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Here is an interesting exchange on the ExpatHealth Yahoo Group, between Craig Morrissey, Executive VP of Hospial Nacional and a veteran asking about VA Benefits in Panama:

Sorry, I just joined the group and I’m sure this has been discussed, but I’m
a Vet with VA benefits (not Tricare). We were told by Mae Lewis Hospital in
David via email that I could transfer my VA benefits to that hospital.
Unfortunately, before sitting down with them, we rented a house in David.
Now after meeting with them last week I’m not sure what we have!
They referred me to someone in Panama City, close to Hospital Nacional that
has told me he can help.
Can anyone give me some insight as to the real situation in Panama?
Thank you,

Craig Morrissey replys…..more…..

Jeff, Technically, there are no VA benefits here in Panama. A number of hospitals
do accept the Foreign Medical Program (FMP) though. The main difference is
the following.

If you are a Vet with VA benefits in the USA, then you can go to a VA
hospital and receive treatment for any condition (this is my understanding
of how it works in the US).

But here in Panama there are no VA hospitals. But, if you have a service
connected condition that has been rated by the VA, then you can apply to the
FMP. FMP will need a copy of your rating decision, and will issue a letter
stating that you are part of the FMP and also what conditions are covered.
With that letter you can receive treatment for only those conditions that
are service connected and stated on the letter. So if you have a right knee
problem that is service connected, anything associated with that condition
can be covered, but if you come down with a bacterial infection, that is not

Mae Lewis may have referred you to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
office, where there is a service officer who knows about these programs and
your benefits in greater detail. You should try giving them a call. Feel
free to e-mail me with any other questions and I will do my best to answer



Panama Kevin