According to Military.com, over 142,000 Americans have been captured as Prisoners of War (POWs) since World War I. Not included are almost 93,000 who were never found, otherwise called MIAs (Missing in Action). Only about a third of POWs are still alive today, 90% of whom were captured in World War II. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the impact of captivity on a military personnel’s psychological and physical well-being, thus, entitling the latter to health and disability benefits. At present, the agency is providing compensation for service-connected injuries to nearly 16,000 POWs.
Studies have shown that the hardships POWs endure during captivity can have a lifelong impact on their health and social adjustment, thereby increasing their susceptibility to psychological stress. Prolonged starvation, as well as exposure to harrowing conditions, can also cause long-term damage to their vital organs.