VA Information For Veterans Living Overseas

Updated: November 7, 2022

Table of Contents

    Not all service members who retire or separate from the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps decide to start a new life in the civilian sector in the United States. Some decide to remain overseas, or return to a favorite overseas location instead of going back “home.”

    What help, if any, is available from the Department of Veterans Affairs for those who decide to stay overseas? If you qualify for VA benefits but do not have access to a stateside facility, do you have options?

    Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs anticipates this circumstance. Veterans who live overseas do so for a variety of reasons, and those who do “remain entitled to the benefits and services” earned with military service.

    You are still offered VA disability compensation where applicable, VA education benefits such as the GI Bill, health care, and others.

    Important Considerations When Remaining Overseas

    Those planning to remain or return to an overseas location after military service should take a holistic approach to their plans; this means thinking beyond your immediate needs post-military and consider long-term implications of remaining overseas. Especially where using your VA benefits is concerned.

    Thinking long-term includes, for example, planning what you may do if you decide to purchase a home overseas. Did you know you cannot use a VA home loan to purchase a house outside the continental United States or its territories or protectorates?

    That means you can use a VA mortgage loan to buy a home in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and anywhere else supported by the VA. You cannot use a VA mortgage to purchase a home in Spain, Italy, Germany, etc. as VA loan benefits are not available outside U.S. jurisdiction.

    It would be easy to assume other VA benefits operate in a similar fashion, but this is not necessarily true. But you will need to know which VA benefits you can take advantage of in your chosen overseas location, and which ones may be harder to access.

    How To Prepare To Use Your VA Benefits Overseas

    This is an area requiring more planning and forward thinking than some anticipate; in some cases your access to VA benefits may be a matter of your physical location and any challenges there.

    If you choose to live in Germany — where there is a network of U.S. military bases, military hospitals and related support operations — you may have an easier time accessing some benefits than you could if you decided to relocate to Reykjavik, Iceland where U.S. military members were once stationed at nearby Naval Air Station Keflavik.

    That facility was closed in 2006, received some attention in 2018 as certain submarine operations resumed there, but seems destined to remain closed for the most part at the time of this writing. There is no U.S. military support system in place in Iceland that could compare to what those remaining in Japan, Korea, Spain, Italy or Germany might enjoy.

    VA Resources For Veterans Living Overseas

    The first thing a veteran or soon-to-be retired or separated military member should do is to visit the VA official site to set up an e-Benefits account, which you will use to manage your VA benefits in the United States or from overseas location.

    You will need to register at the DS Logon Registration page but rather than supplying your last military address, use your last recorded USA address Instead.

    If you need to explore your VA options and have dependents without an assigned Social Security Number, you will need to take the following steps (as per the VA official site) in order to get started:

    • Call or write the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) (1-800-538-9552)
    • Have your dependent’s Foreign ID number available
    • Get a Social Security Number (provided by DMDC
    • Use that number for dependent registration via the VA eBenefits portal

    Veterans In The Philippines

    For veterans living in or considering relocating to the Philippines, the Department of Veterans Affairs has special resources. The VA Philippines overseas page includes some important details about getting VA benefits, especially health care.

    In the Philippines, veterans may be eligible for care for ”non-service connected disabilities” at the VA Manila Outpatient Clinic. The VA says this option is only for veterans “who are already receiving care at the outpatient clinic and whether the clinic is able to provide the needed service.”

    In such cases, the veteran may be required to pay for treatment “for non-service connected disabilities by non-VA care providers or by an outside medical facility.” For contact information, instructions on signing up, or basic details about any of the following VA services and/or programs, visit the VA official site at VA.gov and use the search tool to find forms and information on any of the following:

    Foreign Medical Care

    The VA offers medical services to veterans traveling or residing overseas (depending on location and other factors) via the VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP). VA FMP covers health care services, medications, and “durable medical equipment associated with a service-connected condition and/or aggravated condition” for eligible veterans.

    The VA official site indicates VA “may authorize foreign medical services for any condition if you are participating in the VA Veteran Rehabilitation Program.”

    Direct Deposit Of VA Benefit Payments

    Arranging direct deposit into a non-US bank may require some additional preparation, and in some cases may require the use of a translator. If you have an overseas bank account rather than an account with a company headquartered in the United States, be sure to ask what is typical when arranging such direct deposit payments.

    You may be required to obtain international routing numbers, SWIFT codes, International Bank Account Numbers, etc.

    Once benefit payments are sent from the United States, the funds will become available based on the foreign bank’s processing times, processing policies, etc. Currency conversion issues for such money transfers may or may not apply depending on the country, the bank, and other variables.

    VA Education Benefits At Foreign Schools

    VA education benefits are offered to those interested in attending VA-approved foreign schools. The requirements are quite similar; the school must be approved, meet VA guidelines, students “must meet the same basic eligibility requirements as for training in the United States,” according to the VA.

    VA education benefits may be available to qualifying veterans from the following programs as listed at VA.gov:

    Visit the VA Foreign School Information for Students page for additional information or to sign up.

    VA Specially Adaptive Housing Grants

    While it is true that VA home loans cannot be used to buy overseas property, veterans who qualify for VA Specially Adapted Housing Grants may be able to use them overseas to rehab a home to be more accessible for veterans with certain service-connected medical issues.

    VA rules for these grants require the applicant to have “a substantial ownership interest in the home to be adapted or built” and all adaptations or alterations to the home paid for by these grants must be VA-approved. Find out more about the VA Specially Adapted Housing Grants (SAH).

    VA Resources For Veterans Living Overseas Or Planning To Do So

    If you plan to or already have retired or separated from the military in an overseas location, there are VA resources waiting for you via phone, e-mail, and online:

    Other VA Resources For Veterans Living Overseas

    VA Overseas Military Coordinators (OMSCs) can help service members, U.S. Veterans living or working overseas, and their families and dependents with VA Benefits transition to a life overseas. The following contact information is broken down by geographic region as presented on the VA official site:

    Japan/Asia-Pacific

    Germany

    Italy

    United Kingdom

    More information about VA benefits for Veterans living abroad

    Medical Treatment Questions Only

    VA Foreign Medical Program Office

    PO Box 469061

    Denver, CO 80246-9061

    Email: [email protected]

    Education Benefit Questions Only

    VA Regional Office

    PO Box 4616

    Buffalo, New York 14240-4616

    Website: Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Life Insurance Questions Only

    VA Regional Office and Insurance Center

    P O Box 7208

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101

    Contact the VA

    VA Home Loan Questions Only

    VA Loan Eligibility Center

    PO Box 20729

    Winston-Salem, NC 27120

    For overnight delivery:

    VA Loan Eligibility Center

    251 N. Main St.

    Winston-Salem, NC 27155

    Toll free number: 1-888-244-6711

    Email: [email protected]

    For Vocational Rehabilitation And Employment Questions Only

    VA Regional Office, Pittsburgh Regional Office

    Benefits Claims (Except for the Philippines)

    Benefits Only

    VA Regional Office

    Foreign Claims

    1000 Liberty Avenue

    Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4004

    Pittsburgh Regional Office

    Benefits Claims (Philippines)

    Benefits and Medical Care

    VA Regional Office:

    1501 Roxas Blvd.

    Manila, Philippines

    Manila Regional Office

    Written by MilitaryBenefits

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