page of the National Archives and Records Administration website in the Genealogy Personal History: Prisoners of Warsection.
If the Veteran’s FPOW status is
  • confirmed, go to Step 6, or
  • not confirmed, go to Step 4.
Based on the dates of service, send a request to the appropriate service department asking for verification of detention or internment using
  • Personnel Information Exchange System (PIES) code
    • O25 for paper claims, or
    • O50 for electronic claims, or
  • Defense Personnel Records Information Retrieval System (DPRIS) application code SC1.
If the Veteran’s FPOW status is
  • confirmed, go to Step 6, or
  • not confirmed, go to Step 5.
References:  For more information on using
Request confirmation of FPOW status from the Benefits Assistance Service (BAS) by e-mailing VAVBAWAS/CO/OUTREACH with the following information:
  • Veteran’s name and claim number
  • service number (if available)
  • branch and dates of service
  • alleged dates and location of internment
  • alleged detaining power, and
  • any other information relevant to the alleged detainment.
After receipt of a response from BAS, proceed to Step 6.
Reference:  For more information about BAS, see BAS FPOW intranet website.
After completing the necessary attempts to obtain service department findings, use the table below to determine if an administrative decision regarding FPOW status is required.
If …
Then an administrative decision …
the service department findings confirm FPOW status, and the detention or internment was by an enemy government or its agents during a period of war
is not required.
  • the service department findings confirm FPOW status, and the detention or internment was notby an enemy government or its agents during a period of war, or
  • a reasonable basis exists for questioning the service department findings, or lack thereof
is required.
the service department findings and other development do not confirm FPOW status
is required.
References:  For more information on
Note:  When developing for evidence that verifies FPOW status, associate all documentation that supports the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) findings in the Veteran’s claims folder.
Important:  FPOW coordinators must ensure priority attention is given to Veterans who are claiming FPOW status.
Reference:  For more information on requesting service records for FPOWs, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.G.

IV.ii.1.G.1.b.  Contacting Compensation Service

Contact Compensation Service, Policy Staff (211), at VAVBAWAS/CO/VBMS Advisory Requests for guidance, if the response to the request for FPOW service records
  • indicates that no records may be released because they are classified, or
  • is inadequate.
References:  For more information on

IV.ii.1.G.1.c.  Requesting FPOW Examinations

After the Veteran’s FPOW status has been confirmed, request the Former Prisoner of War (POW) Protocol Disability Benefits Questionnaire.
Reference:  For more information on requesting FPOW examinations, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 3.F.3.

IV.ii.1.G.1.d.  Handling Statements From Veterans and Former Comrades

Unless it is inconsistent with other evidence, accept an FPOW’s statement as proof that the claimed disabilities or diseases were incurred during service.  Give careful consideration to the statements of FPOWs and to those of former comrades if offered in support of the claim.
Note:  If statements are inconsistent with other evidence of record, undertake development with the Veteran to clarify any discrepancies.

2.  Verifying FPOW Status for the Defenders of Wake Island


This topic contains information on verifying FPOW status for the defenders of Wake Island, including

Change Date

May 8, 2015

IV.ii.1.G.2.a.  FPOW Status for the Defenders of Wake Island

The civilian employees of Pacific Naval air bases who actively participated in the defense of Wake Island
  • served on active duty from December 8, 1941, until approximately October 1, 1945, and
  • are classified as FPOWs from December 23, 1941, until approximately October 1, 1945.

IV.ii.1.G.2.b. Information  on the DD Form 214 Issued to Civilian Employees of World War II Naval Air Bases

A group of civilian employees were issued a DD Form 214Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, as a part of their service on the naval air bases during World War II.
The REMARKS section of DD Form 214 for defenders of Wake Island should contain
  • the name of the group to which they belonged, and
  • a statement indicating
    • the time period during which they were held as a POW, and
    • that there are no medical or dental records pertaining to that time period.
If unable to locate a DD Form 214 for a specific claim, contact the PIES helpdesk via e-mail at VAVBAWAS/CO/PIES. The e-mail should include the Veteran’s
  • name
  • Social Security number, and
  • service number (if available).

IV.ii.1.G.2.c.  Where to Obtain Medical Records

Do not submit requests for medical records for the defenders of Wake Island to the service department or the National Personnel Records Center.  Requests should be submitted to the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC) office with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Obtain available records, if any, from the following address, using a locally-generated letter:
U.S. Department of Labor
DFEC Central Mailroom
P.O. Box 8300
London, Kentucky 40742
Note:  If available, include the worker’s compensation file number on the request.

IV.ii.1.G.2.d.  Considering FECA Benefits

The defenders of Wake Island are entitled to Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) benefits.
An election between FECA benefits and VA benefits is required.
Note:  Follow the procedures in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.D on FECA benefits and elections upon receipt of a claim for VA benefits.
6-29-17_Key-Changes_M21-1IV_ii_1_SecG.docx May 21, 2019 53 KB
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