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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please help me get this message out to the thousands of former prisoners of war from World War II and the Korean War.

As a former POW shot down over Germany in World War II, I am now a volunteer helping other ex-POWs to present their claims to our Department of Veterans Affairs. Over the past 25 years, congressional legislation has identified more than 20 maladies caused by prisoner-of-war experiences in Japan, Germany and Korea. Special benefits are available to all former POWs suffering from heart disease, residual frostbite, malnutrition, post-traumatic arthritis, delayed stress, neuropathy and other maladies.

Only one-third of ex-POWs have responded to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their entitlements. This means there are thousands of veterans in their 70s and 80s who are not aware that this help is available to them. We, who are accredited American ex-POW service officers, stand ready to help them present their well-grounded claims to the Veterans Administration.

To get help, they should contact Clyde Moran, National Headquarters, American Ex-Prisoners of War, 3201 E. Pioneer Parkway, Suite 40, Arlington, Texas 76010-5396. Telephone: (817) 649-2979; or e-mail to pow(at)flash.net. -- FRED L. CAMPBELL, SERVICE OFFICER, SAN ANGELO, TEXAS

DEAR FRED: Your message is an important one, and many veterans and their families will thank you for it.

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mom of a 6-year-old boy. My son spends every Wednesday night and every other weekend with his dad.

Lately I've been going dancing and have met some single dads and dads in the midst of divorce. One of the complaints I often hear from them is that when they have regular, scheduled visits with their kids, they end up having to "run them all over town" -- to soccer, swimming, etc. It seems lost on them that that's what most moms do!

An example: My son's class lottery system chose Wednesday evening for his swimming class. However, my son's father didn't want to take him there, even though it fell on the night of his weekly visit. Imagine my little boy's disappointment. There is nothing more special to him than having his favorite person in the whole world -- his dad -- watch him swim.

This is not an issue of men vs. women, or ex vs. ex. It's about custodial vs. noncustodial parents. Of course, I understand when special plans interfere, but I don't understand why noncustodial parents feel that children should forgo their regular events during the time shared with them.

I do the best I can to make our home complete, but I cannot fill the shoes of my son's father. Abby, please encourage noncustodial parents to take an active part in those special times, even if it is inconvenient. Don't insist upon making your children sacrifice what they enjoy most. -- TACOMA MOM

DEAR TACOMA MOM: Well said. Your ex-husband's attitude is not only selfish, but he's also missing out on an important opportunity to make his son feel special and successful. He'll never get this chance again.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600