Disabled American Vets Living Overseas Are Getting Screwed Out of Healthcare

The Long March

Do you know that there are approximately 28,000 disabled Veterans who live outside of the U.S. who are excluded from receiving health care from the VA? Many of these Veterans are classified by the VA as 50% or more disabled. If they resided in the U.S., they could be entitled to non-service connected disability health care from the VA at no cost (depending upon their financial status); but because they live overseas they are flatly denied.  The question is “Why?”


A group of laws known as “Title 38” originally authorized the VA to provide health care to only Veterans with service connected disabilities (regardless of where they lived). This general restriction was modified in 1996 to provide non-service disability health care for Veterans living in the U.S. but not for Veterans living outside of the U.S. Section 1724 of Title 38 specifically prohibits the VA from providing non-service disability health care to expat veterans.

Some argue that Veterans who have decided to live abroad have deserted their country and don’t deserve non-service disability health care from the VA. That is a tough opinion to change, but let me say this. In the 21st century with modern communications it doesn’t matter where in the world a person lives. An American is an American is an American no matter in what country he/she resides. Most expat Veterans continue to pay U.S. taxes, many vote regularly via absentee ballot and with the help of the Internet, stay better informed than many stateside Veterans.

Others argue that fraud would run rampant if the VA paid for non-service disability health care outside of the U.S. However, the facts simply do not support that contention. Military retirees living abroad use TriCare for their medical coverage – a form of health care insurance earned by their years of service; no rampant fraud experienced there. 

Also, the FMP (Foreign Medical Program run by the VA) already pays for foreign health care directly related to service-connected disabilities that is incurred abroad; no rampant fraud experienced there.

So why aren’t disabled expat Veterans treated in the same manner as disabled stateside Veterans? Section 1724 of Title 38 is a horse and buggy era law and many, both inside and outside of the VA, agree that it should be repealed; but getting Congress to act is another story. “Budget constraints” is what most in Congress use as their defense for not acting but we all know that extending well-earned benefits to 25,000 disabled expat Veterans isn’t even going to cause a small blip on the Congressional budget radar screen.

One of the largest groups of Americans who decide to live abroad are Veterans. Many have spent a considerable part of their military service abroad; some speak two or more languages and have grown accustomed to life overseas, particularly in the developing world. Living back home in America may even seem boring and slow once they leave the service. And of course, the cost of living overseas, including health care, is substantially less than the U.S.

Making the location of where you place your boots at night a condition of VA health care benefit eligibility is shameful at best; cruel and deceitful at worst. When we raised our hands and swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, there was no legal small print in our oath.

I now ask Congress to erase the legal small print in their oath to us; repeal Section 1724 of Title 38 and treat disabled expat Veterans fairly no matter where they place their boots at night.

Ken Adams is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Thailand. He served  3 years in the U.S. Army as a Terrain Analyst assigned to CICV in Saigon in 1969 and to the 64th Engineering Detachment at IFFV HQ in Nha Trang in 1970. The VA has classified him as 70% disabled, primarily due to Ischemic Heart Disease more likely than not caused by exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less