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“(1) (A) a chronic disease becoming manifest to a degree of 10 per centum or more within one year from

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the date of separation from service, or

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"(B) a chronic disease becoming manifest to a de

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gree of 10 per centum or more within ten years from the

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date of separation from such service in the case of a veteran held as a prisoner of war for six months or more

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during such service.”.

9 SEC. 3. That section 312 of title 38, United States Code, 10 is amended by inserting immediately after subparagraph 11 (a) (5) thereof the following new subparagraph.

"(6) chronic bronchitis or chronic bronchial 13 asthmas developing a 10 per centum degree of disability 14 or more within ten years from the date of separation 15 from such service in the case of a veteran held as a pris

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SEC. 4. That section 314 of title 38, United States Code,

18 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new

19 section:

20 "(t) If the veteran was detained through no misconduct 21 of his own, for a period of six months or more, such detained

22 status shall be deemed to be a disability within the meaning

23 of section 310 and is authorized if the captor government

24 persistently and grossly violated the provisions of the Geneva 25 Convention Relative to Treatment of Prisoners of War.”.

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Sec. 5. That subchapter VI of chapter 11 of title 38,

2 United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof

3 the following new section:

4 “8 361. Disability rating for certain former prisoners of

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6 “Any veteran who was a prisoner of war for six months 7 or more shall, for the purpose of this title, be deemed to have 8 a service-connected disability rating of 50 per centum. For 9 the purpose of this section, the term “prisoner of war' means

10 any veteran who while on active duty was held as a prisoner

11 of war for more than six months during World War II, the

12 Korean conflict, the Pueblo incident or during the Vietnam

13 conflict.".

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SEC. 6. That chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code,

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15 is amended by adding the following new section:

“SEC. 363. Notwithstanding the provisions of 312 (b) 17 and (c) of this chapter, any veteran of the United States

18 Armed Forces who has been held a prisoner of war, or who

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was detained by an enemy agent of the United States, for

20 a period of six months or more, shall be deemed to have suf21 fered a permanent disability and be entitled to a disability 22 rating of not less than 50 per centum following such service.".

SEC. 7. That subsection (a) (4) of section 610 of title 2+ 38, U'nited States Code, is amended by inserting “(A)" im35 mediately after “such veteran,” and by striking out the period

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1 and inserting the following: “; or (B) was a prisoner of war 2 for more than six months during a period of war and claims 3 such disability is to any extent attributable to, or has been to 1

any extent aggravated by, such internment, unless the Ad5 ministrator finds such claim to be without fact or merit.”.

6 SEC. 8. That the first sentence of section 612 (a) of title 7 38, United States Code, is amended by striking out the period 8 at the end thereof and inserting the following: “; or a non9 service-connected disability described in section 610 (a) (4)

10 (B) of this title.”.

[No. 15]

COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS, U.S. SENATE

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION,
OFFICE OF THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.C., June 9, 1975.
Hon. VANCE HARTKE,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: We are pleased to respond to your request for a report on S. 1432, 94th Congress.

Section 1 of this bill would deem any veteran held during any period of war as a prisoner of war for not less than 6 months to have a permanent service-connected disability evaluated as 50 percent disabling. Veterans eligible under this section would also be afforded commissary privileges, Sections 2 and 3 propose to amend section 312 of title 38, United States Code, to grant service connection for a chronic disease, including chronic bronchitis and chronic bronchial asthma, becoming manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more within 10 years from date of separation in the case of veterans held as prisoners of war for 6 months or more.

Section 4 of S. 1432 would add a new subsection to 38 U.S.C. 314, to provide that if a veteran was detained through no misconduct of his own for 6 months or more, such detained status shall be deemed to be a service-connected disability if the captor government persistently and grossly violated the provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to Treatment of Prisoners of War. The proposed text is not clear and it appears that additional words may have been unintentionally omitted. Section 5 provides that any veteran who was a prisoner of war for 6 months or more shall, for the purpose of this title, be deemed to have a service-connected disability evaluated as 50 percent disabling. The term “prisoner of war" for the purpose of section 5 is stated as meaning any veteran who while on active duty was held as a prisoner of war for more than 6 months during World War II, the Korean conflict, the Pueblo incident or during the Vietnam conflict. To a major degree, this section seems duplicative of the first section of the measure, supra.

Section 6 also provides for a 50 percent service-connected rating for certain prisoners of war, like the first and fifth sections of the bill. Sections 7 and 8 provide for entitlement to hospital, domiciliary and nursing home care and medical treatment (except dental), for any condition as if it were service-connected for a veteran who was a prisoner of war for more than 6 months.

Under existing law (38 U.S.C. 355), the Administrator of Veterans Affairs is required to adopt and apply a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity from specific injuries or combinations of injuries. The law provides that the ratings shall be based, so far as

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practicable, upon the average impairment of earning capacity resulting from such injuries in civil occupations. Under existing Veterans' Administration procedures for evaluating the disability resulting from injuries and diseases, the ratings assigned to disabled veterans—including former prisoners of war-are based on the extent or severity of the disabling manifestations in the individual case.

Former prisoners of war are given special consideration under the laws administered by the Veterans' Administration, and our regulations and directives also contain liberal provisions with respect to the claim of any such person for disability compensation or other benefits based on service-incurred ccaggravated disability. Section 354(a) of title 38, United States Code, requires that in the adjudication of service connection for any disability due consideration will be given to the places, types, and circumstances of service. Section 354 (b) provides liberalized criteria for determining service connection of any disease or injury for those veterans who engaged in combat with the enemy.

Veterans Administration regulations emphasizing the liberality which is accorded prisoner of war cases include, for example, a provision that the development of symptomatic manifestations of a preexisting injury or disease during or closely following a status as a prisoner of war will establish aggravation. Physical examinations of former prisoners of war are conducted with particular thoroughness and all disabilities common to prisoners of war are searched for even when they are not complained of. Further, existing instructions provide that in the evaluation of disabilities resulting from or incident to military service great weight must be assigned to imprisonment or internment under unsanitary conditions or to food deprivation in the service connection of dysentery and other gastrointestinal diseases. All of these conditions permit the Veterans' Administration to reach an equitable decision on the basis of the facts of each individual case, with any reasonable doubts being resolved in favor of the former prisoner of war.

Congress has recognized the extraordinary hardship of prisoners of war as evidenced by its enactment of Public Law 91-376. This law presumes service connection for certain dietary diseases and for psychosis manifested to a degree of 10 percent or more within 2 years from the date of separation from service for veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam era who were held as prisoners of war for not less than 6 months. Such prisoners afe deemed to have suffered from dietary deficiencies, forced labor or inhumane treatment. Nonetheless, this law, while establishing service connection for such diseases, does not provide for a set evaluation of such disease or disability. This remains a determination to be made by the Veterans' Administration under its Schedule for Rating Disabilities based upon the individual facts.

In addition to granting service connection for disability compensation purposes in a substantial number of cases, the bill, if enacted, would confer the same priority right in such cases to hospitalization and domiciliary and nursing home care by the Veterans' Administration which is now afforded by law to veterans having directly serviceconnected conditions. Under existing law, the Veterans' Administration is required to furnish-hospital care to eligible veterans needing

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