More than 135 Utah veterans will receive the most recent decoration issued by the Department of Defense - the Prisoner of War Medal - in a ceremony April 8 at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda.

The Prisoner of War Medal was approved by Congress in 1985. On June 24, 1988, President Reagan presented the first medals to six former POW's - two each from the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II. The medals' circular decoration depicts a golden eagle, wings outstretched, ringed by bayonets and barbed wire with a red, white, blue and black ribbon.Some 78,000 former POWs survive today; nearly 230 reside in Utah.

VA officials say eligibility for the medal are broad and not limited to military personnel or even to a war, so long as capture occurred after April 5, 1917. All individuals serving with armed forces in any capacity who were taken prisoner and held captive in action against the United States are eligible.

Former POWs or their next of kin who have not made arrangements to receive a medal can apply by calling 1-800-873-3768.