Understanding the VA Hybrid Loan

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The VA Hybrid Loan is a great option for many military homeowners to assist veterans in saving hundreds of dollars per month. However, there are many misconceptions and negative perceptions surrounding the VA Hybrid Loan.

Many military homeowners assume any loan outside of a 30-year fixed loan is toxic and a bad option. This is not true and many homeowners are steering away from loans that may be better options for their specific circumstances.

The VA Hybrid e-book was created to give homeowners all the details about the VA Hybrid loan and try and explain the benefits to veteran homeowners. We hope you enjoy the e-book and have a greater understanding of the VA Hybrid Loan.

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Top 5 Largest Wars of the 20th Century

The 20th century (1901-2000) saw numerous wars, murders on a massive scale, and military conflicts, resulting in millions of lives lost on the national and global stage. These wars include those most of us have heard of, such as World War I or World War II. But there are also other conflicts and mass-scale deaths—that were almost as large and catastrophic—that many of us don’t know about.

We believe it’s always a good idea to look back and examine history. The moment we start forgetting the past is the moment we repeat the same mistakes. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 largest, deadliest wars or conflicts of the 20th century, defined here by the number of casualties. The list of casualties is estimated, but it still helps reveal the scale of the various wars.

20th Century Wars, Conflicts, and Rules with the Highest Casualties

1.  World War II:  (65 million)   1939 – 1945

The name of the war says it all.  It truly was a “World War.” It’s estimated that 65 to 80 million men, women, and children lost their lives during World War II. Scale-wise, the second world war affected at least a hundred countries and racked up body counts in 27 of these, making it the bloodiest war of all time. Hitler’s Germany surrendered on April 29, 1945 bringing the chaos to a close.

2.  World War I:  (25 million)   1914 – 1918

25 million of the 70 million military personnel who participated in World War I died; that’s just a little less than half. And the suffering didn’t end there; the financial, social, and political aftermath of the war left Germany in ruins, eventually giving way to the movement that would bring Hitler to power and launch World War II.

3.  The Great Purge:  (13 million)   1937 – 1938

Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, headed a mass execution of those opposing the Communist party. Some 13 million Russians were murdered under Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, during the Great Purge, a horrific mass execution of all those who opposed the Communist Party. Those who weren’t killed were imprisoned, and Communism stayed in Russia for the next 50 to 60 years until its collapse in 1991.

4. Cultural Revolution:  (11 million)   1966 – 1976

Much like the Great Purge, Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China turned into a party-led bloodbath that claimed approximately 11 million lives. Zedong, chairman of the Communist Party of China, felt he was ensuring Communism’s continued existence by indoctrinating Chinese youth (called Red Guards) and killing anyone, even those within his own party, who he thought might be gaining greater power than himself. His actions made way for one of the largest civil wars in Chinese history.

5.  Belgian-Congo Free State Rule:  (10 million)   1876 – 1908 

On the cusp of the 20th century, King Leopold II of Belgium took personal control over the Congo. His rule led to human exploitation for the rubber trade and gathering of other resources, murder, mutilation, wars and rebellions when Congolese refused to acknowledge Belgian rule or gather rubber, disease, and suffering on a massive scale. About 10 million people, or half the Congolese population at the time, died during the Free State rule. Belgian cruelty was eventually checked by media attention and movements in the US and UK.

History as Our Teacher

Why do we study history at all? The answer is quite clear: it is to learn from the misdeeds of our ancestors and others and especially from the misuse of power. Genocide and war usually begin when one person comes into too much power, and in almost every scenario, those with power spend the rest of their lives fearing it will be taken away from them. It’s hard to imagine losing one’s humanity to the point of mass murder, but as the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We at Low VA Rates are thankful to live in a country in which power is distributed and, for the most part, kept under control. The United States’ system of government may not be perfect, and yes, corruption can and does occur at every level, but we believe the Constitution and design of our government help protect against autocracy and limit the power of America’s leaders. Additionally, as we reflect on the millions of American lives lost in these military conflicts, we express our undying gratitude and appreciation for our veterans, and for those troops currently serving.

Thousands of U.S. troops deploy every year and sacrifice their lives to preserve our freedoms.  Hopefully, future generations will continue to be willing to sacrifice their lives to prevent these atrocities from plaguing our history.

Top 5 American WWII Weapons

It’s no secret that technology and weaponry have made huge advances in the past 30 years.  Let’s take a look back at some of the best American WWII Weapons that led to many of the modern weapons that the US uses today.

WWII Weapons American Soldiers Used

The weapons used by the American troops that served in WWII were instrumental in bringing peace and freedom to the US and hundreds of other countries in the world. Below is a list we’ve put together of the top five WWII Weapons used during the war by American soldiers:


  1. M1A1 Bazooka/Rocket Launcher

The list has to begin with one of the original bazookas most commonly used by US troops during WWII. The M1A1 bazooka accounted for destroying multiple German tanks.

When the M1A1 was first introduced, it had far more reliable ammunition firing than the previous M1 and was particularly effective against pillboxes and concrete bunkers. However, due to extremely high casualty rates, the bazooka fire team was not a coveted spot during the war. The team often had to expose their bodies in order to obtain a clear field of fire against any armored targets.

 2.  M3 Submachine Gun

This machine gun is more commonly referred to as the “Grease Gun” or even “the Greaser” because it looks very similar to a greaser tool that a mechanic would use. This gun has been used in countless WWII movies and documentaries, including Band of Brothers, The Dirty Dozen, and Inglorious Bastards.

The gun was a replacement for the M1 Thompson sub machine guns and provided a lighter and more accurate weapon. This was one of the more popular ww2 American machine guns.

 3.  M1 Carbine Rifle

This rifle was one of the most commonly used American weapons during WWII and was a part of the standard issue to the American troops. Because of how lightweight and easy it was to use, the M1 carbine was used by the US in the Korean and Vietnam wars as well.

Many troops who were unable to use a full-size rifle as their primary weapon effectively used the M1 Carbine. The M1 carbine was the first carbine rifle to be developed under the naming system the US started in 1925. That naming system is still used today.

 4.  Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)

The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was also a part of the standard issue and was the sole automatic fire support for an eight-man squad. The BAR was difficult to master since it had a strong recoil spring and an open bolt, but all men in the squad were trained on how to operate and fire the weapon at a very basic level in the event that the designated operators were unable to fire.

The BAR was most commonly fired from a bipod but also had the capability to be packed on the shoulder of a troop and fired on the move.

5.  M2-2 Flame Thrower

The portable M2-2 Flamethrower was commonly used during WWII, but was quickly phased out with the technological advances of tanks and their firepower. The M2-2 Flamethrower had a reach of approximately 20 meters and a burn time of approximately 7 seconds. The WWII flamethrower models featured hourglass frames and hexagonal gas caps.

The weapons developed during the WWII period helped protect the lives of those who used them and lives of those they were fighting for.

Since WWII, US military weapons have seen incredible advancements, but many of the weapons used today can trace their beginnings back to these top-of-the line historic weapons. Because of an intense focus on creating the most cutting-edge tech, WWII caused a bigger jump into future weaponry than any war before it.

At Low VA Rates, we have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women of the US military and the advancements they’ve made in protecting the freedoms we enjoy every day. In fact, we make it our business to give them the VA home benefits they deserve.

To learn more about military weapons and Low VA Rates, visit other articles on our blog. And if there are any other American WW2 Weapons that you think should be added to this list, please comment below!


10 Easy and Simple Tricks for Making Your Move Stress Free

Helpful moving tips

If you’re part of a military family, chances are that you move a lot. Moving your entire life around from place to place is never easy, but if you follow some of these helpful tips, you can make your move virtually stress free.


  • Consolidate and toss. Before the packing starts, consolidate duplicate items and get rid of unused or unwanted items. If an item is still in its box from your last move or you haven’t used it in the past year, then you probably don’t need it, and it’s time to get rid of it. Have a garage sale for those items and spend that cash celebrating a new start in your next home.
  • Good boxes. Start by consolidating any storage you might already have in plastic tubs or dresser drawers. Everything on top of the nightstand, like lotions, clocks, or pictures, can probably fit inside of the nightstand if you have drawers in it, and this will also save you a box. If you are purchasing boxes, make sure to get sturdy ones. A 32lb edge-crush test rating is good, and these boxes usually only cost about $1.
  • Pack the unessential s first. Always start packing accessories, photos, and decorative items first. Since these aren’t necessary to live with, you can start packing them up several weeks before you move. Then it’s easy to see what’s left to be packed or gotten rid of before the big day.
  • Pack your kitchen last and unpack it first. You’ll need to make and eat food up until the moment you leave, so the kitchen should be the last to go.  However, several kitchen items can be packed ahead of time if you don’t think you’ll need them in the weeks before you move (such as a mixer, waffle irons, crock pots, etc.). The kitchen should also be the first thing you unpack; Nobody wants to hunt through boxes the morning after you move in just to try to find a glass or bowl. Mark kitchen boxes by using different colored duct tape, then you can easily unpack the kitchen the day you move in. You would be surprised at how much it eases your stress.
  • Set up your bed second. After unpacking the kitchen, the second thing to do is set up your bed frame, mattress, and clean sheets. I recommend leaving essential linens (such as sheets, blankets, and pillow cases) unpacked in your car or suitcase for easy and quick access. This way, you can end your moving day with a better night’s sleep to help you the next day when the real unpacking begins.
  • DIY or movers? Whether you choose to move yourself or hire movers is entirely up to you. For those of you who like being in control and will be worried or bothered by someone else handling your possessions, don’t hire movers. Instead, think about enlisting helpful friends and family then kindly and politely delegate tasks the way you would like them done. If you’re more of the care-free and laid back type that really dreads the whole process, then hiring movers might be the best way to stay organized, on time, and stress free.
  • Keep a cooler stocked and nearby. It might seem silly, but you’ll be glad and so will anyone else helping you move when you bring a cooler stocked full of snacks and cold beverages. Moving heavy items and even just the amount of walking you do during a move burns many calories. People can get low blood sugar or dehydrated quickly, causing tempers to flare and stress levels to rise. Calm it all down by simply bringing the cooler. Take breaks every once in a while to eat a snack and rest your feet.
  • Choose packing tape wisely. You need sturdy tape that will prevent your boxes from coming open unexpectedly. My suggestion is to buy several different colors of duct tape and a tape gun. The tape gun will allow you to tape boxes quickly, and the different colors will allow you organize your boxes by room. Assign each room in your house a different color of tape. For example, the kitchen is orange, the living room is blue, the dining room is brown, etc. When you move into the new house, you can easily bring each colored box to its respective room. This will make unpacking much easier.
  • Save newspapers and magazines for packing paper. You can even recycle the paper after you’re done. Using old newspapers will save you money and keep your items secure. All you have to do is empty the trash can or paper shredder in your home office to find lots of usable packing paper. If you know about the move several weeks in advance, you can collect newspapers and grocery ads in a bag for later use.
  • Invest in mattress pads and furniture bags. They are worth the money and the time it takes to put them on. These can literally save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Simply wrap up your couches, mattresses, grandma’s china cabinet, and any other expensive or valuable pieces of furniture with the mattress pads and furniture bags. This should prevent them from breaking or getting holes or scratches.


Moving doesn’t have to be daunting or stressful. When the process is done right, you can actually feel excited about your move and ready for a new adventure. If you are in the military and still looking for a new house in the area you’ll be moving to, we would be happy to help you secure an affordable VA home loan. we strive to get you a great rate and provide you outstanding customer service. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel secure in your move and your new home? Give us a call at 866-569-8272 to get started

Receiving Compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs disability provides monthly benefits to veterans in recognition of the effects of disabilities, diseases, or injuries received or aggravated during active military service. The program also provides monthly payments to surviving spouses, dependent children, and dependent parents in recognition of the economic loss caused by a veteran’s death during military service or, after discharge from military service, as a result of a service-connected disability.  The following is a summary of the VA’s disability compensation programs.

Disability Compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. The benefit amount is graduated according to the degree of the veteran’s disability on a scale from 10 percent to 100 percent (in increments of 10 percent). Compensation may also be paid for disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit generally payable to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of Servicemembers who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, or to survivors of veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities. Parents DIC is an income-based benefit for parents who were financially dependent on a servicemember or veteran who died from a service-related cause.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is an additional tax-free benefit that can be paid to Veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. For Veterans, Special Monthly Compensation is a higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by another person or by specific disability, such as loss of use of one hand or leg. For spouses and surviving spouses, this benefit is commonly referred to as aid and attendance and is paid based on the need of aid and attendance by another person.

Veterans may be eligible for other types of disability compensation once a disability has been determined to be service connected. Special VA disability compensation programs include: individual unemployability, automobile allowance, clothing allowance, prestabilization, hospitalization, convalescence, dental, and birth defects.  Each program has their own special circumstances.  For example, the VA may provide compensation for injuries incurred or aggravated while receiving care from VA, such as medical treatment or vocational rehabilitation.

Automobile Allowance is a program where the VA may provide veterans with a one-time allowance to purchase a new or used car to accommodate a service-connected disability. This benefit is available to Veterans with certain severe service-connected disabilities, such as loss of, or permanent loss of use of, a hand or foot. This benefit can also be used to purchase adaptive equipment. There is also a Clothing Allowance.  The VA may provide an annual clothing allowance to veterans, who use a prosthetic or orthopedic device (including a wheelchair) because of a service-connected disability, or has a service-connected skin condition and uses a medication that causes irreparable damage to outer garments.

Some of the many medical programs are the Birth Defects and Spina Bifida program, where the VA may provide a tax-free monetary allowance to children with Spina Bifida or certain birth defects born to women who served in the Republic of Vietnam or served in or near the demilitarization zone in Korea during certain time periods.  Dental benefits are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) according to law. In some instances, VA is authorized to provide extensive dental care, while in other cases treatment may be limited.

VA may grant a temporary 100 percent disability compensation rating to recover from surgery or immobilization of a joint by a cast without surgery for a service-connected disability.  VA may also grant a temporary 100% disability compensation rating to a Veteran who is hospitalized for more than 21 days for a service-connected disability.

There are so many programs and compensations, each made specifically to meet the needs of the veterans who served our country.  Spread the word to others about the programs, so that veterans can receive compensation.


IRRRL Considerations

Things to Consider Before Applying for an IRRRL


There’s no such thing as the one perfect loan or refinance option that is the best option for every situation. As such, even though the IRRRL is very well-designed, and made to provide as much benefit as possible to VA borrowers, there are some needs that the IRRRL was designed to fill, and some that it was not. In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you’ll want to know before committing yourself to an IRRRL.


IRRRLs have limitations on when and for what purpose they can be used. For example, other than the $6,000 for energy-efficiency improvements, the borrower is not allowed to receive funds from the loan for anything other than the VA loan being refinanced. In other words, if you are wanting to refinance to pay off credit card debt, consolidate a second mortgage, or for any other reason, you will not be able to use an IRRRL to do so. This can sometimes be a major let-down to borrowers getting excited about the IRRRL, but this limitation makes a great deal of sense. As soon as you start talking about getting more money than is owed on the existing loan, things get more complicated, and any lender with half a brain is going to want the house to be re-appraised, a new credit report pulled, and all of the underwriting done that an IRRRL avoids.



Consider an IRRRL


If you’re wanting to go from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year, you’ll also have some bad news. IRRRLs have a limit on the maximum loan term they can have. While the limit is fairly reasonable, you can’t go from a 15-year to a 30-year. The limit on an IRRRL is whatever the term of the original loan was plus 10 years, not to exceed 30 years and 32 days. In other words, a 15-year VA loan cannot be refinanced to anything longer than a 25-year with an IRRRL. Also, if there is a change to be made to the obligors on the loan (due to marriage, divorce, or other event), in many (but not all) cases an IRRRL is not permitted. Be sure to consult with a VA-approved lender if you are looking to add someone to the loan or take someone off and would like to use an IRRRL to do so, if possible. The reason for this limitation also comes down to the lack of new underwriting that takes place in an IRRRL. If the obligors on the loan have changed then so has the overall income and creditworthiness of the obligors as a whole. If there’s been a change then the VA and the lender need to make sure that the borrowers are still qualified for the loan.


It may seem odd that the requirement for a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment is waived if the loan being refinanced is an ARM, but there’s a very good reason for this, and if you currently have an ARM, you probably already know it. ARM loans typically have lower interest rates than fixed-rate loans, and fluctuate along with the market. Therefore, since an ARM loan could easily have a lower interest rate than what you’re using an IRRRL to refinance to, and this is no indication of an unwise decision on the part of the borrower or deceptive actions on the part of the lender, this is an acceptable situation. Using an IRRRL to refinance an ARM is the only exception to the lower interest rate rule, but there are two more cases where the principal+interest monthly payment may be allowed to be higher. These two cases are when the new term of the IRRRL is shorter than the loan being refinanced, and if energy efficiency improvements are included in the loan.


Some of the benefits of an IRRRL come with hidden barbs. For example, the ability to roll closing costs into the loan amount may seem like a fantastic option, but you’re charged interest on that amount along with the rest of the principal. So if you roll $4,000 of closing costs into the loan, you’ll probably pay between $6,000-$8,000 on them throughout the life of the loan depending on your interest rate. In other words, if you have the money on hand, it’s best to just front the cash for closing costs for the same reason it’s smarter to pay as large a down payment as you can afford.


Military Family Receives Sub for Santa

Christmas will be a little better this year for a Wyoming military family that has endured its fair share of struggles.

The Atchley family was recently selected as the Low VA Rates Sub for Santa recipient and has received many Christmas gifts and an additional $1,500 check from Low VA Rates.


The Atchley family has recently passed through some tough times and needed the extra help during the holiday season to provide a nice Christmas for their family.

The father, Wade, was recently discharged from the Air Force and has struggled to find employment since. The mother, Amanda, is taking care of the four children and has also not been able to find employment.

After receiving all the applications, Low VA Rates decided the Atchley family was the perfect Sub for Santa Candidate.

“You really have no idea how much of a burden Low VA Rates has taken off my and husband and I,” Amanda Atchley said. “We are so grateful for Low VA Rates making this Christmas a miracle for us.”

Low VA Rates has assisted families across the nation with various charitable events and donations, and has provided a Christmas donation to a family in need for the past four years.

President of Low VA Rates, Eric Kandell, loves the holiday season to give back to military families in need.

“We have always made it a point to give back during the holiday season to military families in need,” Kandell said. “This year the Atchley family really stood out as being a wonderful military family that needed some assistance and we were very pleased that we could help out.”

Wade has strong ties to the military and has been serving our country for the past 5 years until his recent discharge. Wade joined the military in 2009 and later became a services apprentice after technical school. The family has been stationed across the nation and Wade also served a tour in Iraq with the 332 Expeditionary FSS during Operation New Dawn.

“The Atchley family is everything good we see in military families and we are honored to be able to help them out this Christmas,” Kandell said.

The four children of Wade and Amanda received many gifts from Low VA Rates including: clothes, action figures, speakers, bedding and even a Huffy green machine. The additional $1,500 donated will be used to help make Christmas a wonderful time for the Atchley family this year.

“It has been a hard year for us, but we are still keeping our holiday spirit alive!,” Amanda said. “We are so grateful to Low VA Rates and it will be nice to give my children the Christmas they deserve.”

Low VA Rates has donated over $12,000 in charitable donations in 2014 and plans to continue to give back to the community and military families.

“Since Low VA Rates has opened its doors for business we have always made it a point to give back to military families.” Kandell said. “We love all that have served in the military and give our heartfelt gratitude for sacrificing their lives to preserve our freedoms.”


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Low VA Rates Donates Thanksgiving Dinner to Veterans in Need

Low VA Rates and its employees are gathering donations to help veterans in need receive a nice Thanksgiving Dinner.

Nov. 14, 2014, Lindon, UT- Low VA Rates and its employees are combining their efforts this Thanksgiving to help give back to veteran families in need.

The company will help assist the St. Elizabeth Shelter in providing a Thanksgiving dinner to families in need in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area.


The St. Elizabeth Shelter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, runs the Thanksgiving dinner annually to provide a nice Thanksgiving meal for local families in need.

Low VA Rates has provided charitable Thanksgiving donations for the past 4 years and is excited about the opportunity to assist some of the veterans at St. Elizabeth Shelter.

President of Low VA Rates, Eric Kandell, has made it a company tradition to help various families across the natio
n during the holiday season and will continue the tradition this Thanksgiving.

“We have always made it a point to help veteran families during the holiday season,” Kandell said. “Many families are in need of our support during the holiday season and we hope the money we raise can help the families have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.”

Low VA Rates is committed to match every dollar donated by its employees and hopes to raise thousands of dollars to help veterans and other individuals in need at the St. Elizabeth Shelter.

St. Elizabeth Shelter is dedicated to assisting homeless individuals and families by providing emergency shelter, food, case management, counseling, supportive housing and referrals to partnering human-service agencies. St. Elizabeth Shelter’s ultimate goal is to end the cycle of homelessness.

Michael Bartlett, Consulting Financial Officer at St. Elizabeth’s Shelter, has been working with Low VA Rates and helping organize the Thanksgiving dinner effort.

“We really appreciate Low VA Rates support this year and are grateful to assist many homeless families in New Mexico,” Bartlett said. “St. Elizabeth Shelter provides a huge Thanksgiving meal at both of our emergency shelters and it’s wonderful to be able to assist these families in need as well as those in our transitional and permanent housing programs”

The St. Elizabeth Shelter spends about $12,000 per year on food to assist those in need. The shelter also has raises money for other funds they use to purchase clothing, assist with basic needs and help employ veterans. The shelter spent over $7,000 last year helping individuals and families with basic needs.

To learn more about the St. Elizabeth Shelter please visit: www.steshelter.org.

Low VA Rates and its employees have donated over $30,000 in charitable donations the past five years to various military/veterans families and organizations.

“We take great pride in helping out the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces,” Kandell said. “We understand the sacrifices these brave men and women make and it’s the least we can do to show our appreciation.”

Low VA Rates is currently gathering all the donations from its employees and hopes to have the money finalized by next week.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining Low VA Rates to donate money, please email Low VA Rates at pr@lowvarates.com.

Why Some VA Loan Purchases Aren’t Available In Your Area

It is often a source of frustration for a potential VA loan borrower to find out that the VA approves loans of a certain type (it’s ok, for example, for a VA borrower to use their entitlement to purchase a mobile home or a plot of land, and it’s ok for a borrower to get a construction loan with their VA benefits), only to be told by every VA-approved lender they talk to that “they don’t do that.” The borrower is often confused at how the VA can allow something but lenders facilitating the VA loan will not. A common example of this is the borrower who wants to purchase a mobile home. The VA allows loans to be made to purchase a mobile home, but many lenders do not offer loans for those. The same is true of construction loans and modular homes.


So what’s going on? Why are these lenders refusing to offer these types of VA loans? The first reason is market conditions. Currently, it may be difficult to find lenders who offer VA loans for mobile and modular homes; in other words, the amount of lenders that are willing to offer those types of loans is quite small. These things change over time, however. It wasn’t always true that a mobile home VA loan was difficult to get. This is because market conditions change over time. Currently, there are higher risks associated with mobile home loans, and the risk is high enough and the complications aplenty enough that most lenders do not find it worth it to finance the purchase of mobile homes and modular homes. This is also often the case with construction loans, perhaps even more so.

Potential borrowers point to multiple sources (sometimes the lender’s own website) to support their stance that those types of loans are allowed. Many sources quote the VA stance on it which allows for borrowers to choose to use their money to purchase a mobile home, modular home, and/or a plot of land. The VA will even allow a borrower to build a new home with their VA loan benefits. Technically, this is all true. Technically, the VA allows all of those types of loans, and that is firmly established in the VA Lender’s Handbook, which the go-to resource for all policy related to VA loans. But while a borrower is technically able to apply for a VA loan for those purposes and have it approved by the VA as long as the borrower is credit-worthy, the lender is technically allowed to refuse to approve the loan.

Lenders that join the VA lending program do so voluntarily, and are considered “participating lenders”. Any lender that becomes a VA lender still has the freedom to choose which types of VA loans they will approve and which ones they will not. The VA is not able to force lenders to accept any and all types of VA loans in order to be a VA-approved lender. If they tried to do that, they would have so few VA-approved lenders that they would be unable to meet the demand of veterans looking to take advantage of their benefits and likely the entire VA loan program would eventually disappear. While this may be frustrating to some borrowers, if you look at how much money the lenders put on the line for every single loan, it makes complete and total sense why they should be the ones with the final word on where they put their money and who they risk hundreds of thousands of dollars on.

So while there are several options that the VA does permit but that a borrower will have a very difficult time finding, there are many more options that are currently widely offered by most VA-approved lenders, and the ones that are not will probably not be that way forever. As the housing market fluctuates, so do the types of VA loans that will be hard to find. Right now, the market isn’t great in regards to loans for mobile homes and construction, so in turn it’s difficult to find a VA lender for those types of loans. There are currently many options for those looking to use their VA loan benefits. VA-eligible borrowers can get VA loans on condos, townhomes, regular houses from all price ranges, multi-unit properties (like a twin home or four-unit apartment building) and other types of homes. If a VA borrower is not able to get exactly the VA loan he or she wants, there are still plenty of options and the borrower can always get a loan on what they want the conventional way if that is preferred.

Future of Drones in the US

Some people are calling drones lawless and destructive, but others say a future with domestic drones is inevitable. So what do you need to know about drones?

This video examines some interesting stats about drones in the US. The video also addresses how drones are currently used and the future implications of drones. Hope you enjoy!

The Path to Graduation Most Veterans Take

A student and veteran attending the University of Minnesota named Zac Bair provides a perfect example of how the GI Bill helps millions of veterans improve their life. Bair’s primary motivation for enlisting in the Army was to pay for higher education. Bair was deployed to Afghanistan three times and was then honorably discharged. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has been a major help to Bair, covering his tuition completely, providing a stipend to cover books and supplies, and an allowance to cover living costs like rent or mortgage. Bair says that if it weren’t for the GI Bill, he would probably be working entry-level jobs and struggling to make ends meet. “It’s been a huge load off my shoulders,” he said.


While case studies like Bair can be revealing as to how effective the GI Bill program is, they can only provide so much information, and cannot answer the major question that lawmakers and taxpayers alike want to know the answer to: how much, if any, of the dollars spent on the GI Bill program are wasted? This question continues to become more and more pertinent, as the number of students helped by the Post-9/11 GI Bill exceeds 1 million and the bill for the program exceeds $30 billion since the new GI Bill went into effect. But the answer to this question is very difficult to find.
But at the same time, the retention rate at the University for these students has jumped. The combination of these two effects would indicate that veterans are sticking with school, but taking longer to graduate. This makes perfect sense, especially when juxtaposed with the much larger-scope numbers that were released by the Student Veterans of America. The SVA conducted what was called The Million Records Project, which successfully offered a far more comprehensive understanding of student veterans as a whole and the effectiveness of the dollars spent on the GI Bill.

According to the SVA research, the average veteran takes around six years to complete their bachelor’s degree, with just a smidgen over half of all veterans graduating with a degree. However, the average veteran’s path to a degree wouldn’t probably be called ‘linear’, according to Dr. Chris Cate, the vice president of research for the SVA. Veterans are significantly more likely than civilian university students to have jobs, families, or (obviously) military obligations that take time away from their studies and make it much more difficult or even impossible to do school full-time. In addition, a veterans experiences on the battlefield can make the culture and expectations of campus life more difficult to handle than a civilian would find them. These things can either interrupt or extend their education, which makes definitively tracking how many veterans are successful in their education difficult.

The call for numbers and statistics on GI Bill graduates arose around the time that the first Post-9/11 Gi Bill veterans began to graduate, and the SVA research provides a valuable benchmark in keeping track of our veterans and their performance in school. Unfortunately, the Million Records Project is the only one of its kind at this point, but it will provide a valuable and powerful foundation for further research, both on a national level and a state level. Most universities do not have any sort of way of tracking the graduation and retention rates specifically for veterans, and as universities put such systems in place, more data will surface that will not only let us know how the GI Bill program is working, but how to make it better, and how to help more veterans graduate.

It’s easier said than done to accurately track veteran students. For the most part, veterans have to self-identify and be receiving GI Bill benefits in order to be included in the current count. Since GI Bill benefits can also be used for a veteran’s dependent, simply because the GI Bill benefit is being used does not mean that a veteran is attending college. The primary goal with all the research on the effectiveness of the GI Bill is to find ways to help the dollars spent on our nation’s veterans be as effective as they can be.

What Sort of Jobs Do Veterans Excel At? The Top 10 Part 2

The troubles that veterans have translating their military experience over their career into civilian jobs and civilian terms is not a new one, but that makes it no less difficult to figure out for a veteran just after discharge. Most veterans have years of experience under their belts, and are very qualified for a large number of jobs, but can have a hard time making the transition to a civilian career. It’s not uncommon for a veteran to have up to 10 years experience in a certain field but have not degree in it. Many veterans shoulder more responsibility in their military career than any of their degree-bearing civilian counterparts, but have a difficult time applying their skills in the civilian job market.


CareerCast.com, a website that provides detailed career information and job listings has found that most veterans are far more qualified than they realize, and can get very well-paying jobs. Tony Lee, the publisher of CareerCast.com, says that as many as 100 veterans a month send emails to CareerCast looking for help with their job search. While most veterans have no idea how qualified they are for great jobs, most employers also don’t realize just how great of candidates many veterans are. According to Lee, “There’s a real perception among employers that veterans are very difficult to hire,” but the opposite is true; when matched with the correct jobs, veterans are often even more qualified than civilians.

CareerCast has put together a list of what it considers to be the 10 best jobs for veterans to look for. They made this list in an effort to help veterans that are seeking jobs find one that works for them and that they will successfully fill and be able to move up from. CareerCast used the resources and data already at its disposal to compile the list, drawing from their annual best and worst job listing (which ranks 200 jobs on 100 different criteria). CareerCast then evaluated the skills and experience that vets are statistically likely to bring to a job and try to match those skills with in-demand jobs. One thing you’ll notice as you read the list, is that four of the ten jobs have the word “manager” in them. That is because veterans often have leadership experience that dwarfs a fresh civilian college grad.

The first job listed is an Administrative Services Manager. An ASM is much like a Chief Operating Officer on a lower level. An ASM deals heads up the facilities management group, allocates office space, often oversees the mail department, schedules the use of materials, and does many other things related to the facilities. A veteran is often a good fit for this job because veterans bring significant team building experience and oversight qualities. CareerCast considers this job to be a natural fit for most veterans, and has an average annual median salary of $81,080, which makes it definitely sufficient to provide a decent life for a veteran and his or her family.

Job number 2 on the list is Construction Program Manager. CareerCast describes this job as follows: “An improvement in construction prospects around the nation coincides with increased demand for veteran hiring. The construction industry has been near the forefront of that push, recruiting construction program managers from such sources as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the implementation of the Final Rule for companies that accept government contracts will open further opportunities to veterans with disabilities in the construction industry.” A Construction Program Manager is responsible for overseeing workers at a construction site. He or she will read blueprints, order materials, supervise the overall construction and demolition, and is directly responsible for hiring, firing, and training workers as needed. The median annual salary for this job: $82,790, a very respectable living.

The third job on the list is an Emergency Medical Technician (more commonly known as an EMT). While an EMT only has an average annual salary of $31,020, it’s the type of job that most veterans thrive in, and does provide opportunities to advance. Even better, more than half of states offer a Military Skills Waiver Test for certification, so often a veteran does not even need to go through the hoops of certification. EMT jobs are fast-paced, high-pressure jobs, and a veteran’s discipline augments a veteran’s experience and training in regards to healthcare support. See Part 2 for the last seven jobs.



What Sort of Jobs Do Veterans Excel At? The Top 10

This list is continued from a previous article, where we covered the first three jobs on the list: Administrative Services Manager, Construction Program Manager, and Emergency Medical Technician. Here we’ll cover the last seven jobs in CareerCast.com’s list of best jobs for Veterans in 2014.


The fourth job is Heavy & Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver. While not the most glamorous of jobs, many truck drivers thrive on the freedom that driving affords them. Truck Drivers have an average Annual salary of $38,200, which isn’t going to buy you that Lamborghini you’ve always wanted, but will be enough for you to enjoy a comfortable life with your family. CareerCast.com has the following to say about this job: “Many U.S. trucking companies are facing skills gaps, which makes filling vital positions increasingly difficult. Legislation passed in late 2012 is aimed to help the industry meet the 21% growth in trucking industry jobs that the BLS estimated by 2020. The legislation also eases licensing restrictions for service people who have frequently moved, and thus might not otherwise be able to receive state certification.”

Fifth in line we have the Industrial engineering Technician. An Industrial Engineering Technician applies engineering theory and principles to solve problems in an industrial layout or manufacturing production. The Technician is usually supervised by a member of the engineering staff, and often studies and records time, motion, method, and speed in regards to the operations of the factory or plant. The Technician plays an important role in establishing standard production rates and improving efficiency. An Industrial Engineering Technician provides an annual average salary of $50,890 and can also be great experience to leverage an engineering degree after you’ve completed school.

Number six is an Industrial Production Manager. According to America’s Job Exchange, An Industrial Production manager is “Responsible for managing and directing production activities within an industrial facility or organization. Coordinates the production of goods, ensures machines are repaired and running smoothly, and manages workers on production line.” This job makes the list because it’s compatible with many of the skills that veterans take with them after discharge, as well as the renewed emphasis on the manufacturing industry as part of the economic recovery, which makes for a good deal of openings in this industry. The average IPM makes $89,910 annually.

The seventh job in the list is a Paralegal and legal Assistant. These make an average salary of $46,990 and are often a great fit for veterans because of a good deal of on-the-job training during military service and because the field is expected to grow by 17% by the year 2020. Paralegals are the direct assistants to an attorney, and their main job is to assist the lawyer however necessary. Paralegal’s carry out legal research, draft legal documents, prepare cases when assigned, and can assist in carrying out investigations in relation to a case. A paralegal may also interview witnesses and also perform administrative duties.

Job number eight is a Software Engineer. Software Engineers make a good deal of money with an average annual salary of $85,430, and often love their job quite a bit. With the growth of information technology, computer science, software development, and other technology-related jobs in the armed forces, more and more veterans are leaving the military with extensive experience and training that many software companies find extremely valuable.

Number nine is a Telecommunications Equipment Installer and Repairer. This job has a very long name, but it is very appropriate to many veterans leaving the military. It has a fair average salary of $54,530, and veterans with telecommunications experience are a shoe-in. CareerCast offers this to say about this job: “Each branch of the military deal
s with the most sophisticated telecommunications equipment in the world. The technicians charged with installing and maintaining this equipment enter the workforce with unparalleled insight and applied knowledge which typically exceeds the skills offered by recent college graduates who lack this real-world experience.”

And last but not least, number 10 is a Training and Development Manager. America’s Job Exchange describes a TDM as follows: “Responsible for creating and implementing training programs and overseeing the development of careers. Sets performance metrics, evaluates productivity, and helps workers create long-term career plans within an organization.” A TDM has an average annual salary of $95,400, making it the most lucrative job in the list.

Low VA Rates Buyer’s Guide E-Book

VA Loan Buyers Guide
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Low VA Rates recently created a buyer’s guide to assist veteran and military home owners through the VA loan process.  The VA home loan is a wonderful benefit for military home owners, but many veterans have questions about the loan and lack basic knowledge about the loan program. The Buyer’s Guide will help veteran home owners understand the basics of the VA home loan program and feel more comfortable with the loan process.

The e-book also gives some background and introductory information about Low VA Rates so the veteran home owner understands our commitment to military families. The Low VA Rates Buyer’s Guide e-book goes into greater detail about the specific benefits of using a VA home loan.  The e-book also discusses VA loan eligibility, COE, occupancy requirements, closing costs, the pre approval process and refinancing options.

The information is designed to give military home owners a strong foundation and knowledge base about their VA loan. We would love to here your feedback or comments about the Low VA Rates Buyer’s Guide e-book.  You can email your comments or suggestions to pr@lowvarates.com. We hope you enjoy the EBook and find it informational and educational.  Please feel free to contact us with any other questions at 866-569-8272.

To download the e-book click here.

LowVARates unveils new look web site to assist Military Families

LEHI, Utah, Oct. 27, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Low VA Rates recently updated its web site to better assist veterans and military families with the VA home loan process.

The new web site is designed to help veterans easily get started on the VA home loan process. The web site also has many informational quick links on the home page to help veterans quickly find what they are looking for.


Web site users can also receive quick assistance with the “Live Chat” feature that allows users to have online communication with a representative at Low VA Rates. Veterans with questions or concerns about VA home loans can also be directed to the “FAQ” page or learn more about the specific loan they are interested in by clicking on the “Refinance”, “Purchase” or “Hybrid Loan” links.

Owner of Low VA Rates, Eric Kandell, felt the old web site needed a new face and wanted to help people get into the VA home loan process quicker.
“The new home page is designed to get our customers into the VA loan process right away,” Kandell said. “Once we know some basic information and what type of loan the home owner is interested in, it becomes much easier for our professional loan officers to effectively assist the veteran home owner.”

The home page also features a great video about the VA Hybrid Loan. The VA Hybrid Loan continues to be a valuable option for many military home owners. The video on the home page helps military home owners understand the basics of the VA Hybrid Loan.

“The VA Hybrid Loan is one of the most misunderstood loans on the market today,” Kandell said. “We added the video of the VA Hybrid Loan on the home page to try and take away some of the negative perception that surrounds the VA Hybrid Loan.”

Low VA Rates also revamped the company blog on the web site. The new blog will help users easily find pertinent information about specific topics they are interested in. The new blog also helps users find the most recent blog posts, the most popular blogs and the blogs with the most interaction and discussion.
Low VA Rates prides itself in keeping content fresh and up to date on the company blog by posting new content daily. The content on the company blog varies from military news to VA home loan topics. All topics and posts on the company blog are always military or veteran related.

“We work really hard to keep the content on our blog fresh, entertaining and valuable to anyone that is interested in the U.S. military,” Kandell said. “At Low VA Rates we are passionate about the U.S. military and we try and make our blog a forum to discuss all things related to the military.”

The new web site also has links to all of the Low VA Rates social media pages. Low VA Rates is very active in social media and currently has pages/accounts for: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

The company is currently running a $2,500 home makeover on Facebook and is constantly looking for opportunities to give back to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. To view the home makeover contest click here.

To find out what recent customers are saying about the Low VA Rates and its staff, web site users can take advantage of the testimonial page. On the testimonials page, military families across the nation tell about their experiences with Low VA Rates and give advice to potential customers.
“We are really happy with the new changes on the web site and know it has become more user friendly,” Kandell said. “We are constantly trying to become more efficient at helping military home owners and we know the new web site layout will help customers have a better experience with Low VA Rates.”

The new Low VA Rates web site can be found at http://www.lowvarates.com/ 

How to Carry a Concealed Weapon Safely

This slide show has some excellent tips on how to effectively and safely carry a concealed weapon.

When an IRRRL Can Get a Little More Complicated

The VA offers a streamline refinancing option called the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL for short. As the name implies, the purpose of the IRRRL is to offer veterans a streamline refinance that can result in a lower interest rate, and generally a lower monthly payment. The IRRRL is a great option for veterans hoping to get more favorable terms on their mortgage for the rest of the loan. Refinancing in general can be done for one of several reasons: it could be that the borrower has saved up a large sum and would like to take a chunk out of the remaining principal all at once, then get new terms based on the remaining loan amount. It could be that the borrower is looking for a way to acquire a relatively large sum of money for a major purchase like a car or to start a business, so they refinance for an amount slightly larger than what they still owe on the home. And last, it could be simply that the borrower is looking for a lower interest rate and lower minimum monthly payment, and they now qualify for a better interest rate.

Streamline refinancing is usually a very attractive option because it usually does not require any further underwriting – the majority of the information is transferred over from the previous mortgage that the refinance is replacing. It would naturally come as a shock, then, when many borrowers applying for an IRRRL are asked to complete a new credit application or have their home re-appraised. Generally speaking, the VA does not require these things to be done over in order to apply for an IRRRL, but like most things in life, there are exceptions to this rule. What those things might be, well, that’s what we’re covering here. It may come as a relief that much of it hinges on the borrower.

For the most part, any IRRRL that would require a new credit application or appraisal would do so because of the refinancing needs of the borrower. Usually, the reason a borrower has for wanting to refinance and the results they’re hoping to see from the refinance can necessitate a new credit report and/or home appraisal. More specifically, the borrower’s wants or needs might end up raising the monthly payment from what it used to be. This is where a potential problem arises; just because the borrower was able to meet the previous monthly payment does not mean they will be able to meet a higher one. These borrowers can still get an IRRRL, there are just more steps involved.

The VA starts to get uneasy when the monthly payment is going to increase by 20% or more. In other words, if a $1000 monthly payment goes up to at least $1200, the VA will have extra steps to go through before the IRRRL can be approved. At that point, it means that the lender needs to go through the necessary paperwork to establish that the borrower has the income and stability to support the new amount. The VA regulations state:  “If the monthly payment…increases by 20 percent or more, the lender must determine that the veteran qualifies for the new payment from an underwriting standpoint; such as, determine whether the borrower can support the proposed shelter expense and other recurring monthly obligations in light of income established as stable and reliable…” But wait, folks there’s more.

Not only do those underwriting steps need to be repeated, but the lender must also provide a certification that the the borrower is financially prepared to take on the higher monthly mortgage payment, and the borrower and lender must both sign a statement that acknowledges that they understand the effect that the IRRRL will have on the monthly payments and interest rate. The statement must take all of the pertinent information from the previous loan and the new loan and compare them side-by-side, so that there is no way to misunderstand what the effects of the new loan will be.

Even in cases where the VA does not require an appraisal or credit check, the lender has flexibility in being able to require an appraisal if it is appropriate in the given situation, but they may be expected to account for and explain why an appraisal is being required.

A Dozen Ways to Have Patriotic Style

Showing your love for America can come in a lot of ways. This infographic below outlines a dozen simple ways you can show your patriotic colors while keeping is stylish and fun. Please share this if you like it and let us know what you’ve done on the past to show your American pride by leaving a comment.

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A Dozen Ways to Have Patriotic Style by Low VA Rates
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Disabled Veterans Get Their Pension Raises

Although considered only a partial solution to a persistent Pentagon problem, disabled military veterans will have cuts to their pensions restored as part of a new spending bill introduced Monday evening.  Budget chiefs released details of a $1 trillion spending deal, which includes a “fix,” as they are calling it, to help those military veterans who have medical disabilities, and some military widows.

“We came up with the fix for the disability and the survivor part, which is a down payment while they get ready to do comprehensive reform and get ready to do the presidential commission,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said ahead of the bill’s release Monday.  “So we made a down payment for the neediest, which were the disabled of working age and survivors.”

There were many changes that were made in last year’s budget agreement, the military pension being one of the most controversial.  The Pension changes will be addressed at a later time this year by the Senate Armed Services Committee and other panels.  In the budget deal reached by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan last month, the cut to military veterans included the reductions to disabled veterans’ pensions.  This cut would decrease the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees by a total of 1 percent over 10 years.

Drawing strong criticism from many groups and people, the inclusion of disabled veterans has left many veterans, and even politicians worried.  The criticism seems to be coming from all angles, like from veterans’ groups, members of Congress in both parties, and even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.  Seeing the amount of criticism and complaints from so many groups, Ryan and Murray quickly referred to it as a mistake and backed away from including veterans who retired for medical reasons.

Of the approximately $6 billion that was to be originally cut, the move to reverse the cuts for disabled military retirees as part of the new spending bill addresses less than a tenth of it.   Sen Jeff Sessions estimated that, coupled with a reversal of the decrease in annuities for military survivors, a provision to eliminate the COLA cuts for disabled vets would cost approximately $593 million.

“So you still have got the vast majority of people who served their country, have been receiving payments or expect payments, receiving quite a bit of reductions,” Sessions said.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte has been speaking against a handful of defense-related cuts in the budget agreement, including the decrease in the cost-of-living adjustment for those veterans who retired due to a service related injury.

“The more I press the Pentagon for answers, the more I learn how egregious the military benefit cuts are in the budget deal,” the New Hampshire Republican said.  “The cost-of-living adjustment cuts unfairly shortchange military retirees, military survivors, and the combat-injured to pay for more Washington spending.”

Ayotte only one of the handfuls of senators seeking a repeal of the military pension cuts to a three month extension of long-term unemployment insurance.  The measure previously stated would be paid for “within the budget window,” Ayotte and other senators said in a joint release.

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker said the decision to reverse the pension cuts for disabled vets would not keep him from voting for the appropriations bill. Wicker led an effort by Republican senators to attach an amendment reversing the cuts to the budget agreement, but were eventually unsuccessful.

“It may take a little steam out of our effort, but I just think it is so unfair to change the rules for veterans who have already completed their part of the bargain that I think eventually sometime in the next year or so, get the whole thing corrected,” Wicker said.  There is much to do if Congress is to restore the full funding of COLA, though.  Members of Congress have filed about a dozen bills in less than a month to help restore it.  Congress has plenty of options for rolling back many of the cuts made.

Some push for an outright repeal of the cuts, such as Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. Kay Hagan. Others, including Rep. Dan Maffei and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, are seeking to close a tax loophole used by offshore corporations to offset funding to reverse the cuts.  When asked at the National Press Club about Rep. Darrell Issa’s proposal to tie the funds to changes in the postal system, the Chief of Staff for the Army, Gen. Ray Odierno, said that he has “not thought about it being linked to anything else.”

“It’s time for us to look at pay and compensation… I believe if we continue on the path that we’re on, that we’ll have to reduce our end strength even more,” he added. His comments are similar to those made by Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, who both declined to say if the cuts from the Defense Department’s budget for 2015 could include compensation, or where they intend to try to cut.

Backing the budget agreement, the two Defense officials pitted themselves against veterans’ groups, including the Military Coalition and the Military Officers Association of America.  These groups continue to lobby lawmakers to restore the full $6 billion in cuts.Senators don’t expect to let the issue go.  Sen. Lindsey Graham said members will push to repeal the full cuts “until we get it fixed,” adding that he hopes a solution will be found by the November elections.

What is the Vow to Hire Heroes Act? Does it affect VA Loans?

The Vow to Hire Heroes Act was signed into law in November 2011. Its primary focus (as the name would imply), is to end or significantly reduce veteran unemployment. There are millions of job openings in the United States right now, but one of the biggest reasons that those jobs aren’t being filled is because of the specialized training they require. Many open jobs require training or certification in a certain field of technology, and many unemployed veterans do not have the education and training in those fields to take those jobs. As of November 2013, two years after the Vow to Hire Heroes Act was signed, veteran unemployment has dropped a full percentage point to 6.7%, now just .3% above unemployment among the civilian population.

The first thing that the Vow to Hire Heroes Act does is expand education and training assistance to unemployed and disabled veterans. For unemployed veterans, it can provide up to a full year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to assist veterans in getting into high-demand sectors like trucking and technology. For disabled veterans, it provides an additional year of VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits if their unemployment benefits have been exhausted. With funding and assistance targeted directly at enabling veterans to find better work, the Vow to Hire Heroes Act seems to have done very well.

The next thing the Vow to Hire Heroes Act does is improve on the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP is a program that helps educate servicemembers as they leave the military about civilian life. It explains many of the basics of job searching and working in the private sector. TAP helps a servicemember know how to translate their job and work experience in the military into civilian terms to help a potential employer know how valuable they are. The Vow makes TAP mandatory for nearly every servicemember leaving the military. The Vow also refreshes the program to make it applicable and relevant in the current job market.

For those veterans who would seek a civil service job as they leave the military, the Vow also allows them to acquire their veterans preference status prior to separation. Since getting a civil service job can sometimes take months, allowing the veteran to begin the process before separating reduces the likelihood that the veteran will need to use unemployment benefits after leaving the military. The Vow also brings the Department of Labor into the mix by requiring them to analyze the training that military members receive and compare them to licenses and certifications in the civilian world.

In regards to VA loans, the Vow to Hire Heroes Act merely changes the structure of the VA Loan funding fee. In actuality, the Vow to Hire Heroes Act just reverses some of the previous changes to the funding fee structure, so it changes it back to what it was before. The change to the funding fee structure is found in Section 265 of the Vow. The Vow, in effect as of November 22, 2011, brings the funding fee amounts back up to the levels that changed on November 18, 2011, just four days earlier. So for loans closed in between the 18th and 22nd of November 2011, the lower funding fees apply. But for loans closed on or after 11/22/2011, the higher funding fees apply.

Here are the funding fee rates for first-time use of a VA loan after 11/22/2011: If the down payment is less than 5%, active duty pays a 2.15% funding fee, and Guard/Reserve pays 2.4%. If the down payment is between 5% and 10% the funding fee is 1.5% for active duty, and 1.75% for Guard/Reserve. If the down payment is higher than 10%, the funding fee for active duty is 1.25% and for Guard/Reserve is 1.5%.

Here are the funding fee rates for subsequent uses of VA loans closes on or after 11/22/2011: If the down payment is less than 5%, active duty pays a 3.3% funding fee, and Guard/Reserve also pays a 3.3% funding fee. If the down payment is between 5% and 10%, the funding fee is 1.5% for active duty, and 1.75% for Guard/Reserve. For down payments over 10%, the funding fee is 1.25% for active duty and 1.5% for Guard/Reserve. As you can see, for down payments over 5%, the funding fees for subsequent uses are the same as they are for first-time use.

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*Annual savings calculator based on 2015 monthly average savings extrapolated year-to-date.