Larry Dandridge

Military service-connected disabled veterans should enroll in the Foreign Medical Program (FMP)


Now that the Coronavirus pandemic is calming down and more and more people worldwide are getting COVID prevention vaccinations, veterans are beginning to consider traveling overseas again and even living abroad. Veterans who have military service-connected disabled veteran award letters (from 0 to 100 percent) from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) should enroll in the VA’s free Foreign Medical Program (FMP).

Many travel agencies wisely recommend that persons (veterans and non-veterans) traveling outside of the United States purchase medical insurance for their trip. Traveler’s medical insurance is not cheap but anyone who has ever been ill or injured overseas can tell you that not only is the illness or injury stressful but so is paying the provider (doctors and hospital).

The purpose of this article is to inform veterans, especially military service-connected disabled veterans that there is a terrific VA benefit for service-connected disabled veterans called the VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP). The FMP is only for service-connected disabled veterans and is free, but veterans should enroll in the program.

Veteran Health Administration (VHA) FMP Program Overview

According to the VHA’s FMP Information Brochure and the VA’s Community Care website, FMP is for eligible Veterans living or traveling abroad. The VA offers medical services through the Foreign Medical Program (FMP).

Through this program, FMP will pay for health care services, medications, and durable medical equipment for service-connected conditions and conditions associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected condition. The VA may also authorize foreign medical services for any condition if you are participating in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Title 38, U.S. Code, Chapter 31).

Read the VHA FMP published information

Service-connected disabled veterans and their family members should read the information on FMP at the following two VA websites: https://bit.ly/3uSnnQI and https://bit.ly/3uZ07QQ.


The FMP program is administered by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Community Care in Denver. The eligibility requirements for medical services for veterans outside the U.S. are different from those for veterans within the U.S. VA disability percentages have no bearing when determining eligibility for foreign medical services.

Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services the Veteran/Servicemember’s character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions (e.g., honorable, under honorable conditions, general). However, individuals receiving undesirable, bad conduct, and other types of dishonorable discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by the VA.

Download, read, and print the VA’s FMP brochure

Service-connected disabled veterans should download and print a copy of the FMP Information Brochure and apply for this free and valuable veterans’ benefit. The Brochure URL is https://bit.ly/3KhkDCL.

FMP coverage

FMP does not cover non-service-connected disabilities and conditions not associated with and held to be aggravating a non-service-connected condition. FMP will pay for health care services, medications, and durable medical equipment for service-connected conditions and conditions associated with and held to be aggravating a service-connected condition. The VA may also authorize foreign medical services for any condition if you are participating in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Title 38, U.S. Code, Chapter 31).

Certain countries are excluded

The VA will not reimburse veterans who reside in countries where U.S. Department of Treasury checks are restricted or where travel is prohibited. Find a current list of U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisories at the DOS Bureau of Consular Affairs at their website https://bit.ly/3KdcWxu.

Watch the VA’s YouTube video

Service-connected disabled veterans may also want to watch the VA Foreign Medical Program YouTube video at https://bit.ly/35FS8Q6.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Veterans should also read the FAQs and answers at the VHA website https://bit.ly/3NMHRCR.

How to register for FMP

Military service-connected disabled veterans can register for the FMP by filling out and submitting a Foreign Medical Services Form, VA Form 10-7959f in accordance with the instructions at the VA’s Community Care website https://bit.ly/3KeApOJ.

PDF 10-7959f Registration Form

A pdf version of the 10-7959f-1 form can be found at https://bit.ly/3DVAswN and https://bit.ly/3NP0Uws. The form is quite simplified and is only one page requiring the veteran’s name, social security number, VA claim file number, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address.

It is recommended (but not required) that the Veteran include a copy of each of his or her VA Award Letters with the VA Form 10-7959f. Including the VA Disability-rating award letter copies with the veteran’s registration request should expedite the VA’s determination and award of FMP benefits. Do not send the VA or anyone your original or only copy of your VA Disability Rating Award letters. Repeat, DO NOT SEND THE VA OR ANYONE YOUR ONLY COPY OF YOUR VA DISABILITY-RATING AWARD LETTER.

Mail or fax your application

The completed VA Form 10-7959f with copies of award letters should be mailed to the VHA Office of Community Care, Foreign Medical Program, P.O. Box 469061, Denver, CO 80246-9061 or faxed to 1-303-331-7803. If veterans have questions about FMP call 1-303-331-7590 or email hac.fmp@va.gov.

The FMP website is found at https://bit.ly/3j8DeF3.

VA Authorization Letter

Once the VHA has received, processed, and approved a veteran’s FMP request, they will send an authorization letter to the veteran. The authorization letter will explain the medical disabilities that the VA will cover through FMP. The veteran will need a copy of this authorization letter with them when they travel to or reside in a foreign country. Without the letter, a foreign health care provider (doctor, nurse, hospital, etc.) will not be able to confirm that the veteran has VA FMP coverage.

Selecting a Foreign Health Provider

Although veterans may select providers of their choice, the VA recommends (but does not require) that selected providers have the ability to produce their medical documentation and billing statements in English. Documents submitted in a language other than English will require contracted translation services, which may delay claims.

Authorization of care

For veterans approved and registered by the VHA in the Foreign Medical Program (FMP), authorization in advance of obtaining FMP health care services for VA-rated, military service-connected disabilities are not necessary. Veterans registered and approved FMP participants, with a service-connected disability, who are simply traveling abroad do not need to notify FMP they are traveling.

Veterans who have established permanent residence in a foreign country are encouraged by the VA to notify FMP of their current address. Once the VA FMP Office is notified of the veteran’s foreign country address, arrangements will be made by the VA for FMP registration and the mailing of FMP materials.

Foreign Providers will most likely require payment before discharging the patient. Most likely veterans traveling or living abroad will have to pay the provider, then request reimbursement from FMP. Just like most private medical insurance (travel medical insurance), a foreign medical provider will probably require the veteran to pay for his or her medical bills before they are released from their care (hospital care, etc.).

How to file a claim

Use VA Form 10-7959f-2, titled Foreign Medical Program (FMP) Claim Cover Sheet to file for reimbursement for medical services outside of the United States. Veterans can download a .pdf version of this form at https://bit.ly/3uTS8Ve.

Under FMP veterans may elect to choose any health care provider who is licensed to provide the medical services the veteran requires. Veterans may pay the provider and then file a claim by submitting the bill, medical documentation, and proof of payment to the FMP office. Or the provider, if willing, may submit the bill and medical documentation to FMP for payment. The FMP address is VHA Office of Community Care, Foreign Medical Program, P.O. Box 469061, Denver, CO 80246-9061. Foreign providers should also send their claim directly to the VHA, whether or not they require the veteran to pay for the services.

FMP payments are made by U.S. Treasury checks, issued in U.S. currency. Payments are based on the exchange rate applicable for the date the medical service was rendered, or in the case of hospitalization, the discharge date.


Veterans living in Canada are under the jurisdiction of the FMP; however, inquiries and claims must be submitted to Foreign Countries Operations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 2323 Riverside Drive, Second Floor, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1AOP5. That office phone number is (toll-free) 1-888-996-2242 and FAX: 1-613-991-0305.

Pay attention to this final word

Most veterans stop requesting VA Disability determinations when they reach the VA award of 100 percent service-connected disability. This is a practical decision if the veteran is only interested in his primary benefits in the USA. However, if the veteran has other service-connected disabilities that they have not previously applied for and they want those disabilities covered under the Veterans Health Administration Foreign Medical Program (FMP), they should file a claim for those disabilities with the VA.

Veterans Service Officers can help

As always veterans can contact a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) for help registering and applying for the FMP program, and for help filing FMP claims. Below are the phone numbers and email addresses of other S.C. and Ga. county VSOs in The Island News.

Beaufort County – 100 Clear Water Way, Beaufort, S.C. 29906; 843-255-6880; fax no. 843-255-9445. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, by appointment only. The website is https://bit.ly/3uKeZUQ.

Colleton County – Janet D. Smith, 843-549-1412, cvao@colletoncounty.org.

Charleston County – David J. LeBlanc, Sr., 843-974-6360, vaoffice@charlestoncounty.org.

Hampton County – Sharon Johnson, 803-914-2085/2087, sjohnson@hamptoncountysc.org.

Dorchester County – Johnny K. Brown, 843-832-0050, JKBrown@dorchestercountysc.gov.

Jasper County – Alton Jenkins, 843-726-7727, ajenkins@jaspercountysc.gov.

Berkeley County – Jan Helton, 843-377-8506, jan.helton@berkeleycountysc.gov.

Chatham County, Ga. – Reggie Louis, 912-920-0214, Ext. 2194, reggie.lewis2@va.gov, 1170 Shawnee Street, Savannah, Ga. 31419.

Liberty County & Hinesville, Ga. – Charles Isaac, 912-408-2948, charles.isaac@vs.state.ga.us, 500 East Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville, Ga. 31313.

The Veterans Service Organizations like the DAV, VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, and dozens of others also have Veterans Service Officers to help veterans and their family members. For example, the Disabled Veterans of America (DAV) Chapter 12 in Beaufort has an excellent VSO, Michael Vergantino at (843) 301-2543 or mlv1030@gmail.com. He is ready to help any veteran or veteran’s family member.

There is also an American Legion VSO, Pauly Maloney located in the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (843-789-7506, Paula.Maloney@va.gov).

Lastly, there is a State of S.C. VSO, Elizabeth Singleton, in the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center at 843-789-7456.

You can read more than 40 articles on veterans’ benefits written by Larry Dandridge at www.yourislandnews.com.

Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War wounded warrior, disabled veteran, ex-Enlisted Infantryman, ex-Warrant Officer Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, a Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Hospital, the Fisher House Charleston Good Will Ambassador, and the VP for Veteran Affairs for the local Army Association Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning book Blades of Thunder and a contributing free-lance writer with the Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@earthlink.net or 843-276-7164.

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