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POWs Eligible for Purple Heart: The Department of Defense has expanded the criteria for Purple Heart eligibility by allowing prisoners of war who died in captivity to receive the award. Unless compelling evidence is presented to the contrary, DOD’s new policy presumes that the death of service members in captivity as POWs incurred either as a result of enemy action, as a result of enemy action during capture, or in action with the enemy during capture, DOD said in a statement issued Monday. The revised policy allows for retroactive award of the Purple Heart to qualifying POWs since Dec. 7, 1941, DOD said.