Getting a Job after Active Duty

How to Get a Job after Military ServiceIf military service is all you know, jumping into the job search after you’ve been discharged can be intimidating and overwhelming. There are thousands of jobs out there and even more candidates for them. How do you find a job you’ll like and stand out above the competing candidates?

With a little research, preparation, and hard work, you’ll snatch a 9 to 5 in no time. Just follow a few of these tips to make it a breeze!

Preparing for a Career on Active Duty

Preparing to get a job after discharge while you’re still on active duty makes a huge difference during your job search. Here are a couple tips to make sure you’re entering the job search in the best condition possible.

  • Fill gaps in your resume: When you were and were not working is just as important as where you were working. If you have gaps in your employment history, it raises questions about your work ethic, even if you spent those gaps working hard at school, on humanitarian trips, or on active duty in the military. Be sure to fill the empty spaces in your resume by listing experiences you had during those employment gaps and describing how they can help you in the jobs you’re applying for.
  • Get a degree or other certifications: If at all possible, try to get a degree in between deployment tours and other military duties. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a many education benefits, so if it is not possible to complete a degree while on active duty, be sure to take advantage of those benefits to get an education before you head out into the job search.
  • Build a network: While on active duty, talk to veterans and civilians you know about their jobs, and what they like or don’t like about them. Seeking advice from those who have found success in a field you want to go into can help you build useful contacts, which can, in turn, help you find open positions when you’re ready for a new job.

Starting the Job Search After Active Duty

Once you are released from active duty, and you’re ready to find your new job, follow these tips to make the job search as smooth as possible.

  • Revamp your resume: Your resume acts as your first impression when trying to find a new job, so make sure it’s a good one. Your active-duty military service gave you a lot of useful skills for being a successful employee after you’re released (discipline, punctuality, ability to follow instructions, etc.). Take advantage of programs designed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to help you translate your military experience into skills for employment. Be sure to fill in the employment gaps (like I talked about previously) and read over your resume many times to make sure it’s free of grammar mistakes and other errors.
  • Use social media: Social media can definitely be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be seen as a useless void that wastes hours of time. But on the other hand, it can be a useful tool for marketing yourself during a job search. The most important social media platform to have is a LinkedIn account. A strong majority of hiring managers will look for candidates on LinkedIn and look at their profiles before even considering asking them in for an interview. In this technology-driven world, it’s important to build a full, complete LinkedIn profile and use it to your advantage when searching for a job. It’s also important to make sure your other social media profiles support your claim that you are a professional, responsible, and qualified candidate.
  • Prepare for interviews: You may feel that you’re a pro at interviews after all the ones you had to go through while on active duty in the military. However, every interview is different, and a job interview atmosphere is a lot different than the military interview atmosphere. It’s important to prepare accordingly. Practice common job interview questions with a friend or a family member. It might be useful to practice in front of a mirror too in order to observe your own body language and make sure you appear calm, personable, and professional. Prior to going into an interview, take time to research the company and position you’re applying for and know why you want to work there.
  • Know what you want: You may be anxious to just jump into any job that you’re offered, but before you do, make sure it’s something you want. Yes, a job is a job, and sometimes we have to accept jobs we don’t necessarily love, but when you commit 8 hours of your life there every day, you should at least be doing something you enjoy. If you love your job, you will be more inclined to strive to succeed at it, and you will feel more satisfied with your life.

 

Low VA Rates can help you make sure you have a cozy house to come home to after a long day at work. Visit our website to learn more about us and how we can help with your mortgage search.  

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Department of Defense

What is the Department of Defense?Facts about the Department of Defense

The Department of Defense’s mission states that it is responsible for providing “military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.” Since its creation during the Revolutionary War, it has been the key to winning seemingly insurmountable battles and organizing operations vital to our nation’s security. Find out some fun facts about one of the most important and powerful government organizations in the United States.

Fun Facts about the Department of Defense

      1. The Department of Defense is the largest organization in the U.S. government, and the largest employer in the country. It employs 1.8 million civilians and active-duty military members. That is more than the amount of employees Exxon, Ford, GE, General Motors, and Mobil have combined.
      2. The Pentagon is the national headquarters for the Department of Defense. The pentagon is three times bigger than the Empire State Building in regards to square footage, and has 17 miles of hallways. It takes a whole 10 minutes to walk from one end of the Pentagon to the other. Although marble is used in most government buildings in Washington D.C., the Pentagon contains none of it. Instead, it was built with steel and concrete. This is because the Pentagon was built during World War II when Italy, the world’s supplier of marble, was not an American ally.
      3. The Department of Defense uses 12,600,000 gallons of fuel every day, and 4,600,000,000 gallons every year. The Department uses more fuel in one day than the whole country of North Korea uses in a year.
      4. In 2010, the Department of Defense needed a supercomputer, but they wanted it to be cost efficient and environmentally friendly. Instead of starting from scratch, the Department of Defense commissioned a computer to be built out of over 1,700 PlayStation 3’s!
      5. When the Department of Defense was first created in 1789, it was called the War Department. In 1947, it was renamed for the first time and became the National Military Establishment. Two years later, in 1949, President Harry Truman changed the name for the last time to the Department of Defense.
      6. The DoD has a program called the Department of Defense Excess Property Program. Every year, they give away over $500 million worth of leftover weapons to both local and state law enforcements, militarizing the general population.
      7. The Department of Defense oversees the funds for all ventures for the United States armed forces except nuclear weapons. The funds allotted for nuclear weapons are handled by the Department of Energy.
      8. In addition to being the nation’s largest employer, the Department of Defense manages about 30 million acres of land all over the world. They use the land for bases, airfields, training centers, military academies, depots, active-duty living quarters, and more.
      9. The DoD is in charge of the operations for only four of the five branches of the United States armed forces: the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, and the Army. The fifth branch, the Coast Guard, is operated by the Department of Homeland Security.
      10. The yearly budget for the Department is over half of a trillion dollars. Throughout the year, they spend a majority of that money on private defense contractors who are responsible for providing everything for the military from things like uniforms, blankets, and food to state-of-the-art weapons, planes, and military vehicles.

Department of Defense EmployeesDepartment of Defense Employees: The Real Heroes

Low VA Rates is honored to work with those who have been employed by the Department of Defense. We want to give back to the veterans who sacrificed so much of themselves to serve in the U.S. armed forces by helping them secure VA home loans. To learn more about what we can do for you, visit our website at www.lowvarates.com.


Low VA Rates Contributes to Follow the Flag

Celebrating the Fourth of July

The Stars and Stripes is significant for more than its designation as our country’s standard. To some it is a symbol of freedom. To others, it’s a banner of courage. Kyle Fox, a Pleasant Grove native, has created a new way to celebrate the flag on Independence Day.

A Free Independence Day Event for Utahns

Fox obtained a license to run a cable across Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove and hang a 30- by 60-foot flag. The week-long event is called “Follow the Flag.” On the Fourth of July, a day-long event is held to specifically honor the flag, and the day kicks off with a ceremony. With the firing of cannons and hundreds of people singing the national anthem, the flag is unfurled in an emotional display of pride for our country on its Interdependence Day.

Here is a full schedule of the events for that week:

Free Independence Day Event on the Fourth of July in Utah

Contributing to this Utah County Celebration

This year, Low VA Rates didn’t just want to stand by and watch. We wanted to contribute to this amazing program to show our love and respect for Old Glory. In order to do that, Low VA Rates is sponsoring the spotlight that will light the flag at night throughout the week that it hangs in the canyon.

In addition to the heartwarming flag ceremony, there will be other activities that week, including a 5K run through the canyon, and Boy Scouts who participate in the ceremony will receive a scouting patch called “Hope for Tomorrow.” Feel free to join Low VA Rates on Independence Day in Grove Creek Canyon for the flag ceremony and more fun activities to celebrate our nation’s wonderful flag and everything it stands for.

How will you be celebrating Independence Day this year?

 

 

10 Common Words and Phrases that Originated in the Military

Americans hardly go an hour without using an abstract phrase that everyone knows, but no one really understands. Some of them come from instances of mishearing something or vernacular that was originally used for specific jobs or trades, but did you know a lot of the figures of speech we use today come from the military? Check out these ten everyday phrases that originated in the U.S. armed forces.

Do You Speak Military?

Deadline

This word, which today means a date or time by which something is due, originated in the Army during the Civil War. When the military took prisoners of war, they would draw a line around the entire group’s allowed living spaces. If prisoners crossed the line, they were shot, no exceptions. The line around the camp became known as the deadline because you died if you crossed it.

Bite the Bullet

To “bite the bullet” means to do something unpleasant or difficult. During the Civil War, chloroform and whiskey (used for early anesthetics) ran out. However, there was no lack of injured soldiers, and surgeries and amputations were daily occurrences. Because the soldiers were awake and fully aware of what was going on while their injured limbs were being operated on or removed, they were given bullets to bite down on. Apparently it provided soldiers a way to channel their pain and helped them stay relatively still during the surgery.

With Flying ColorsWith Flying Colors is a Phrase that Originated in the Miitary

This phrase means to do something really well, and it originated in the Navy. There were strict regulations for when to fly their flags, also called their colors, during battles. One such regulation said that a flag was to be flown for the length of the battle and only brought down if the ship surrendered. However, if a ship emerged from battle “with flying colors,” it meant that they were victorious.

Heard it through the Grapevine

This common phrase originated during the Civil War when telegraphs were just starting to be used. The wires used for telegraphy were twisted around each other and wooden pillars, which lead the soldiers to refer to them as grapevines.

Scuttlebutt

This common nickname for gossip originated in the Navy. While out at sea, the scuttlebutt was a barrel where all the water on the ship was kept. While soldiers went to the scuttlebutt to get a drink, chit-chat would ensue. Eventually the name of the watering place became synonymous with the petty gossip swapped there.

Blockbuster

Today, blockbuster is a term used to refer to a movie that amassed great success in the box office. But during World War II, a blockbuster was a bomb big enough to wipe out entire city blocks with just one drop.

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law states that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” It was named after an Air Force Captain named Edward A. Murphy. He coined the term after inspecting an airplane whose electrical wiring had been done incorrectly. He thought the electrical engineer on the plane was completely incompetent, which lead him to exclaim, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.” The quote was simplified and became affectionately known as “Murphy’s Law.”

The Term Sideburn Originated in the Military with Ambrose BurnsideSideburns

Civil War general Ambrose Burnside was known for his unique and novel ways of styling his facial hair. He usually sported long whiskers on his cheeks, and when other men started copying the same look, they called their new style burnsides. Eventually the word was transposed, and people referred to the hair that grew on men’s cheeks as sideburns.  

Dear John

This is the name of an infamous breakup letter sent to boyfriends who have been gone for a long time. The name originated during World War II when soldiers would over-analyze the salutations in the letters sent from their girlfriends back home. The smart men noticed that letters of women who were still faithfully in love with their soldier would address their letters with flowery phrases like “My dearest love.” However, when feelings were fading, women would address their letters simply, “Dear (Name).” Once a letter was addressed like this, a breakup letter was sure to follow. Using the anonymous John Doe, soldiers began to call their breakup notes “Dear John letters.”

Loose Cannon

When someone is a “loose cannon,” they have an unpredictable temper and can get mad at seemingly any moment. The term originated in the Navy’s early history when soldiers would tie cannons down so that they didn’t slide around or misfire while the ship was sailing. Sometimes cannons slipped free from their ties when the water was rough, and the cannons would slide around the deck. When that happened, soldiers would call the weapons loose cannons.

Military Words and Their Origina TestChallenge Completed: Tell Us How You Did!

How many of those phrases do you use every day? And did you know they started with the military? Tell us what you learned!

Just like obscure, everyday phrases that everyone knows and no one understands, Low VA Rates knows that maneuvering a home loan can be confusing. We want to make the process as smooth as possible. For more information on how we can help you, please visit our website at www.lowvarates.com.

 

 

How Dogs Can Help Combat Vets with PTSD

Man’s Best Friend Could Save Your Life

It’s been said that a dog is man’s best friend. But what if dogs could also be the key to a soldier’s mental health after serving our country during combat? There hasn’t been a lot of research or hard evidence about the effects of emotional support dogs on veterans with PTSD, but with the increasing number of success stories, that is changing. Although the companionship of emotional support dogs should not be used in place of professional care, they can be an immense help in addition to a veteran’s medicines, therapies, and/or treatments. Find out how dogs are helping combat veterans who struggle with PTSD. 

This short video clip demonstrates how some emotional support animals can be of help to returning combat vets.

PTSD Explained

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness brought on by experiencing horrifying, life-threatening, and dangerous events, like fighting in a war or living through a natural disaster. People with PTSD suffer from sever anxiety, flashbacks that feel intensely real, overwhelming and ever-present thoughts and memories of the events, and nightmares. These fears and anxieties spur behaviors that make it difficult to carry out simple, everyday tasks and experiences. For example, a veteran who experienced torture from a captor may not trust strangers and may be afraid of standing near or talking to people they aren’t familiar with. Or perhaps a veteran was injured in an explosion, which makes him afraid to enter a building unless he knows it’s safe and secure.

Emotional Support Dogs for Veterans

It’s important to know that service dogs and emotional support dogs are two different things. Support dogs are trained to help those who are physically disabled by learning to do things that their handlers can’t, and they are officially certified to be classified as support dogs. Emotional support dogs are not officially certified, and they are trained differently. Emotional support dogs can be trained to stand near their handler while in public, making sure that strangers stay at a safe distance away. Dogs can also be trained to walk through the house or building to assure their owners that the space is safe and secure. But the benefits of having an emotional support dog don’t end there. For veterans that experience bitterness or anger at their experiences, having a dog can help draw out and capitalize on feelings of love and acceptance. They also make good companions for those who fear being left alone. The possibilities for help are endless.

Veteran Organizations that Provide Emotional Support Animals

K9s For Warriors

K9s For Warriors is an organization that specializes in providing emotional support dogs for veterans experiencing PTSD. According to their website, their mission is to “empower them [veterans] to return to civilian life with dignity and independence” with the help of canines. K9s For Warriors trains rescue dogs to pick up on signs from their owners that they are experiencing severe anxiety, flashbacks, or nightmares and then  help calm them down. Each dog is specifically paired with a veteran, and the organization boasts a 100% success rate since their beginning in 2011. They have never had a veteran/dog pair fail, and they have saved many soldiers who have contemplated suicide.

Watch this touching video that expands on a real-life success story from K9s for Warriors.

Patriot PAWS

Patriot PAWS is another organization striving to provide service animals for veterans. While K9s For Warriors deals specifically with veterans with PTSD, Patriot PAWS provides service animals for veterans with physical disabilities as well as mental illnesses. They also work to personally pair service animals and veterans for a successful road to recovery.

If you suffer from PTSD, making a new furry friend could help. It’s important to reiterate, however, that using an emotional support dog should not be used to replace clinical PTSD treatment, but instead should be used in conjunction with that treatment. If you decide to invite a new pet into your family, Low VA Rates wants to make sure you have the right home for your existing family and your new addition. To learn more about how our team of experienced loan officers can help, please visit our website.

Emotional Support Animals/Dogs Help Some Combat Veterans with PTSD

RED Friday Giveaway

What Does RED Friday Mean?

 

If you follow hash tags on social media, you may have come across a growing trend: RED Friday. But what is it exactly? What does it mean, and why would anyone want to be a part of it?

Find out what this movement is, and why more and more Americans are becoming a part of it.

Remember Everyone Deployed

RED Friday is a national movement that honors those who serve our country in the United States Armed Forces. RED stands for Remember Everyone Deployed, and they strive to “Honor Through Remembrance.” Organizations and companies nationwide participate in this weekly, and here at Low VA Rates, we wanted in on the fun. As we help veterans secure VA home loans every day, the ideals behind RED Friday went hand-in-hand with our company goals.

RED Friday: Get Involved!

RED Friday Giveaway to Remember Everyone Deployed

 

For a few months now, we’ve been celebrating RED Friday every week, and we want you to celebrate with us! We have created our very own tee-shirts for RED Friday, and one of them could be yours. To win, simply post a picture of yourself wearing red. Be sure to tag @LowVARates and use the hashtag #HonorThroughRemembrance. Various winners will be chosen weekly.

Be a part of this giveaway, but even more importantly, remember those that are serving abroad. We owe so much to them and the brave families to pray for their safe return home. So why not thank them when you can and in any way you can – even if it’s through a small gesture like wearing red on Friday’s?

Military Food: Feeding the Forces

Meals and Rations for Soldiers in the Army, Navy, Air ForceThere is nothing better than a home-cooked meal still steaming as it’s pulled from the oven. But what do you do when there is no room or time to prepare a home-cooked meal for thousands of soldiers?

You create rations.

The goal of military food is pretty simple. The armed forces needed food that could be prepared and distributed quickly, easy to eat, on-the-go, and stored for a long time. So the military had to get a little creative. Find out what soldiers ate throughout history and how it has become the military food of today!

The History of Military Food

The history of military food dates back to the Revolutionary War when there were two kinds of food allowances: garrison rations and spirit rations. Garrison rations consisted of meat or salted fish, vegetables, and bread or hardtack (a type of biscuit made with flour, water, and sometimes salt). The spirit ration was four ounces of rum in 1785 but was reduced to two ounces of brandy, whisky, or rum in 1790. Soldiers who were preparing to fight on the front lines, or who were just returning from combat, were eligible to receive double the spirit ration.

In 1832, the spirit ration was replaced by coffee and sugar, and these allowances were in use until after the Spanish-American War.

During World War I, the food supplies were revised, and three different meals were introduced. In 1907, the iron ration was created and consisted of small biscuits made from beef bouillon powder and wheat. In addition to the biscuits, the meal package included chocolate, and salt and pepper. These meals were only meant to be eaten in emergencies when fresh food couldn’t be obtained or prepared.

In 1917, in the midst of trench warfare, the armed forces discovered that gas attacks were ruining their iron rations. To remedy this, the trench ration was introduced. It was simply a can of meat (usually salmon, beef, or sardines). As you can imagine, these meals were unappetizing, and the cans were heavy, making them harder to transport and stock in the trenches. The trench ration only lasted until 1918.

The reserve ration was introduced in 1917, the same year as the trench ration, but still wasn’t used in the trenches because the armed forces still worried that the food would be spoiled by the gas attacks.  The new meal included meat (usually bacon or canned meat), bread or hardtack, coffee, sugar, salt, tobacco, and 10 cigarettes.

The military food system was completely redone with the onset of World War II. Using feedback from soldiers, the The History of the Military Diet and Military Meals including World War II Rationsarmed forces created a system of five different meals to be used in different circumstances during military service.

The first was the A-ration, which was fresh or frozen food that could be prepared in a kitchen, if one was available. The B-ration was similar to the A-ration in that it could be prepared in a kitchen, but it consisted of canned, packaged, or preserved food to be used when refrigeration was not available.

C-rations were pre-cooked, ready-to-eat meals that resembled the reserve rations from World War I. K-rations were introduced for soldiers that were traveling for short durations and included meat, cheese, candy, powdered milk, sugar, salt, cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, and a bouillon packet.

The final food allowance was called a D-ration, and it was meant to be used in emergencies when other food could not be obtained. The D-ration consisted of a single bar of chocolate that had been fortified with nutrients and other ingredients so that it was high in calories.

Military Food Today

The A- and B-rations are still used by the armed forces today, but the other military meals have been updated or done away with altogether. The C-ration was replaced in 1983 by the Meal Ready-to-Eat, commonly called an MRE. The MRE includes a main course, a side dish, crackers (or bread), a spread (usually cheese, jelly, or peanut butter), a dessert, a powdered beverage mix, a utensil, a small heater to heat the food, a beverage mixing bag, and an accessory pack that includes gum, matches, napkins, toilet paper, wet wipes, and seasonings like salt, pepper, sugar, coffee creamer, and tabasco sauce.

Each MRE is about 1,200 calories and is fortified with nutrients to keep soldiers in good health during their military service. The MRE can be stored for up to three years, but the military aims to use up and replace the MREs every 21 days. The menu options for MREs change often, but they usually include things like chili, cheese tortellini, ratatouille, or spaghetti.

About Low VA Rates

Home Cooked Meal for a Veteran, Military FamilyMilitary food has come a long way since its inception in the late 1700s, but nothing can compare to a home-cooked meal. At Low VA Rates, our strong team of certified loan officers has been helping veterans secure VA loans for over 10 years. We have the training and experience necessary to help you fund the home base you and your loved ones can gather in. 

For more information on our rates or to check your eligibility for a VA loan, feel free to visit our website.

 

 

American Traditions and Gestures Explained

Whenever you visit a new country, do you enjoy learning about all the customs of a new culture – even if they seem a little unfamiliar at first? Something equally interesting is learning about how the citizens celebrate their love and respect for their country. Some of the ways we show respect for our country may seem odd to those who visit the United States, but perhaps a few explanations can help curb the confusion.

But visitors aren’t the only ones who may be confused. In fact, when it comes down to the details of even our most pervasive traditions, many Americans don’t know why we do them. For example, do you know why American soldiers salute with a downward-facing palm? Or why you place your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance? Find out what it means when you participate in these American traditions!

The US Military Salute: What It Means

Why Do Soldiers Salute with Their Palm Face DownYou’ve probably seen American service men and women salute time and time again, but do you know how it all began and why they continue to do it today?

It is believed that the military salute, placing a hand to the brim of the hat or forehead, originated in Medieval England. Knights raised their visors so that their leaders and fellow knights could see their faces when giving or receiving orders or when talking to each other.

During the Revolutionary War, soldiers were required to remove their hats when talking to their officers and leaders. However, soon their hats became more elaborate and harder to take off swiftly, so touching a hand to the brim of that hat became the saluting custom.

Soldiers in the US military are required to salute with their right hand unless they are holding the flag with it, in which case they salute with their left. Saluting with the palm facing down originated in the Navy, when the palms of the soldiers saluting their officers were dirty due to work on the ship. Saluting with a dirty hand was considered an insult, so in order to show respect, the soldiers turned their palms downwards.

The Pledge of Allegiance: How It Started

If you grew up in the United States, you probably started each school day off by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Americans learn and memorize the words to this pledge at a very young age. But who wrote this pledge, and how has it changed over time to shape America?

Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in August 1892 and it was first published in the Youth’s Companion, a children’s magazine. When Bellamy first wrote it, it read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” He didn’t make reference to a specific country because he hoped it would be a pledge used to salute flags in countries all over the world. In 1923, the words were changed to “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,” making the pledge specific to the U.S.

The words, “under God,” were added by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Communism was an ever-present Why Do You Put Your Hand On Your Heart During the Pledge of Allegiancethreat during that time, and President Eisenhower wanted to make it clear that the American nation believed in God.

After he signed the bill finalizing the change, President Eisenhower said, “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim . . . the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty . . . In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war.”

When the pledge was first written, Bellamy instructed that citizens reciting the pledge should begin with a right-handed military salute, and after saying “to the flag,” should extend their arms towards the flag. Shortly after the original pledge was written, it was decided that citizens would start with their right hand over their hearts and then extend their arms.

The tradition was changed once again after World War II, when it was believed that extending the right arm towards the flag looked too much like the Nazi salute, and it was decided that citizens should place their right hand over their hearts while reciting the whole Pledge of Allegiance.

The American National Anthem

Finally, think about the national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. From ball games to Boy Scouts, this song is played often throughout this nation and nearly every American knows its revered lyrics. How did this song come to hold so much meaning?

Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer, wrote the national anthem on September 14, 1814. America was in the midst of the War of 1812, and the British were attacking Fort McHenry on the coast of Baltimore. Key was in a boat approaching the bay when he saw the fire of the battle lighting up the night. When morning finally came, and the smoke started to clear, Key saw the American flag flying above the fort, signifying that the Americans had won what would be known as the Battle of Baltimore.

Relieved and proud to see his country’s flag, Key poured out his thoughts on paper in a poem called “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Not only did the words of his poem become the American National Anthem, the title of the poem became a popular nickname for the country’s flag.

Today “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung during religious programs, ceremonies, sports events, and countless other gatherings. While singing or listening to the national anthem, citizens place their right hand over their heart and face the flag. The right hand is placed over the heart for both reciting the pledge of allegiance or singing the national anthem as a sign of love and respect for the United States.

About Low VA Rates

Low VA Rates is proud to serve those who salute, pledge, and sing their allegiance to our country through their selfless and loyal military service. Without you, we wouldn’t have these traditions today! That’s why we try to help in the best way we know how—right at home. For more information on how we can help you secure a VA home loan, or to contact us, please visit our website at www.lowvarates.com.

Women Who Fought in the Civil War

During the American Civil War, women weren’t allowed to join the battles, but many weren’t content to stay home while their fathers, brothers, husbands, cousins, uncles, grandfathers, and other loved ones went off to fight.

Instead of staying behind, hundreds of women disguised themselves as men and changed their names in order to fight for their country with their families. Find out more about the brave women who took drastic action to be able to serve in their military and fight for their country.

The First American Women in the Military

Because many women were able to keep up their disguises until the end of the Civil War, the exact number who Learn About Some of the First Female Soldiers in America, Women Who Fought in the Civil War.fought is unknown, but it is estimated that around 400-750 women served alongside the men.

The motivations that drove women to disguise themselves and fight in the Civil War were similar to the motivations of the men who fought. Soldiers were fighting for a cause they believed in, whether that was the union of the existing United States or the independence of the Confederate States. In addition to fighting out of patriotism, women and men would have known that joining the war efforts promised a steady wage. Plus, some women were hungering for adventure.

Below, we’ve written about three of the many stories of the brave women who fought in the Civil War.

Sarah Edmonds Seelye

Sarah Edmonds Seelye is one of the courageous women who went to war, but that wasn’t her first experience disguising herself as man. When Sarah was young, she lived in Canada with her abusive father. At just 16 years old, she ran away and worked in a small Canadian town for a year.

Living in constant fear that her father would find her, Edmonds decided to leave to seek refuge in the United States. In order to make it across the border, however, she would need to be accompanied by a man (which she didn’t exactly have handy). So she disguised herself as one and changed her name to “Franklin Thompson.”

Once in the US, Edmonds worked as a Bible salesman, but she wanted to do something more when the Civil War broke out. She became Franklin Thompson once again and went to war on the Union side. While in the Army, she served as a medic, a mail carrier, a spy, and a soldier. She suffered many injuries during her service, but she never sought medical attention for fear that she would be discovered.

In 1863, Edmonds applied for furlough so that she could return home and get treatment for her injuries. Her request was denied, causing her to abandon her post as a Union soldier. Franklin Thompson was charged with desertion.

Once she returned home, Edmonds wrote a book about her time as a disguised soldier, which helped clear her military record. She became the only woman to receive pension and military awards for her service in the Civil War.

Jennie Hodgers

Jennie Hodgers was born in Ireland, but few things are known about her life before she joined the war. A detailed history of her life begins on August 6, 1862, when Jennie enlisted in the Union army with the name “Albert Cashier.” She served for three years and fought in over 40 battles before she was released from duty in 1865.

However, Jennie wasn’t content to leave behind the benefits of being a man. Instead of revealing her true identity, Jennie continued to live as Albert so that she could receive her pension and vote in government elections. While disguised as a man after the war, Jennie held odd jobs like working as a farmhand, a lamplighter, a janitor, and a cemetery worker.

When Jennie died in 1915, she was buried in her military uniform and her grave stone was marked with her alias, Albert Cashier. Fifty-five years later, a gravestone with her given name was placed next to the original marker.

Sarah Rosetta Wakeman

Like Jennie Hodgers, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman’s life before enlisting in the Union army is relatively unknown. She was born and raised the oldest of nine children on a farm in New York. When she was 19 years old, she didn’t have any prospects or plans for marriage, and she knew her family was in debt.

Instead of going to work as a domestic for slim wages, she decided to disguise herself as a man to find work that paid better. While she was working on a coal barge, she learned that she could earn far more if she joined the Army. So she enlisted as Lyons Wakeman.

Sarah wrote many letters to her family, and they saved every one of them, giving historians an interesting insight into the life of a female soldier of the time period. Sarah served on guard duty in Virginia and Washington DC before she was transferred to another regiment where she fought in many battles.

In 1864, after only two years serving in the army, Sarah died from an unidentified disease. As far as anyone knows, her true gender was never discovered, and her male alias was the name placed on her grave marker.

History of Women Who Serve in the Military, Past and PresentWomen Who Serve: A Legacy of Bravery

Although they don’t have to disguise themselves to serve in the United States armed forces anymore, women still exhibit courage by enlisting in a military that has only recently officially opened its doors to them.

Low VA Rates is honored to serve the brave women and men of the military by helping them secure VA home loans. To get more information about a loan or to contact us, please visit our website at www.lowvarates.com.

Pat Tillman’s Legacy of Loyalty

Patrick and Mary Tillman welcomed their first baby boy, Patrick Daniel Tillman, on November 6, 1976. Just as their baby boy changed their lives by making them parents, Pat continued to change the lives of millions of Americans by living a life of loyalty and sacrifice—and he did it all within a short lifetime of just 27 years.

If you don’t know Pat Tillman, take a few minutes to get to know him and find out why this man and the heroes like him deserve to be remembered.  

Tillman’s Early Life and Childhood

Pat Tillman was raised with his two younger brothers in San Jose, California, and he grew up a fun-loving little boy Pat Tillman, a Legend of Loyalty and an American Herowho was an avid reader. Even as a kid, he was loyally devoted to his family and friends, doing everything he could for those he loved.

He started playing football as a linebacker at Leland High School, and he quickly excelled at the sport, leading his team to the Central Coast Division I Football Championship. When he graduated high school, he accepted a scholarship to play football at Arizona State University.

He was both a talented athlete and a brilliant student. He was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and the Arizona State University Most Valued Player of the Year in 1997, and he won the Clyde B. Smith Academic Award two years in a row in 1996 and 1997.

After his successful college football career, he was drafted into the NFL in 1998 and played as a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. The loyalty he exhibited towards his family and friends as a boy carried over to his NFL team, and he turned down a multi-million dollar contract playing for the St. Louis Rams in order to stay with the Cardinals. Pat’s integrity set him apart, and eventually, it led him to something else entirely.

Putting Country over Career

In 2002, in light of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, loyalty to the United States inspired Pat and his younger brother Kevin to take action. The brothers, who both had budding and lucrative sporting careers (Pat in the NFL, Kevin in the MBA), left their professional dreams to join the Army.

Of his decision to join the military, Tillman said, “Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful. However, these last few years, and especially after recent events, I’ve come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is . . . It’s no longer important.”

Just as he had excelled in his football career, he showed great talent in his military service. After completing basic training in September of 2002, he and his brother were deployed, and they both participated in the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning from Iraq, Tillman enrolled in Ranger School and graduated in November 2003. After graduating and becoming an Army ranger, he was deployed again, this time to Afghanistan.

Tragic Death of a Hero

While on a tour in Afghanistan, the vehicle being driven by Tillman’s platoon broke down during a routine search of an Afghani village, and the platoon was forced to split up. While half of the platoon stayed behind to fix the vehicle, Tillman went with the other half to finish the search.

The troops who stayed behind were attacked by the Taliban, and Tillman’s half of the soldiers ran to the rescue. Tragically, they were misidentified as enemy troops, and Tillman was killed in friendly fire on April 22, 2004.

Tillman’s Legacy Lives On

Professional Football Player Turned Soldier and Army Ranger Killed in CombatAfter his death, Tillman’s legacy of loyalty, love, talent, and brilliance was honored in many ways. His official memorial ceremony was televised on May 3, 2004. He was promoted to Corporal and honored with the Silver Star and Purple Heart awards posthumously.

His talent and loyalty on the football field were also remembered after his death. ASU and the Arizona Cardinals retired Tillman’s jersey numbers (#42 and #40 respectively), and in May 2010, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Tillman’s wife, his high school sweetheart, Marie Ugenti Tillman, founded the Pat Tillman Foundation, which gives veterans and their spouses scholarships to continue and complete their college degrees. The Pat Tillman Foundation partnered with the NFL to create a scholarship for student athletes who embody Tillman’s loyalty and ambition.

We at Low VA Rates are honored to give back to brave men and women like Pat Tillman and his loved ones. One way we do this is by offering a scholarship of our own, which aids military service members and their families as they pursue a higher education. For more information on this scholarship or on the other services we provide, visit our website.

The U.S. Army Song

Throughout history, music has had an immeasurable impact on cultures all over the world. It is often said that music is a universal language, something that brings people from all walks of life together. The influence of music plays a huge role in day-to-day life, so it’s no wonder that each branch of the armed forces has an anthem of its own. The U.S. Army’s official song has a unique history and a lasting place in American culture. Find out how it came to be such a valued tradition to the men and women who serve in this branch.

Army Song History

Edmund L. Gruber (later to be Brigadier General) wrote a hymn called “The Caisson Song” in 1908 by during his US Army Official Song Historytime as a field artillery first lieutenant stationed at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines. Although it wasn’t the Army’s official anthem yet, the lyrics chronicled the daily routines of the horse-drawn field artillery units. In 1917, John Philip Sousa altered the tune of “The Caisson Song” to make it more march-like and upbeat. After the melody was altered, the name was changed to “The Field Artillery Song.”

By 1948, all the branches of the armed forces had an official song except the Army. In order to find an official anthem, they held a nationwide contest but still couldn’t settle on one to fit the bill. Four years later, in 1952, Frank Pace, the secretary of the U.S. Army at that time, asked for another round of composition submissions. From these they chose one called “The Army’s Always There,” written by Sam Stept, to become the official U.S. Army song. It was first performed at President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration, but the public didn’t like the melody, so it was back to the drawing board.

Ultimately, in 1956, the Army decided to write new lyrics, set them to the tune of Gruber’s “The Caisson Song,” and call it “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” The new lyrics were written by Harold W. Arberg, the adjutant general’s music advisor. The lyrics honored the history of the Army, lauded its present progress, and celebrated its bright future. On November 11, 1956 (Veteran’s Day), Wilber Marion Brucker, the secretary of the army at that time, dedicated the song, and the Army finally had an official anthem of its own.

Singing “The Army Goes Rolling Along”

“The Army Goes Rolling Along” is sung at the end of every Army ceremony, and every soldier is required to sing it while standing. They are typically accompanied by the U.S. Army Band, but sometimes when the band is unable to play, the troops sing a cappella or with a recording. During ceremonies when all the branches of the armed forces are present, they sing their official anthems together in a medley. The Department of Defense established a sequence in which to sing the official anthems when this occurs, and the Army’s song is the first one sung in the medley, followed by the anthems of the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard, in that order. Sometimes, the order is reversed so that “The Army Goes Rolling Along” is the finale of the medley. This is rare and has to be approved by the Department of Defense before it is performed. Civilians are allowed and encouraged to sing the tunes of the armed forces, so long as they sing them in the official order when singing a medley.

The Army Song in Pop Culture

The Army Goes Rolling Along, the US Army SongThis official anthem isn’t just popular in the Army. The melody has been used many times in everyday culture, and the words in the chorus are the most widely known lyrics. In the 1960s, soon after “The Army Goes Rolling Along” became the Army’s official song, Hasbro used the melody in a commercial for their newly released G.I. Joe toys. Twenty years later, in the 1980s, they used the melody again to market the Army Ant toys. In addition to countless other commercials and marketing material, the melody and lyrics have been used in over 40 different movies and TV shows. Even several college fight songs are based on the tune, and North Carolina State University’s fight song is just a sped up version of the melody.
Here at Low VA Rates, we love hearing the official songs of any branch of the military. To learn more about the U.S. military or VA home loans, contact us or visit our website at www.lowvarates.com.

VA Loan Closing Costs: How Much to Expect

There are a lot of things that factor into closing costs, and these can be extremely confusing – but don’t worry!  Here’s a quick reference to give you a basic overview of possible charges that are exempt by the VA. With VA home loans, there are regulations on how much a lender can charge on certain fees, and there are some fees that don’t ever get charged. Find out what fees to expect, and which ones to watch out for!

Closing Costs You Don’t Pay…

Because of your service in the military, there are some fees that you don’t have to pay on your VA home loan no
Closing Costs You Pay for a VA Mortgage or Refinancematter what. The VA does not allow lenders to charge fees for documentation, notary, the transaction coordinator, or for the broker. Although you do have to pay the recording fee, the VA does not allow lenders to charge more than $17 for this. Depending upon the state you live in, you won’t have to pay termite and pest inspection fees either. Only nine states require you to pay inspection fees regardless of how you’re financing your home: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.

VA Fees You Might Pay . . .

Possible costs you might pay at closing include those for escrow, title exams, insurance, survey, VA funding, and Homeowners Association. Escrow is a portion of the mortgage payment that goes towards paying property taxes and insurance costs, also called TI. The escrow expense can vary over time because it is charged based on property taxes, which also change over time.

Survey fees include the cost of a survey company inspecting and confirming property lines. This expense isn’t required in all states, so it’s important to check if your state exempts those financing their homes with VA loans from paying survey fees.

Funding fees are required by the VA whenever you are purchasing or refinancing with a VA loan. This fee is applied to all loans and refinances, and the amount charged depends on a number of factors, including what the loan will be used for and if the borrower has used a VA loan previously. You can be exempt from paying the VA funding fee if you have been disabled due to military service. Members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard pay lower VA funding fees than members of the National Guard and the National Reserves.

Your Closing Costs Total Comes To…

The list of closing costs you could possibly be charged may seem lengthy and overwhelming, but don’t worry; the Department of Veterans Affairs has placed restrictions on how much lenders can charge you for closing, and there are two ways that lenders can collect closing costs. The first is by charging an origination fee that is no more than 1 percent of the loan amount. For example, if your loan is $200,000, your origination cost can be $2,000. The 1 percent origination fee will cover all closing expenses.

Fees for Your VA Home Loan Closing CostsIf your lender chooses not to charge the 1 percent origination fee, he or she might choose to charge any combination of the costs listed above. However, if your lender chooses this option, they cannot charge you more than the 1 percent you’d be paying if they charged the origination fee. Some home sellers are willing to help cover closing costs too, and the VA does not have regulations on how many of those fees can be paid for by the seller. Ask your home seller if they are willing to negotiate covering some of the closing costs.
Here at Low VA Rates, we strive to make the loan process and closing costs easy to understand. To speak to one of our qualified loan officers, or to learn more about the services we offer, visit us online at www.lowvarates.com.

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