The Defense Department said Monday that it plans to announce application procedures within the next month or so for a new military medal honoring those who were prisoners of war.
An estimated 142,200 people or their nearest relatives will be eligible to receive the award, which was authorized by Congress two years ago.
The American Legion told its members in November that the Pentagon planned to begin distributing the new medal in December. But Maj. David Super, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday the department is still ironing out administrative details and would not be ready to distribute application forms for at least another month.
Super said the Pentagon will soon establish a toll-free 800 telephone number for use in requesting an application form. The forms will also be made available to veterans' organizations and at Veterans Administration hospitals and facilities.
When the forms are available, the application process will take about 45 to 90 days because of the need to verify military records, Super said. The medal was authorized for any American serviceman taken prisoner during World War I or later conflicts and will be issued without charge.
The medal shows an eagle surrounded by barbed wire and bayonet points and includes the inscription: "For Honorable Service While A Prisoner of War."