Wreaths Across America: Remembering Our Fallen U.S. Veterans

What Is Wreaths Across America?

Wreaths Across America is a national holiday, the mission of which is to “Remember, Honor, and Teach.” On a designated day in December, visitors of Arlington National Cemetery and more than 1,000 other cemeteries all over the country lay wreaths on the tombstones or gravesites of fallen military veterans.

We do this to show our love and gratitude for the veterans and always retain in remembrance what was sacrificed for us and our freedoms. The theme of this year’s Wreaths Across America is “Say Their Names;” the official Wreaths Across America website encourages all who participate in this year’s proceedings to speak aloud the name of the veteran they’re honoring as they lay their wreath. The name becomes an extra gesture of remembrance.

How Did Wreaths Across America Start?

Wreaths Across America was first conceived in 1992 by Morrill Worcester. As the owner of a wreath company in Harrington, Maine, Worcester was trying to decide what to do with the extra wreaths he had left over from the holiday season. It was then that he remembered visiting Arlington National Cemetery as a young boy.

With the help of several volunteers, Worcester transported the surplus wreaths to a section of Arlington and had them laid on the tombs of the fallen soldiers. It became a tradition, and years later in 2007, Worcester founded the Wreaths Across America non-profit. Now this special ceremony is carried out by individuals and families in all 50 states.

What Can I Do for Wreaths Across America?

Want to get involved in this day of remembrance? You can start by visiting the Wreaths Across America website. There are many ways you can help this great cause go forward, such as:

  • Sponsoring a wreath
  • Volunteering at an event
  • Donating to a local fundraiser (or starting one yourself)
  • Adding a new cemetery to the event map
  • Offering transportation services (such as trucking)
  • Sharing your wreath-laying experience mission on social media, using hashtags such as #WAA2016 and #SayTheirNames to help the message spread

Until this year, wreath-laying took place nationally on the second Saturday in December, but the designated day has recently been changed to be the third Saturday instead. Here is a list of future Wreaths Across America dates for your reference, so you can plan ahead and not miss a single one:

  • 2019 – December 21
  • 2020 – December 19

Honor the Fallen by Helping the Living

Many of us here at Low VA Rates have family members who have served or are currently serving in the United States military, so we look forward to participating in Wreaths Across America and speaking the names of the veterans we’ve known and loved over the years.

We invite all our followers and clients to do the same, and to help the Wreaths Across America mission grow and touch even more lives.

About Us

At Low VA Rates, we’ve dedicated a lot to helping veterans and their loved ones find affordable mortgages. For questions about getting started or to find out whether you qualify, give us a call at 866-569-8272.

VA Loan Analysis Explained: Form 26-6393

VA Loan Analysis Form 26-6393

What is the VA loan analysis? How does it work and what does it mean? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know, including explaining the VA form 26-6393 so you can meet with your loan officer educated and more confident.

The VA Loan Analysis Form 26-6393

When you begin the VA loan process, your lender or loan officer will present you with a packet of information. This packet will contain lots of documents; one of them may be the 26-6393, entitled the Loan Analysis. We say “may be” because sometimes this form won’t be included in the packet; sometimes you’ll just receive a copy of it in the mail. If you want a copy of it to fill out, you can always request one from your loan officer. But if it is included in your packet, here’s an explanation of what it is and what it’s for.

What Is the Purpose of the VA Loan Analysis Form?

Eventually, the VA Loan Analysis form will be used by the underwriters of your VA loan, An underwriter is someone who checks all the documents included in the VA loan process and makes sure the information they contain is legitimate. The loan analysis form helps underwriters determine whether you, the applicant, are qualified to receive the loan by summarizing your most important and basic financial information. It consolidates lots of information found on different reports, putting them in one location for the underwriter’s convenience and providing them with a general idea right off the bat of your financial situation. This makes the loan process faster and more efficient. Underwriters may also consult additional documents when determining your eligibility for a loan. If there’s anything on the loan analysis form that they need elaborated on or changed, they can request more information, but assuming everything has been done correctly, the underwriter may only need to work from the 26-6393.

Loan analysis forms are also submitted directly to the VA when certain applications require prior approval. The 26-6963 is a helpful and often necessary tool for them in the process of determining your VA eligibility.

What Information Does the VA Loan Analysis Form Contain?

Much of the loan analysis form is self-explanatory; you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble filling it out to the lender’s satisfaction. Some of the required fields may already be filled out if you receive the form in the mail or in your starter packet. Click here to see the form.

Sections of the VA Form 26 6393

va loan analysis how to completeThe VA form 26 6393 itself is divided into sections A, B, C, D, and E. Sections A and B will ask you for general information about yourself and the loan, such as your address, the loan amount, and what it will be used for. Both the loan applicant and the applicant’s spouse have spots to fill out on the form, if the scenario applies. For the best experience filling out the form, take on each question in the order it’s given; this will provide the subsequent questions with clearer context. For example, section B field 9 asks you to check or not check the box “Utilities Included.” This may not make sense at first, but if you refer to field 8, you’ll see that the utilities refer to your “Current Monthly Housing Expense.” Since the loan analysis form covers so much in such a small space, there may not be thorough explanations at every turn. So if you have any questions, make sure to retrace your steps, read carefully, and ask your lender for help.

Sections C, D, and E deal with the details of the loan, the nitty-gritty information that might not just come off the top of your head. This section includes lots of math and working with numbers, and some people can get easily confused. If you’re not a math person, make sure you have a calculator and maybe even some scratch paper with you while tackling this section; you don’t want to make any mistakes. In section C field 21, you’ll total your estimated monthly housing or shelter expenses. This includes any maintenance or utilities costs, as well as HOA or condo fees, if you’re required to pay any. The information in field 21 isn’t to be confused with your monthly mortgage payment; rather, this section deals with anything you pay per month that has anything to do with the place in which you live, not just your rent or mortgage. Your actual monthly mortgage will be a smaller number than the one you list here.

Section D of the loan analysis form presents a good opportunity to check for accuracy. It includes a record of your debts, compiled by someone else, so make sure to cross reference it with your own records and take care of any mistakes or discrepancies in the description of the item, the monthly payment amount, or the remaining unpaid balance. You want these numbers to be accurate; they’ll make a difference in the loan approval process, for better or worse.

Section E of the loan analysis form is all about your income and any tax deductions for which you’re eligible. It should also accurately reflect the information provided by your lender and your own personal financial records, and none of it should come as a surprise to you. Again, take the time to look over these numbers and make any changes that need making. In theory, this section of the form will be close to perfectly accurate because it’s already undergone a series of verification processes. But there’s always the chance something fell through the cracks or was misreported. Any inaccuracies, no matter how small, should be addressed.

We Shoot for Fast, Easy, and Accurate Loan Processes

We at Low VA Rates recognize the sacrifices made by veterans and the stresses they’ve endured, both during and after their military service, so we want to make the VA home loan process as painless as possible. We hope every veteran and potential borrower is properly educated, either by online resources or in person with our loan officers, so nothing gets in the way of their becoming proud homeowners. To learn more about forms like the VA loan analysis and any step of the VA loan process, as well as the myriad of VA loans available.

If you have additional questions about the VA loan analysis give us a call at 866-569-8272. We would be more than happy to answer any VA loan related questions.

 

The 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

75 years ago, on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy conducted a surprise air strike against the United States naval base Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. This attack catalyzed World War II and claimed the lives of more than 2,000 American military personnel including sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen, as well as civilians. Here’s a brief history of what transpired at Pearl Harbor and what it meant for America and for the world.

75th anniversary of pearl harbor

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

The first wave of the Pearl Harbor attacks took place at 7:48 A.M, and was composed of 183 planes split into three groups. The second wave of the attack was made of 171 planes, also split into groups. Each group of planes included bombers armed with a wide selection of torpedoes and general-purpose bombs. Some groups targeted American battleships and aircraft carriers while others targeted aircraft on Ford Island and Wheeler Field (islets within the Pearl Harbor area) as well as Hickam Field, Barber’s Point, and Kaneohe.

Damage and Casualties of Pearl Harbor

The attack lasted ninety minutes from start to finish, and left a total of 2,403 Americans dead, wounding 1,178. The Japanese planes sunk 8 American ships, five of which were the battleships USS Arizona, Nevada, California, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. U.S. cruisers were also hit and destroyed, including the Helena and the Oglala. Cassin and Downes, two naval destroyers, were also demolished.  As for American aircraft, 188 of the 402 planes on base were destroyed while 159 were badly damaged, the majority of them having never left the ground.  Military vessels were not the only ones targeted by the Japanese. Tragically, three civilian planes were also shot down by the Japanese fighters.

The Political Climate of the Time of World War II

Even before the attacks on Pearl Harbor, relations between Japan and the United States were tense. The Japanese military intended the attack to be preemptive; they thought it would prevent the United States from intervening in their conflicts with the United Kingdom and other nations in Southeast Asia. It took place before any state of war between the United States and Japan was declared; consequently, all the military personnel that were killed were non-combatants.

It’s believed that Japanese Admiral Yamamoto intended to warn the United States of peace negotiation failures before the attack took place. However, word of these failed negotiations did not reach the United States government in time for the military to adequately defend itself. By the time the news was transcribed from a transmission to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, it was too late for those at Pearl Harbor. On December 8, the day after the attack, Japan officially declared war on a reeling United States.

In addition to those in Oahu, Japan conducted similar attacks on American-held territories in the Philippines, on Wake Island, and in Guam of the Mariana Islands. These offenses took place within the days following the attacks in Hawaii, though they did not have the psychological impact on the United States as did those at Pearl Harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought Japan and the United States into a second world war, which culminated in the United States dropping two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It was a controversial and revolutionary offensive strike that destroyed millions of lives and finally forced Japan’s surrender to the United States on Saturday, September 2. September 2 is now known in America and parts of Europe as V-J Day, or Victory over Japan Day.

The United States and Japan Today

Despite their brutal history, the United States and Japan are strong allies today. The attack on Pearl Harbor is remembered and honored by veterans and non-veterans across America and holds a sacred place in American history. Some who experienced the attack first-hand are still alive today; their stories of courage and survival are inspiring and humbling to all who hear them. Though relations with Japan have thankfully made a turn for the better, we at Low VA Rates will never forget those who perished in the Oahu attacks. We thank all our World War II veterans for their selfless defense of American freedom, and we honor the lives lost 75 years ago today in Hawaii. You can show your appreciation for our nation’s veterans by reaching out and thanking them for their incredible service, particularly on this day, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

VA Foreclosures

va home foreclosures

While VA loans are usually the best fit for veterans, there are still those families who default on their mortgages. When homes purchased with a VA loan enter foreclosure, the VA can buy the property back from the lender and put the house back on the market, usually at a much lower price than before.

VA-owned properties can be residential or commercial, and are sometimes referred to as repo homes, as in “repossessed.” After a borrower defaults on his or her mortgage, the VA acquires the property and must repay the original loan amount back to the lender. To make up for this payment, the VA sells the house again, this time to anyone, not just to those with VA entitlement. You can buy one of these properties with a vendee loan or vendee financing. This is a loan specifically used to purchase these VA-owned, foreclosed homes. However, you don’t have to use a vendee loan: you can also use VA, FHA, or conventional loans to buy the foreclosed house.

What Are VA Foreclosures & Who Can Buy Them?

VA Foreclosure propertyVendee loans are available to anyone, whether they are a veteran or a non-veteran. They’re lent out through the Ocwen Financial Corporation, a nationwide network of real-estate agents. Vendee loans are a good option for those looking for a relatively cheap mortgage.

To locate available VA foreclosed homes in your area, look through your multiple listing service or contact your local real-estate agency. You can also look at the Ocwen Financial Corporation’s website, search by state on Zillow, or subscribe to sites like RealtyTrac that specifically track foreclosed homes. The federal government also lists government-owned properties for sale on websites such as HomeSales.

How Do I Make an Offer on a VA Repo Home? Once you’ve identified a foreclosed home to buy, contact your local VA-approved listing agent who currently handles the property. They will be able to show you the house and help you go through any preliminary steps, like getting it appraised or inspected. Once you’re satisfied with your pick, have your real-estate or selling agent write up the purchase contract. You’ll have to provide all documentation required by the VA. Once your application is complete, your agent can submit it through the listing broker. Listing broker information can be found on Ocwen’s website.

Benefits of a VA Foreclosed Property

VA foreclosures usually sell for half their market price, come with little-to-no closing costs, and demand very reasonable down payments, sometimes as low as 0%, so long as the property is your primary residence. If you do have closing costs, these can be financed into the life of the loan. Additionally, VA foreclosed homes come with no required insurance premiums or prepayment penalties. As per VA rules, your credit score won’t play a huge role in the approval process, and you may also qualify for a very low interest rate. If you’re a veteran applying for a vendee loan, you can even receive the house at a subsidized rate.

If the VA foreclosed home isn’t going to be your primary residence, you can still purchase it with as little as 5 percent paid down. Vendee financing also includes the VA funding fee as part of the closing costs.

Keep in mind that, when buying a foreclosed home, the VA won’t repair any damages made by the previous owners. If you want the house, you’ll have to buy it “as-is.” However, it’s highly recommended that you get the house approved and inspected before purchase and that you factor in the costs of repairs before you close.

Low Rates for Our Loyal Veterans

VA foreclosed or repossessed homes can be excellent home-buying options for veterans and non-veterans alike. They’re cheap, backed by the VA, and come with little hassle for those who qualify. If you’re interested in purchasing a VA foreclosed home, or if you want to know more about VA loans in general, give us a call at 866-569-8272. Our loan officers will be happy to answer your questions and take you through your options as you start the path to home ownership. For more information, visit our website.

What Is the VA IRRRL?

VA IRRRL Loans

So what is the VA IRRRL? You may have once heard someone refer to a “VA Earl” and wondered what, or who, they were talking about. Well, what they were actually saying was “VA IRRRL.” IRRRL is an acronym that stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. The VA IRRRL is also known as the VA streamline refinance, or the VA-to-VA loan. It’s a quick and easy VA refinance option that is very popular among veteran and military homeowners and is our specialty here at Low VA Rates.

What is the VA IRRRL?

The VA IRRRL program is a VA refinance option  designed to save homeowners money, period. When lenders take customers through the IRRRL, they are required to lower the borrower’s interest rate. Through the IRRRL, borrowers can change the term or monthly payment of their loan. If rates are favorable, borrowers can also use the IRRRL to transition from an ARM to a fixed rate, and vice versa. IRRRLs come together quickly, even in as little as 10 days; you don’t need to re-appraise the home, and the Certificate of Eligibility you received from your lender when you got your first VA loan will suffice as your proof of eligibility for the IRRRL, which significantly reduces the amount of paperwork. Like regular VA home loans, the IRRRL also requires no down payments.

IRRRL Facts for Veterans

The following are some of the VA IRRRL facts for veterans. When you apply for an IRRRL, no credit underwriting package or appraisals are required. You already went through a thorough underwriting process when you got your original VA loan; why do it all again? Borrowers can also close on their IRRRL with very little money out of pocket. This is achieved by rolling all closing costs into the principle balance of the loan. The loan can also be structured to make the lender responsible for closing costs. Best of all, the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan is bound to get you a lower interest rate. It’s right there in the loan’s name.

When May a Borrower Take Out an IRRRL?

We at Low VA Rates are proud to have no seasoning requirements attached to our loans. This means you are eligible for refinancing one day after your loan closes. You don’t have to have been in your mortgage for a long time to qualify for refinancing. If there’s a lower interest rate available, it’s our job to get you there. Naturally, you can only use the IRRRL to refinance your existing VA loan. Additionally, only VA loans can be refinanced using the IRRRL. This is why the IRRRL is sometimes referred to as the VA-to-VA loan. VA loans are also assumable, so you as a buyer can inherit a seller’s eligibility.

Another requirement concerning the VA IRRRL is this: if you have a second mortgage, you’ll have to subordinate that lien to the VA loan that is being streamline refinanced. While VA loans can only be used on primary residences, you can streamline refinance properties that you no longer live in, such as investment properties. All you need to do is prove you once lived there.

Some VA lenders will require you to be current on your mortgage before your refinance. At Low VA Rates, we allow for one payment to be no more than thirty days delinquent.  However, you must explain the delinquency to your loan officer, and together, you and your loan officer can formulate a plan to get you current again. We understand that maintaining a mortgage can be difficult, and life is full of the unexpected. If you’re having trouble getting refinanced, talk to our loan officers and we’ll see what we can do to get your mortgage refinance-ready.

Very Low VA Rates

We’ve refinanced countless veteran homes using the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan here at Low VA Rates. We know the process backwards and forwards, and we promote the loan because we know it works. We’ve helped tons of families save money on their mortgage through the IRRRL. Above all, we strive to provide our clients with the VA interest rates as low as possible. ($250 is yours if we cannot)

 

 

 

Stated Income Loans for Self-Employed Veterans

shutterstock_285230642Stated income loans are mainly loans for those who are self employed. In the past some lenders didn’t require work history, tax returns, and documentation of income to be approved. These loans were Nicknamed “liar loans”, they were one of the major causes of the housing collapse in 2006/2008. The Dodd-Frank Act was passed a few years later to make sure all creditors verified income on home loan applications, but different versions of stated income loans are slowly re-emerging. Or rather, they’re no longer handed out willy-nilly to anyone, like they were before the market crash. Nowadays, stated income loans are going primarily to those who have trouble securing conventional financing because of the nature of their work, such as small business owners, investors, and those who are self-employed. In these cases, stated income loans can be a viable option if the individuals have the assets necessary to pay them.

 

What Are Stated Income Loans?

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2010. It requires all mortgage lenders and creditors to verify a borrower’s income and assets on a loan shutterstock_414743053application. Right now, nearly 9 million people in America are self-employed. To qualify for a loan, these individuals usually need to provide lenders with two years of tax returns, which unfortunately, don’t always paint an accurate picture of their financial status or their “take-home” pay. This is because the tax returns for small business owners show income but only after business expenses have been paid. To the lender, it may look as though the owner doesn’t make enough money to pay back a loan, and the application could be denied as a result.

To remedy this, stated income loans have made a small comeback in the mortgage industry. They’re offered by a small number of lenders in the United States, and not by big banks. Instead of using pay stubs or tax returns to verify income, stated income loans ask for a demonstrated ability to repay. One’s ability to repay a loan can be shown through bank statements or proof of assets, normally enough to cover 6 to 12 months of payments.

After proving their ability to repay, small business owners, freelance workers, or investors renting property in the hopes of growing its equity can state their unconventional incomes and be approved for a loan. Landlords may also use stated income loans when managing their many properties. Hopefully, anyone receiving a stated income loan today has shown the lender their ability to repay it, either through brokerage/bank statements or by documentation of assets.

 

Stated Income Loan Requirements

Stated income loans carry large amounts of risk, so they come with very high down payments and interest rates. They come together in a few days and normally carry fixed rates for the first three years after which borrowers can refinance penalty-free. Some lenders may only approve stated income loans to borrowers who have a credit score of 720 or higher, or who can make a 20 percent down payment. Some lenders even require the borrower to put as much as 30 or even 50 percent down. The more money a borrower can pay down at closing, the less likely they are to default later on, at least in the lender’s eyes. So, it seems a fair trade for not having to verify one’s income. In addition to large down payments, interest rates can be 25 to 50 percent higher on stated income loans than they are on loans with proper income verification.

 

Helping Veterans Succeed

At Low VA Rates, we understand that building a business from the ground up or being your own boss is hard work, yet extremely rewarding. We’re proud to work every day with some of the most dedicated, productive veterans in the country, and we want to help you and your families in any way we can. If you are self employed and would like more information on stated income loans give us a call at 866-569-8272. Our loan officers are ready and available to provide financial counsel. Let us help you plot a course to home ownership that will be the most beneficial and cost effective for your situation.

 

 

VA Loan Requirements for First-Time Veteran Home-Buyers

VA Loan Requirements

In order to be approved for a VA loan, you first must satisfy some application and eligibility requirements. These VA loan requirements protect veteran benefits from being falsely given to those who have never served or those who haven’t served sufficient time. For those of you who are applying for your very first VA loan, here is an in-depth look at what the application process will look like and what kinds of questions you’ll be asked to confirm your eligibility for VA entitlement.

 

What are the VA Loan Requirements?

On the VA home loan application, you’ll have to provide your personal information as well as information about your property, credit, income, and military service. Here’s what each of these sections entail:

Personal Information

Personal information includes your name, address, phone number, birth date, and social security number. You’ll also be asked to list your race or ethnicity (although you are not required to list this), and you’ll need to provide the loan officer with valid identification like your driver’s license. This is also the section in which you’ll list your dependents if you have any.

Property

You’ll have to provide your loan officer with a purchase contract that both you and the house seller have signed. You’ll also need to get the house inspected and appraised and provide your homeowners insurance information (if applicable).

Credit History

VA loans require no minimum credit score for approval. However, the better your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. Your credit history will be examined by the lender and your insurance company. This report includes your payment history, records of bankruptcy or foreclosure, hard inquiries, judgments, liens, lines of credit, and whether or not you pay alimony or child care. Normally, VA loan lenders want you to have two lines of credit that have been open and active for at least two years.

Delinquent payments will hurt your credit history and your chances of being approved for a VA loan. The VA loan application will forgive one payment less than a year old and less than thirty days late, but it’s still a good idea to get current on your mortgage before applying, if you can. The VA will also require you to pay any collection fees on your credit report. You must also be current on all payments of federal debt, such as student loans. If you have a foreclosure on your record, you’re still eligible for a VA loan so long as you didn’t lose any security.

Military Information

If you’re separated from the military, your VA loan application will include a copy of your DD214. You and your loan officer will also complete a request for a Certificate of Eligibility, which we’ll touch on later. If you’re still on active duty, your commanding officer will need to provide you with a statement of service. Active duty applications also need to provide the lender with a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). If you’re due to become separated from the military in less than 12 months from your closing date, you need to provide documentation of income after that point. You can do this by providing a statement saying you plan to re-enlist or proof of civilian employment.

Income, Assets, and Employment

VA loan applications also ask for two years of employment history, including work addresses, employer phone numbers, and dates of employment. Next, you must provide proof of income, which you can do through W-2 forms, bank statements, or 30 days of paystubs. If you’re self-employed, you can provide proof of income through your tax returns. If you are the recipient of any retirement awards, social security, or pensions, you should list this as income as well, and you’ll need to provide 60 days of statements for proof. If you’re employed part-time, you can list the money earned as income so long as you’ve been earning it for two years or more.

Certificate of Eligibility

In the beginning of the loan application process, your loan officer will file a request for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Hang onto your copy of this certificate, as it will suffice for proof of VA entitlement in the future, if you wish to refinance, take out a second mortgage, or assume a VA mortgage.

Proof of Service Requirements

US Army ServedSince you’re applying for a VA loan, you’ll have to prove you’re a veteran, and you’ll have to have served for a specific amount of time to be eligible for VA entitlement.

If you were discharged from the military, provide your lender with your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Normally, this document will have the information the lender needs. You can also show your lender your DD Form 214 if you were discharged/separated after January 1, 1950. If you served before then, just make sure your record of service shows the length of time for which you served and the character of your service.

If you’re applying while on active duty or while currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves, have your commanding officer send a statement of service to your lender. These statements of service must include the commanding officer’s name, your full name, your social security number, your entry date on active duty, and record of any lost time.

If you were recently discharged from the Army or Air National Guard, an NGB Form 22 will suffice for proof of service in addition to Reports of Separation, Records of Service, or your latest retirement points summary.

 

Basic VA Loan Eligibility Requirements

Generally speaking, to be eligible for VA home loan benefits, a veteran must have served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard at any point after September 15, 1940. You must also have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, and your discharge must have come after 90 days or more of service during wartime or 181 days or more during peacetime. 2 years of service (24 months) are required from veterans who began serving on or after September 7, 1980 or October 16, 1981 for officers.

The VA provides charts like this one to help you determine whether or not you served in wartime or peacetime:

 

Wartime

Peacetime
World War II: 9/16/1940 – 7/25/1947 Post-World War II: 7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950
Korean conflict: 6/27/1950 – 1/31/1955 Post-Korean conflict: 2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964
Vietnam era: 8/5/64 – 5/7/1975 Post-Vietnam: 5/8/1975 – 8/1/1990
Persian Gulf War: 8/2/1990 – date to be determined

 

If you’re currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves, you’ll need to have done so for a period of six years and been honorably discharged, be retired, or have been transferred to the Standby Reserve or Ready Reserve.

 

Spouses of Veterans and Other Qualifying Persons

Spouses of veterans may also qualify for VA entitlement. Here are the guidelines for spousal eligibility:

  • Surviving spouses of veterans who were killed in action or whose death was the result of a service-related disability
  • Surviving spouses of active duty veterans who remarry after the age of 57 and after December 16, 2003
  • The spouse of a serviceman or woman who is listed MIA or as a POW (for at least 90 days) (This eligibility can only be used once.)

Other individuals who may be approved for a VA loan include:

  • Members of the Public Health Service
  • Service academy cadets
  • Merchant seaman, if certain qualifications are met

If you’re unsure about your eligibility for VA entitlement, you can contact your nearest regional loan center or visit the VA’s website.

 

Low Rates for Veterans

We at Low VA Rates are committed to helping qualified veterans take out home loans at very low rates. If you have questions about VA home loan requirements or want to get started on the home loan process, apply here or call us at 866-569-8272.

 

 

What is the VA IRRRL Program and How Can It Save You Money

va interest rate reduction program

In this article, we will take a closer look at the VA IRRRL program and how it is designed to save veterans money. Lets first take a look at VA loan benefits in general. VA loans were conceived to give veterans a way to buy a home with no money down as a way to say thank you for their service. They have flexible requirements and don’t require veterans to purchase private mortgage insurance. A good percentage of a given VA loan is guaranteed by the government, so the loans are safe and come with competitive interest rates.

As a veteran homeowner, you may have heard about VA refinancing, specifically, the VA IRRRL program. IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. The VA IRRRL program, also known as the VA streamline refinance or VA-to-VA loan, is one of our favorite loans here at Low VA Rates and one of the most popular VA refinance options among veterans. It’s the quickest, simplest way for those who qualify to get a lower interest rate on their mortgage. A VA refinance is especially advantageous now with interest rates on the decline industry-wide.

What Is the VA IRRRL Program & Why Was if Created?

The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan program was designed with one goal in mind: to provide veterans with actual, tangible benefits, specifically, to lower their interest rate. Some loans are structured to put more money in the loan originator’s pocket, but not the IRRRL program. The VA IRRRL is fast, easy, and effective, requiring no down payments and little-to-no underwriting, depending on your lender. That means you won’t have to re-obtain a Certificate of Eligibility or provide proof of income a second time. According to the VA, you will not even need to have your home re-appraised.

Loan-to-value ratio requirements and employment verification are also eliminated in this slimmed-down streamline process. In short, all the paperwork you did before for your original VA loan will count for your IRRRL. And we at Low VA Rates never set any minimum credit score requirements, so you won’t have to worry about your credit score preventing you from being approved for refinancing. Additionally, closing costs can be rolled into the principle loan amount, so next to nothing is paid out-of-pocket at closing. This may, however, increase your interest rate, so it’s up to you and your loan officer to decide which course of action is more cost effective in the long run.

Through the IRRRL program, borrowers can refinance from fixed rates to adjustable rates or vice versa. The VA IRRRL Program is designed to lower your interest rate, however, when switching from an ARM to a fixed rate, rates may go up due to the nature of the fixed loan. You may also be able to change the term of your loan, such as switching from a thirty-year loan to a fifteen-year loan. Cutting your term in half will effectively double your monthly payment, but it will allow you to pay off your loan faster and pay less into interest over time. So talk with your loan officer to make sure it’s your best course of action.

As far as size goes, streamline refinance loans are limited to the balance of the original loan, and they can take up to a month to complete or as little as 10 days.

Finally, no cash back is permitted in the VA IRRRL program. Veterans may opt for cash-out refinancing to get some extra money for remodeling or improving their home.  Even though this isn’t an option for streamliners, the VA IRRRL program does allow for a $6,000 energy efficiency fund given through the EEM. This money can go towards anything that increases your home’s energy conservation, such as the installation of solar panels.

IRRRL Program Pros and Cons & Requirements

We often get the question of what the IRRRL program pros and cons are, but honestly, there are not many cons. The IRRRL is designed to help veterans save money. So, when exactly can you do the streamline refinance? At Low VA Rates, we have no seasoning requirements, meaning you can refinance as early as one day after closing on your loan. Of course, there are other requirements concerning when and how you can refinance using the VA IRRRL program. For example, you must use your IRRRL to pay for your existing VA loan. Remember, only VA loans can be refinanced using the IRRRL. Streamline refinancing reuses your VA eligibility; that’s why it’s sometimes called a VA-to-VA loan. Also, VA loans are assumable, so eligibility can pass from seller to buyer. If there is ever any question about your VA entitlement, simply ask for your Certificate of Eligibility.

Another requirement of the VA IRRRL program is that if you have a second mortgage, it must be subordinated to the VA loan. You can also use your IRRRL for an investment property that isn’t your primary residence, so long as you verify that you used to live there. This is different from occupancy requirements for ordinary VA loans. For those, you must verify that you plan to occupy the home. But with the IRRRL program, you can refinance a house you no longer occupy.

Making Payments

It’s best to be current on your mortgage before you take out an IRRRL, but if you aren’t, it’s not the end of the world—you have a 30-day grace period for delinquent payments. However, you must explain to your loan officer and to the VA why your payments are late and what your plan is for getting current again.

Something borrowers may not know is that refinancing will pause your mortgage payments temporarily. This is sort of an accidental benefit, but it might help you find the money you need to become current. If you don’t want your payments to be deferred during refinancing, simply talk to your loan officer to work out a different schedule.

Who Is Eligible for the VA IRRRL Program?

To be eligible for the VA IRRRL program, you’ll need to have served more than 90 days on active duty during wartime. During peacetime, the required number of days on active duty rises to 181. If you served in the National Guard or the Reserves, you’ll need to have done so for a period of at least six years. Spouses of veterans who died in combat or whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disability may also be eligible to take out an IRRRL. Additionally, divorced and\or remarried veterans may qualify for the VA IRRRL program.

 

VA Loan Benefits Facts and Information for Military Spouse Benefits

va-loan-benefits

The VA partially guarantees VA loans, and they are designed to be simple and flexible for veteran and military families. Many veterans who would otherwise be unable to finance a home are given the opportunity thanks to VA entitlement. So just what are the benefits of VA loans and who can take advantage of them?

What are the Benefits of a VA Loan

  • Down payments can be colossal, from $7,500 all the way to $90,000, depending on the loan amount and the percentage down. But VA purchase loans require no down payment.
  • Because VA loans are backed by the federal government, no private mortgage insurance is required. This could save you a few hundred dollars every month.va loan no money down
  • The government guarantee on VA loans also helps decrease risk for banks and lenders, so interest rates for VA loans are generally lower than they are for conventional loans.
  • The VA will allow lenders to count your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) as income, so you can use it to help pay your mortgage.
  • Conventional loans that are paid off or refinanced early are usually hit with a pre-payment penalty if the loan hasn’t fully matured. But VA loans accrue no prepayment penalties, so you can refinance or prepay your mortgage anytime you like.
  • While other VA lenders may have minimum credit score requirements, at Low VA Rates, we follow the VA handbook, meaning we disqualify no one from taking out a VA loan based on credit score alone.
  • The VA Streamline Refinance, a.k.a. the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), allows borrowers to refinance to a lower interest rate without having to re-apply or re-qualify for the VA loan program.
  • Closing costs, such as the VA funding fee, can be financed into the loan itself or waived if the borrower has a service-related disability. Additionally, the VA has put limits on how much you can be charged in closing costs.

 

Who Is Eligible for VA Loan Benefits?

Military veterans with sufficient income, acceptable credit histories, and a Certificate of Eligibility qualify for VA benefits. As a veteran, you must also have been discharged from service under circumstances other than dishonorable. But what do we mean when we say “veteran”? The VA’s website will tell you specifically how many days you’ll need to have served to be eligible for VA benefits. For example, veterans of the Vietnam War must have served in active duty for a total of 90 days.

You may also qualify to receive VA benefits if you are:

  • an officer of Public Health Services or of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration
  • a cadet at the Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard academies
  • a midshipman of the Naval Academy
  • a merchant seaman who served during World War II.

 

Military Spouse Benefits

What benefits do military spouses get?  Spouses of veterans are also entitled to certain VA benefits. Some of these include:

  • The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is a monthly payment made to surviving spouses of deceased veterans or service members. On average, the DIC is approximately $1,200 with a $300 allowance, but it can be increased if the deceased left behind dependents (including parents) or if the surviving spouse needs further help.
  • Spouses and dependents will receive a Survivor’s Pension if they meet certain income and net worth requirements.
  • Educational costs are also mitigated by the VA for surviving spouses and dependents. Various VA programs like VA Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance will help cover the cost of books, tuition, or housing for university attendance or the pursuit of other degrees. Job training, career counseling, and even apprenticeships are also available through these programs.
  • Surviving spouses can also enroll in benefits coaching. This helps them understand what is available to them and how they can take advantage of everything to which they’re entitled.
  • Several VA healthcare programs, such as the Civilian Health and Medical, Caregivers, the Foreign Medical, or the Children of Women Vietnam Veterans, offer affordable healthcare to spouses and children of veterans.
  • Surviving spouses can apply for VA Purchase, Cash-Out, or Streamline Refinance loans.
  • VA life insurance policies come with death benefits that are tax-free and can be used however the spouse wishes. In addition, the free VA Beneficiary Financial Counseling Services is available to surviving spouses enrolled in TSGLI, VGLI, FSGLI, or SGLI spousal coverage.
  • Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit that helps those spouses or dependents needing in-home care or who live in nursing facilities.

 

For more information on Military spousal benefits, visit this link.

 

Who Is Eligible for VA Spousal Benefits?

Surviving spouses can apply for a VA home loan if:

  • Their spouse died while serving or due to health problems resulting from a service-related disability
  • Their spouse is a POW or is MIA
  • Their spouse was totally disabled

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is available to survivors if:

  • The veteran died while in active duty or inactive duty training
  • The veteran died due to a service-related injury
  • The veteran was entitled to receive VA compensation for service-related disabilities

Survivor’s Pension is awarded to spouses if the veteran:

  • Served at least 90 days in active duty if service was before September 7, 1980
  • Served at least 24 months in active duty if service was after September 7, 1980 (for both options, one of these days must have been during wartime)

 

To qualify for the Survivor’s Pension, the family’s yearly income must also be less than the amount specified by Congress. For more information, visit this link. For complete DIC eligibility requirements, visit this link.

 

Taking Care of Military Families

Our business at Low VA Rates is being mindful of military families, especially surviving spouses or dependents. We know the sacrifice you make and want to help all military families rebuild their lives after tragedy strikes. Give us a call at 866-569-8272, and we’ll take the time to educate you on all your VA loan benefits.

National Day of the Deployed: Recognizing Military Deployment

National Day of the Deployed - Recognising Military Deployment

Looking for a way to honor those currently deployed? Today, you can join millions of Americans in observing the national Day of the Deployed. This holiday was founded by Soldiers’ Angels, an online organization that provides care packages, letters, and other donations to veterans and active members of the United States military.

Day of the Deployed was first conceived in 2006. John Hoeven, who was the governor of North Dakota at the time, became aware of the efforts of Soldiers’ Angels and started a campaign to annually recognize the holiday. It was the first time a governor in the United States gave a formal proclamation recognizing deployed troops.

By 2010, all but ten states had adopted Day of the Deployed, and just a year later in 2011, the US Senate unanimously declared it a national holiday to be observed every 26th of October.

So, why October 26th? The date was picked to honor LTC David Hosna, cousin of Shelle Michaels Aberle, who first approached Governor Hoeven about the holiday. LTC Hosna was born on October 26th, and had been serving in Iraq at the time.

In Grand Forks, North Dakota, the first ever Day of the Deployed events were held. Among those honored were units NDARNG 1-188th SECFOR and JLENS, both of which were serving in Afghanistan.

What Can You Do?

To participate in America’s annual Day of the Deployed, you can post messages or shout-outs on social media using the hashtag #DayOfTheDeployed. This will help more Americans become aware of this great holiday and feel encouraged to participate, even if it’s through a small post. Your posts can be messages of love and support to your own loved ones or to deployed troops and their families in general.

You could also take the time to write a letter or send a care package to anyone you know currently serving in the military. We at Low VA Rates want to take this opportunity to thank all those deployed for their selfless service and wish everyone serving stateside or overseas a safe return home.

Low VA Rates

We’re a VA-approved mortgage lender that connects veterans to their VA home loan benefits. We believe that every veteran should be able to access the benefits they’ve earned, including those for one of the most American ideas there are: homeownership. Contact us to see if you’re eligible for a loan or ask our loan experts any questions may you have.

What is Homeowners Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

shutterstock_108889664So what is homeowners insurance and why do you need it? Picking out the right house or condo and getting approved for a loan isn’t all there is to becoming a homeowner. You also need to invest in homeowners insurance. You’ve put so much effort into getting the home—now insurance is what will help you keep it in good condition. Not only is homeowners insurance a good idea, but some form of it is also required by most mortgage lenders. There are lots of different kinds of homeowners insurance, so we’ll give you a brief overview of them all.

 

Is Homeowners Insurance Required?

Homeowners insurance is not required by law like auto insurance. But mortgage lenders normally require some kind of bare-bones coverage just to make sure the structure of the home is protected. Similarly, if your home is located on a fault line, or land prone to flooding, your lender may require you to purchase flood or earthquake insurance. Once your mortgage is paid off, you can ditch your homeowners insurance if you really want to. But anyone who has spent up to thirty years paying off their home will still want to make sure it’s protected. Who knows what could happen?

 

How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?

The amount of homeowners insurance you need depends on how many assets you want to protect. Policies required by your lender may only cover the structure of your house, so you’ll need to purchase additional policies if you want to cover your furniture, clothes, or appliances. In case of an accident, it’s also a good idea to be insured for the amount it will cost to live somewhere else temporarily while your home is being repaired.

Other factors to take into account are the cost of construction in your area, custom additions like an extra bathroom, and the type, style, size, or age of the home. All of these will influence how much insurance you need to purchase to feel secure and fully protected.

 

What Do Different Types of Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners usually choose between these three insurance policies:

 

  • Homeowners 1 (HO-1) protects your home from 11 basic perils: fire, wind, hail, smoke, lightning, explosions, collapse, collision, vandalism, volcanic activity, and civil commotion or rioting.
  • Homeowners 2 (HO-2) protects your home from the first 11 perils as well as burglary, ice and snow, artificial electricity, falling objects, water damage, and frozen plumbing.
  • Homeowners 3 (HO-3) protects your home from all previously listed perils except: flood damage, earthquake damage, power failure, damage from war, nuclear hazards, ordinance of law, and neglect.

 

Dwelling Insurance

Dwelling insurance is usually the kind of insurance required by mortgage lenders. It protects the physical structure of the home as well as any attached structures, like sheds, but not the contents inside. Landlords may require their tenants to purchase this type of insurance, since their asset is the building itself, not your belongings. Dwelling insurance usually covers fire, smoke, rot, hail, sinkhole, wind, and lightning damage.

 

Property Insurance

To protect individual items inside your home, you can purchase some form of property insurance. One example of this is a floater policy. A floater policy protects a moveable object of value, like jewelry, artwork, or antiques. These policies don’t require a deductible. You may also want to compile a home inventory: this is a list of all the valuable things in your home and what they’re worth. This can be useful information for insurance agents trying to figure out how much to reimburse you in the instance of theft or damage. Home inventories and floater policies can affect your insurance premiums overall, but depending on what you’re protecting, security will be worth the higher cost.

 

Earthquake and Flood Insurance

Earthquake and flood damage are not usually covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. Instead, you may need to purchase this protection separately. Typically, earthquake and flood policies are paid for at closing. Talk to your insurance agent to decide the most cost-efficient way to protect your home from flood or earthquake damage.

 

Liability Insurance

If a visitor is injured in your house or on your property, you as the homeowner are liable, meaning you’ll probably have to pay the medical bills. This is where liability insurance comes in. Liability insurance helps mitigate the cost of hospital treatment and your defense in the case of a lawsuit.

 

How Much Does Homeowners Insurance Cost?

A lot of things can influence your homeowners insurance premium, such as your home’s material, structure, or age. Your home’s location or the climate of the area can also affect your premium. If you live downstream of a large river, you’re probably going to be pay more in flood insurance. Your credit score can also make a difference: if you have a sub-prime credit score, your insurance policies may have higher rates.

what is home insurance

Insurance premiums also come with a liability limit. This limit usually extends to $100,000, but you can purchase a higher limit if you feel it necessary. A recommended liability limit falls between $300,000 and $500,000, but this depends on how much your home is worth.

 

A Safe and Secure Future

We at Low VA Rates see firsthand the sacrifices you make and the work you put into achieving home ownership. We want to see your efforts protected from any possible disaster or inconvenience. That’s why we recommend you get a homeowners insurance policy suited to your home and financial goals. For more information on the VA loan process give us a call at 866-569-8272.

 

The Honor Guard: Honor, Dignity, and Tradition

The Honor Guard

An honor guard is a ceremonial unit usually of a military branch (police and fire departments also have honor guards). Each branch of the U.S. military has an official designated honor guard based in Washington D.C., and every major military installation has its own honor guard on hand. State national guards may also have an honor guardsman in their local areas. Honor guards normally carry out military funeral honors, participate in parades and other military ceremonies, and guard national monuments.

 

Honor Guard Training Programs

The New York Army National Guard has developed a 2-week honor guard teacher training program at their Camp Smith Training Site. The program is intended to help soldiers train each other in proper military funeral protocol, and continue the proud traditions of the honor guard in New York. Similar programs exist throughout the country, such as the Original 5-day Honor Guard school for policemen and fire fighters.

 

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard,” is part of the United States Army and has served in active duty since 1784. In addition to being the Army’s official honor guard, it has also been the official escort to the president of the United States since World War II. Members of this unit participate in military ceremonies conducted all throughout Washington D.C., including those at national memorials, the Pentagon, and the White House.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry regiment contains seven specialized platoons, namely:

  • The U.S. Army Continental Color Guard
  • Presidential Salute Battery
  • The Tomb
  • The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps
  • Pershing’s Own
  • The U.S. Caisson Platoon
  • The U.S. Army Drill Team

 

The Tomb Guard

The Old Guard is responsible for guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. This vigil has been kept since 1926, 24-hours a day, every day of the year, rain or shine. From October to March, guards serve one-hour shifts, while from April to September, the shifts are shortened to thirty minutes. Each shift begins and ends with a ceremony known as the Changing of the Guard.

Members of the Old Guard who aspire to guard the Tomb are hand-selected by their superiors after rigorous training. Tomb guards must be in prime physical condition and demonstrate exceptional physical and mental discipline. Many who volunteer for this honor are unable to complete their training, which is an indication of how difficult the training is since they are among the most elite guardsman in the United States.

The initial training period for guardsmen lasts 2 weeks. During this time, trainees are properly educated about Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns; they’re taught how to prepare their uniforms and how to perform basic sequences of the Changing of the Guard. Trainees are tested on all of this information at the end of two weeks. Those who pass go on to become reliefs-in-training.

 

The Changing of the Guard

Three squads make up the Tomb platoon: the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Reliefs, usually organized by height so the Changing of the Guard appears as uniform as possible. The visual aesthetic of the changing ritual is important, so a Tomb guard must possess the right bearing and appearance for the job in addition to the right skill set. For example, walking is to be no faster or slower than 90 steps per minute.

The Changing of the Guard is carried out by a relief commander, the retiring sentinel, and the relieving sentinel. It includes an inspection of the sentinel’s M-14 rifle by the relief commander. This inspection is thorough but efficient and carefully choreographed. All three participants salute the Tomb and effectively all unidentified or missing servicemen who have died defending the United States.

The Changing of the Guard also includes marches of 21 steps and waiting periods of 21 seconds, symbolizing the 21-gun salute, which is the highest military honor that can be given to a service member.

Our Salute to Those Who Serve

Low VA Rates is proud to work for the veterans and military service members of the United States. We honor the legacy of all those who have fallen in the defense of freedom, and we renew daily our commitment to better the lives of former troops and families left behind. Join us on Fridays as we wear red to “Remember Everyone Deployed,” and visit our website to learn more about what we do each day to support our veterans.

History of Columbus Day: Should We Celebrate Columbus?

Should We Celebrate Columbus Day?

Columbus Day 2016Columbus Day commemorates the arrival of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus to the American continents in 1492. The United States, Spain, Italy, and various countries in Latin America observe Columbus Day in some form, as the histories of these nations are significantly tied to Columbus’s expedition.

But what Columbus did in the Americas has been riddled with controversy for centuries. His arrival marked the beginning of widespread theft, bloodshed, and exploitation of Native American lands and peoples.

So, is Columbus Day a celebration of our nation, or an insult to every Native American’s ancestry? Maybe there’s a way we can remember the awful chain of events Columbus set in motion while also celebrating the formation of the United States. Maybe, on Columbus Day, we can reflect on both the good and painful that came of America’s discovery by Europeans.

When Is Columbus Day?

Although Columbus’s arrival in the Americas was celebrated by colonists in America since the day it happened, Columbus Day as an official holiday was first proposed by an Italian immigrant named Angelo Noce, a resident of Denver, Colorado, in the early 1900s.

In 1905, the governor of Denver declared Columbus Day a state holiday of Colorado. Later, in April 1934, President Roosevelt and the United States Congress proclaimed Columbus Day a federal holiday. On October 12, 1970, it was decided that the second Monday of October would mark the celebration of Columbus Day throughout the country.

The Observance (or Non-Observance) of Columbus Day

Observance or non-observance of Columbus Day varies throughout the United States. In San Francisco, a Columbus Day Parade is carried out by the Italian-American community. There are also large celebrations in New York. The United States Navy celebrates Columbus Day in addition to its birthday, since the two holidays are just days apart.

Some states refer to Columbus Day as a “Day of Recognition” or a “Day of Observance,” though they still celebrate it as a state holiday. Columbus Day is also observed in American territories in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Other states like Iowa and Nevada make official mentioning of Columbus Day, but the state functions as it would on any other day. Likewise, California and Texas do not recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday, but still commemorate it verbally.

Four states don’t observe Columbus Day at all: South Dakota, Hawaii, Oregon, and Alaska. Hawaii uses the second Monday of October to celebrate “Discoverers’ Day,” commemorating the Polynesian explorers who settled Hawaii. However, neither Columbus Day nor Discoverers’ Day are viewed as legal holidays by the Hawaiian state government. Similarly, South Dakota elects to celebrate the second Monday of October as “Native American Day” rather than Columbus Day.

In 1992, Berkeley, California, renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. Since then, other towns and localities in Minnesota, California, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Montana have followed suit.

Alternatives to Columbus Day

Columbus Day has been a controversial holiday long before it became federally recognized. Today, many argue that recognition of the arrival of Christopher Columbus and other Europeans in America is incomplete without acknowledging the mass killing and exploitation of Native Americans that followed. Many think the second Monday of October ought to be spent remembering these atrocities and seeking to improve relations with Native Americans and other marginalized peoples today.History of Columbus Day

This is not to say that the forming of the United States cannot be celebrated. Many Americans are able to observe Columbus Day and express their patriotism without disregarding the price that was paid by the indigenous people to create America. It is possible to recognize both sides of the story as we seek to honor our traditions but also make amends for past mistakes.

If the concept of Columbus Day sits like spoiled food in your stomach, consider these other proposed holidays that can complement, or even replace, Columbus Day observance in America:

  • “Indigenous People’s Day,” also known as “Native American Day” or “First Peoples’ Day,” is an increasingly popular option in many parts of the United States. As we express gratitude for our nation, we can also remember the generosity of Native Americans who helped our first fathers survive. We can also recognize the rich Native American traditions that persist today and beautify our country with wonderful diversity.
  • “Immigrants’ Day,” which recognizes populations from Europe, Asia, South America, etc. who immigrated to the United States and have been mistreated due to their religion or race. Columbus Day presents an excellent opportunity to remember that all non-native Americans have ancestry outside the United States. Immigrants’ Day reaffirms the sentiment inscribed on the Statue of Liberty that America was established to be a refuge for all people seeking freedom.
  • “American Atonement Day,” in which Americans can welcome in the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas by reflecting on the darker moments of our history as well as our successes. Reflection can help us reevaluate our present world, allowing us to see what can be done to try to make restitution and shape America into a greater country than ever before.

Liberty and Justice for All

We at Low VA Rates love the United States of America and hope to observe this coming Columbus Day with remembrance for the history of our country, including both the painful and the wonderful. We are thankful for the opportunity to learn from the past in order to create a better future. We express our support to all people of this country, particularly those in the military, who put their lives on the line to make it a better place for future generations.

What are your thoughts? Let us know how you plan to celebrate Columbus Day in the comments below.

About Low VA Rates

Low VA Rates helps veterans claim their VA home loan benefit. We’ve been serving the brave men and women of the military for over 10 years, in the hopes that every veteran learns about and takes advantage of their mortgage benefits. To learn more about what we can do for you, visit our website.

 

Military Funeral Honors and Traditions

Military Funeral Honors are centered in tradition and dignity. They are rich with symbolism and available for all veterans and military personnel who served their country honorably.

Who Is Eligible for Military Funeral Honors?

Servicemembers who died while in active duty or the reserves are eligible for military funeral honors, as are any veterans who were discharged under any condition except dishonorable.

Veterans can have served in active duty or one term of enlistment in the reserves. Also eligible for funeral honors are members of the National Guard, Public Health Service (PHS), and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Military Funeral Honors Dignified Transfer

When servicemembers die in action, their bodies are laid in an aluminum case, which is embossed with an American flag and the seal of the Department of Defense. The case is then draped in a flag and the body is transferred to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. It is then taken in a solemn parade by way of hearse to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center in Dover.

Normally, the carry guard and family members will follow behind the hearse on foot. At the AFMAO, the body is dressed in full uniform and given all necessary burial preparations.

Rendering of Honors

At each transfer point through which the remains must pass, military personnel are stationed to render honors such as standing at attention and giving salutes. Military escorts are specially trained to render such honors.

As is tradition, the body of the fallen service member will only ever travel feet-first. Honor guards are also assigned to honor the remains of every service member who died in active duty. These honor guards are small, comprised of a minimum of two military personnel.

The military escort is relieved of duty when the service member’s body reaches the designated funeral home. The escort is not required to attend the funeral, though they can if they wish.

Personal Effects

Items found in the fallen servicemember’s foot locker are cleaned, photographed, and cataloged. After that, they’re either shipped to the servicemember’s family, or, if the effects were on the servicemember’s person at their time of death, they are handed over to the military escort. The military escort can then present these items in person to the fallen servicemember’s family.

The Military Funeral Ceremony

Some aspects of the military funeral ceremony may differ between individuals, depending on whether or not they served in active duty, retirement versus discharge, what rank they held, etc. But the fundamental elements of the ceremony are the same for all. Most of these proceedings take place at the grave site rather than at the funeral.

The proceedings are described below:

  • A hearse or sometimes a horse-drawn caisson brings the service member’s body to the grave site. The body is contained in a casket, which is then draped in an American flag.
  • If the service member or his/her family wishes, a chaplain can address the crowd.
  • After the committal service, the honor guard will approach the grave and unfold the American flag over the casket.
  • As the flag is lifted taut, three volleys are fired by a firing party usually comprised of seven persons. Sometimes, leftover shells from the volleys are tucked into the folded flag later.
  • After the volleys, the bugler will sound “Taps.”
  • The honor guard will then fold the American flag twelve times in the traditional method, the end result being a triangular shape showing the stars. Learn the symbolism behind each of the twelve folds here.
  • Lastly, the highest ranking officer present may show the folded flag to the family of the deceased, salute, and give a statement if they wish.

Showing Our Thanks and Devotion

At Low VA Rates, we are grateful every day for the sacrifices made by those who have fallen. Whether they died old or young, at home or far away, we are indebted to their service. In return, we hope to provide opportunities for veterans and their families, both in the mortgage industry and in the path to homeownership. To learn more about what we do to reach out to the veteran community and show our appreciation, visit our website or follow us on social media.

13 Military Inventions You Might Use Every Day

The U.S. military is in a state of constant technological advancement. Many of their advancements have majorly impacted civilian markets and have even changed the world. Here are some military inventions that many civilians use and enjoy on a daily basis. 

Do you use one or more of these inventions every day?

13 U.S. Military Inventions That Shaped Everyday Life

Global Positioning System (GPS)

At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. Department of Defense proposed a system of 24 satellites that would becomeMilitary to Civilian Life GPS the GPS project. The project drew from several older navigational systems like the Navy’s TRANSIT and was designed to overcome their limitations. In 1974, the first satellite of the 24 planned satellites was launched. The project was finished in 1995 with a total of 27 fully functional GPS satellites in orbit.

In 1983, President Ronald Regan announced GPS would henceforth be available for civilian use, and in 1996, President Bill Clinton issued a policy directive ending selective availability, meaning the civilian signal would from then on be as strong as the military one. Later, President George W. Bush updated the policy to protect civilian GPS from direct user fees.

EpiPens

In the 1970’s, a former NASA engineer named Shel Kaplan developed an auto injector for the military after creating a similar tool known as the ComboPen. The self-injecting technology was used to save soldiers from nerve gas and other chemical weapons. Ever since 1980, EpiPens have saved civilian lives too, protecting them against severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.

The Internet

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET, was a project funded by the Department of Defense. It was a wide-area network that used packet switching, the world’s major data communications method today. ARPANET was the first network to use the protocol suite TCP/IP, and both of these systems would prove to be the technological ancestors of the Internet we know today.

Air Traffic Control

The technical foundations of air traffic control were developed by the military during World War I. In 1922, the first air traffic control system in the U.S., Air Mail Radio Stations, utilized tracking and directing methods the military had developed for reconnaissance aircraft. Air travel that we enjoy today is made possible by effective air traffic control.

Duct Tape

Military Inventions Duct TapeDuring World War II, the U.S. military commissioned the making of duct tape from the manufacturing company Johnson & Johnson. This request came about because of Vesta Stoudt, a woman who worked in a factory assembling boxes of grenade-launching cartridges. The boxes were covered in a water-proofing wax, which would be peeled off by pulling on a tab of thin paper tape. Unfortunately, the tape was so thin and flimsy that the tab would simply rip apart, leaving the wax unbroken and soldiers unable to open the box to access the grenades.

Knowing this would endanger the lives of soldiers under fire, two of whom were her own sons, Stoudt wrote President Franklin D. Roosavelt with a proposal for a stronger, cloth-based waterproof tape. The idea took, and the military began mass production of “duck tape,” supposedly named for the duck cloth from which it was made.

Aviator Sunglasses

The original aviator sunglasses, now a popular Ray Bans item, were constructed with G-15 tempered glass lenses and made convex so as to cover as much of the human eye as possible. They were designed to protect military pilots from the harsh light in the stratosphere. “Aviators” subsequently gained a lot of traction in the fashion industry.

Silly Putty

During World War II, James Wright, an engineer employed by the U.S. War Production Board, accidentally created silly putty while trying to develop a cheaper alternative to synthetic rubber. The military showed little interest in what they called “nutty putty,” but it was quickly picked up by toy companies and became a hit in civilian markets.

Pressurized Cabins

Before pressurized cabins were a reality, altitude sickness, barotrauma, and hypoxia were just some of the physical side effects of flying at high altitudes. Then came the B-29 Superfortress in 1944: it was built with the first non-experimental pressurized cabin, featuring a tunnel-like mid-section of the plane that connected the nose and the cockpit to the aft. For the first time, soldiers were able to move about the plane in relative comfort. This design was soon adopted by civilian passenger planes. Today, we’re able to travel comfortably (well, most of us are) at otherwise harmful heights.

Radar

In 1930, the U.S. Navy and Army began developing radio equipment that could locate enemy vessels. The Navy patented a wave-interference apparatus that could detect the presence of an object by measuring interruptions in wave transmission. The Army, through the Signal Corps Laboratories, developed radio position-finding (RPF) as a radio-echo technique.

Thanks to these advancements in radar, American scientists fifteen years later accidentally discovered that radar transmitters released enough heat to cook food. As a result, the microwave oven was developed. Microwave ovens started out huge and cumbersome but were eventually fitted to the typical American kitchen. They are now found in practically every home.

Slinkies

A naval mechanical engineer stationed at Philadelphia’s Cramp Shipyard in 1943 accidentally invented the slinky while trying to develop a stabilizing spring for delicate instruments used at sea. The slinky was a commercial hit after marketers showed it “walking” down a decline.

Jeeps

In the years 1941 to 1945, the first light four-wheel drive utility vehicles were designed

and manufactured by the Army. They were named Willy MB’s and would later be adopted in the automotive industry as the much beloved Jeep CJ.

Computers

The first electric, general-purpose computer was called the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or Military Inventions ComputersENIAC. It was built for calculating artillery firing tables for the Ballistic Research Laboratory. It was also used to conduct tests during the development of thermonuclear weaponry. Today, our world is run by computers; they allow us to support our families, manage our finances, connect with loved ones, share information, seek education, and solve world problems with unprecedented speed and ease.

Nuclear Technology

X-Rays and Chemo Therapy are medical resources we have today because of the nuclear advances made during World War II. Though many have died because of it, nuclear power has also saved countless lives through essential imaging and radiation treatment. Nuclear technology has also contributed to the development of pest control, food preservation, the diversification of crop genetics, the sterilization of medical supplies, smoke detectors, and environmental tracers.

We owe a lot to our military. Not only do they protect and preserve our lives, but many of their inventions have moved the world forward and made our lives more worth living. At Low VA Rates, we want to give a big thank you to the incredible minds behind these life-changing technologies. The benefits are certainly not lost on us!

How the US Keeps the Military and Presidency Separate

Comander-in-Chief Military

One of the many beliefs the United States Constitution was founded upon is that the military should be controlled by a civilian. The president of the United States is designated in the Constitution as this civilian commander-in-chief.

No military training is required in order to become president, and no training is given the president upon his being sworn into office. So how does this affect military and political affairs? And what is the reasoning behind civilian control of the military?

Separation of Powers

According to Article II of the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces. The Constitution also states that all three branches of government, namely the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, have some share of control over the military. The president has the highest authority but maintains his status as a civilian by having no military rank.

Second to the president in military control is the secretary of defense, who also holds civilian status, or at least, cannot have served in the armed forces within the seven years prior to his/her appointment. The secretary of defense is the chief executive officer of the Department of Defense, the team in charge of all national security and armed forces operations.

Why Civilian Control of the Military?

While many of the ideas presented in the U.S. Constitution were novel for their time, some were inspired by British rule. Civilian control of the military is a tradition the Founding Fathers adopted from the British.

There are many reasons why civilian control of the military is supported as a practice. Some argue that it prevents the formation of a state within a state. A state within a state occurs when an entity within a nation, such as the armed forces or a church, does not acknowledge the greater civilian political government.

Subjecting the military to civilian authority is also a characteristic of democratic models of government. Many political theorists argue that the people must control the military in order to be free rather than allowing the military to control the people.

Exactly how the theory of civilian control is carried out varies from country to country.

There have been moments in American history (and in present America) when commanders-in-chief and high-ranking military officers have rubbed each other the wrong way. To secure their control over policy or strategy, a few presidents have even dismissed high-ranking officers.

For example, early in American history, John Adams fired his secretary of war. Later, James Polk faced trouble with his generals seeking the presidency on an opposing ticket. Abraham Lincoln fired George McClellan during the Civil War for acting contrary to military policy, and Harry S. Truman dismissed Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War for similar reasons.

In 2010, Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the U.S. and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, resigned his post under President Obama after ridiculing members of Obama’s administration in a Rolling Stones article.

In contrast to these, there are many examples of mutual trust between U.S. presidents and their generals, one being John F. Kennedy and General Maxwell D. Taylor. After the Bay of Pigs incident, Kennedy felt he could no longer rely on the expertise of his joint chiefs of staff. His relationship with Taylor was such that he requested Taylor come out of retirement and be his military advisor. Later, Lyndon B. Johnson would prove largely deferential towards General William C. Westmoreland when it came to the war in Vietnam.

President Military ExperienceThe Mixing of Political and Military Affairs

There are those in the military who think military affairs are too often politicized. They strongly prefer political leaders who trust military officials to accomplish objectives according to their judgment and experience as opposed to leaders who micromanage every military action.

One study of the last 200 years of U.S. foreign policy shows government tendencies to act aggressively in war if a non-veteran is in command and defensively if a veteran is in command. Another study revealed that the American people are more supportive of wars or other military operations if government leaders have personal experience serving in the armed forces.

The political and military workings of our great nation are complex and carry a rich history. To learn more about the military and its diverse operations and culture, as well as our many veterans, visit our blog.

Military Families

For many Americans, military service is a long-held family tradition. Studies and polls today show that the likelihood of someone joining the military is significantly increased if any of their immediate or extended family members have served or are currently serving. However, since the draft was discontinued, the pool of individuals with relatives in the military has become smaller, which is beginning to have ramifications in the recruitment process.

Military Service: the Family BusinessMilitary Families and Serving Traditions

What influences people to join the military? Is family the only factor, or is there something else driving people to serve their country?

Sons Following Fathers

About a fourth of all boys who have fathers in the military will follow in their father’s footsteps, according to one study about children adopting their parents’ occupations. The percentage was much smaller for mothers and daughters. Another study claims that a child with a military parent (or two military parents) is five times as likely to join the military as other children.

Sibling Service

Many veterans say it was their sibling’s military service that inspired them to join themselves. Studies have concluded that, oddly enough, sibling configuration plays a noticeable role in the likelihood of someone joining the military. Ever since military service became voluntary, older siblings have been more likely to serve than younger siblings, according to one study. This study also found that the more siblings a man has, the more likely he is to join. Women with many sisters are also more likely to join, as opposed to women with many brothers.

Military Brats

It’s said that military youth (affectionately referred to as brats) are twice as likely to join the military as children raised in non-military households. According to recent studies, 23 percent of all military brats go on to join the military, specifically, 52 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls. 38 percent of these join the Army and 32 percent join the Air Force.

Many military brats who don’t join the military go on to have care-related occupations, becoming doctors, teachers, or social workers, to name a few. Surveys show that military brats are generally more patriotic than their peers and have a greater sense of loyalty to their country.

Recruiting Inside and Outside the Family

According to the Pentagon, nearly 80 percent of the troops enlisted in 2012 and 2013 came from military families; in other words, they had at least one close relative in the military. For 25 percent of these, that relative was a parent.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Department of Defense found that more than half of all recruits had family connections to the military.

Branch Army Navy Marine Corps Air Force
% of recruits with military family members 79 percent 82 percent 77 percent 86 percent

Individuals with a family military background have a clearer understanding of military service and the weight of such a commitment. In this sense, they are better equipped to serve than individuals who have no personal experience with military service.

Since the draft ended, the military has shrunk considerably, and so there are fewer adults of enlisting age who have this kind of background. Recruiters are aware of this and have begun devising new recruitment strategies that don’t depend on family association.

Caring for the Military Family

Military families have a special place in our hearts here at Low VA Rates. With an understanding that military service affects everyone, not just the individuals serving, we exist to help veterans, their spouses, and their children live comfortable lives.

PTSD in Children

We know that it’s not necessary to be enlisted in the military and travel overseas to experience post traumatic stress disorder. In the United States, specifically inner city areas, children and teenagers are developing PTSD from trauma they experience or witness on the streets and in their own homes. PTSD in children is very common. Kids suffer from traumas that include but are not limited to physical and sexual assault, natural disasters, school shootings, and car crashes.

But even when these children experience traumatic events in their youth, there is still hope for healing and recovery. One way to assist these kids recover from a traumatic experience is through America’s real-life superheroes: United States veterans.

Find out how US combat vets are helping inner-city youth who struggle with PTSD.

Helping PTSD in Children and US Veterans Help Kids with PTSDVets with PTSD 

In 2015, a man named Eddie Bocanegra was released from prison after being sentenced for gang violence. With the help of his brother, an Army veteran, Eddie realized the similarities between what soldiers experienced in war and what children and teens experience in gang life. Both soldiers and gang members suffered from PTSD.

With this newfound perspective, Eddie founded the organization Urban Warriors, and called on Chicago’s combat veterans to help support the thousands of children currently experiencing a myriad of traumas.

According to NPR storywriter Audie Cornish, 3,000 people were shot in Chicago in 2015 with as many as 151 shootings concentrated in a single neighborhood. Based out of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Initiative, Urban Warriors was set up to help any and all children affected by this violence.

Many others like Eddie Bocanegra are realizing that gang life has several similarities to a war zone. In generalized terms, soldiers carry guns, have ranks, and sometimes have to kill people; it’s the same life that many inner-city kids are living at such young ages. Additionally, these kids know what it means to fear for their safety and even their lives. They’ve seen loved ones and comrades die in front of them, just like many veterans have.

The Urban Warriors curriculum includes 16 weeks of therapy centered primarily on discussion. In almost any therapeutic program dealing with PTSD, the path to healing is the same: talking. Victims are encouraged, but never forced, to talk about what they feel, what they saw, and their fears for the future.

There are five terms that Urban Warriors holds up as curriculum objectives: belonging, positive identity development, cognitive restructuring, coping, and community engagement.

Over the 16 designated weeks, kids talk about the traumatic events they’ve experienced, and the combat veterans talk about theirs. The veterans at Urban Warriors are trained to help young people understand and process their feelings. Empathy and shared experiences are the tools they use to give the nightmare a name and a face: if children understand what PTSD is, they are better equipped to handle it in themselves.

The veterans also work to dispel stigmas and help kids understand that their reactions to trauma are normal, human, and okay.

After they complete their time at Urban Warriors, children and veterans alike can choose to continue their journey of healing by participating in Story Squad. In this program, children and veterans can make audio recordings of their personal experiences with violence. Story Squad then shares these stories with the community and the world through the internet. The thinking behind Story Squad is similar to that of Urban Warriors: talking and sharing is cathartic for PTSD victims of any age.

The Urban Warriors Story Album is available for streaming on SoundCloud and can be accessed here: https://soundcloud.com/ysvp/sets/urban-warriors-story-album

PTSD in Children Statistics and Symptoms

Combat Veterans and Teens with PTSDAccording to the VA, more than 30 percent of children ages 10 – 16 have been sexually or physically assaulted. Every year, 5.5 million children are intercepted by child protective services. A third of these interceptions are due to abuse. 60 percent of this abuse is neglect, 18 percent is physical, 10 percent is sexual, and 7 percent is psychological.

3 – 10 million children a year witness family violence, and around half these instances involve some form of child abuse. Note that only a third of child abuse cases are even reported. Among children, as many as 43 percent of girls and 43 percent of boys can experience a type of trauma. Of these, almost 15 percent of girls and 6 percent of boys are diagnosed with PTSD.

Whether or not a child develops PTSD has to do with the severity of the trauma they experience, their proximity to the trauma, and the reaction of their parents. Kids with PTSD desperately need responsive, caring parents as they express symptomatic behavior; those with supportive and patient parents heal faster and more completely than those without.

As we see from the statistics, girls are more likely than boys to get PTSD.

Children ages 5-12 will deal with their trauma by reenacting it at playtime. They don’t have flashbacks like adults, but they become increasingly hyperaware of the future, looking for telltale signs of the next trauma and trying to plan out how they can avoid it. Teens ages 12-18 are the ones most likely to express their PTSD through impulsive or aggressive behavior.

Common emotional changes in children with PTSD include increased fear, worry, sadness, and low self-worth. Particularly when it comes to sexual abuse, child victims are more prone to self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse.

PTSD Treatment for Kids Is Similar to Treatment for Vets

Around the world, huge advancements are being made eliminating stigmas and recognizing PTSD as a serious disability. Some school districts use psychological first aid (PFA) to help afflicted kids function and remain in school. Many therapists are using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to help children, as they do with adults. Like was mentioned earlier, communication and self-expression appear to be key in overcoming the crippling effects of trauma, regardless of age.

Many children and adults fighting PTSD need to be reassured that the world is not a wholly unsafe place. Therapy and education dispel false notions about trauma and false notions about the world as a result. Children and veterans are taught how to remain calm when bombarded with bad memories.

Parents of traumatized children play an especially important role in the recovery process. Generally, all PTSD recovery programs are designed to also help loved ones and immediate family in addition to the victims.

Often, many combat veterans return home to their families only to alienate and even harm them due to unchecked mental illness. Similarly, parents who don’t understand or respond well to their child’s trauma can make the situation worse. This is why many programs are eager to educate parents on their children’s changing behavior and what it means. This understanding allows parents to gauge their child’s mental state and help them heal.

About Low VA Rates

We at Low VA Rates make home and family our business. Our mission is to provide a good life for veterans, knowing full well that many have seen or experienced terrible things. We work to understand the struggles you face, and we are here to help you, whether through affordable housing, events and fundraisers, or raising awareness of these issues on our blog.

We hope everyone will be aware of PTSD and its causes and effects in their community and abroad. May we all reach out to those still fighting the invisible war.

Military Inventions

From Civilian Life to Military Use

While the U.S. military is responsible for many game-changing inventions, there are a few the military didn’t invent that nonetheless owe their commercial success to military use. Additionally, there are some civilian inventions that didn’t necessarily become marketable to civilians, but did become famous due to their use in wartime.

Check out this list of inventions that became well known and/or widely used thanks to the armed forces.

Military Tools Crafted by Civilians

Freeze Drying

The process of freeze drying was invented by non-military scientists and used only occasionally in the lab; but the first instance of extensive freeze drying that proved to the world its vast potential was during World War II. The American Red Cross used freeze drying to transport blood plasma from the U.S. to the war front in Europe. The method protected samples from spoiling and opened the door for its commercial use.

Wrist Watch Made Famous by MilitaryWristwatches

When the wristwatch first emerged in civilian markets, it was seen as an odd, comical fad. But with time, the wearing of wristwatches was normalized by military men. Ease of access was the watch’s major selling point: soldiers discovered that precious seconds were saved checking the time on their wrists, as opposed to fumbling around for pocket watches while under heavy fire.

Super Glue

Superglue, Krazy Glue, and Eastman are all members of the same family: they are cyanoacrylates, or adhesives that are exceptionally strong and fast-acting. Cyanoacrylate was accidentally invented by Dr. Harry Coover Jr., who was originally looking to create clear plastic gun sights. During the Vietnam War, soldiers reportedly used medical cyanoacrylates to seal battle wounds. The method wasn’t recommended for civilians, but it helped showcase the many possibilities of cyanoacrylates. Superglue quickly became a popular item for the household and the workplace.

Feminine Hygiene Products

In 1914, cellucotton was invented by a paper mill and lumber company named Kimberly-Clark. Made from pulp wood, it was soft, fluffy, and five times more absorbent that regular cotton. The military soon began buying the material for wound bandaging. At that time, women wore uncomfortable cloth diapers during menstruation that were a nightmare to maintain. Soon, many of the war nurses observed the superior qualities of cellucotton and cut themselves strips after caring for wounded soldiers. When Kimberly-Clark discovered this, they began to use cellucotton to make the first sanitary napkins.

Safety Razors

Before World War I, barbers were the preferred method when tending to facial hair needs. Then, during World War I, inventor King C. Gillette entered into a contract with the U.S. government to make his product, disposable-blade safety razors, standard issue for American soldiers in every branch of the military. Gillette sold nearly 4 million razors as a result, and soon after, everyone at home was using them too.

Hand Crank Flashlights

In 1943, Dutch company Philips developed the dynamo, a hand-powered torch that was issued to troops after the devastation of war made electric light scarce. These hand-crank flashlights became very popular in Europe and the United States and some original models still function today.

The Higgins BoatHiggins Boat Invented by Civilian, Used by Military

In 1930, struggling inventor Andrew Higgins had devoted his life to boat-building after his lumber transport company went bankrupt. At first, boat-building didn’t seem to bring him much success either, until the U.S. Marine Corps showed interest in one of his designs. It had originally been intended for the use of oil-drillers, but after testing the boat in simulated combat, the Marines found the design superior to some Naval models. The Higgins Boat or “U-Boat” went on to play a vital role in the war, shaping Allied victories at Normandy, Sicily, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, to name a few.

Armed Forces and Everyday Americans

Wartime affects our lives in more ways than we realize: besides protecting our freedom, over the years, the armed forces have shaped civilian technology, markets, and even diets. And many American victories, for which we’re very thankful, were possible because of the ingenuity of non-military scientists and inventors.

VA Rehabilitation Services

Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Programs Offered by the VAVeteran Affairs Rehabilitation

Like much of their medical care, VA mental health care is tailored to military culture and equipped with professionals specifically devoted to the emotional well-being of veterans. Listed in this article are just a few of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs available to veterans through the VA. Many of these organizations and programs are going to guarantee the following services:

  • First-time screening for alcohol or tobacco use in all VA care locations
  • Short outpatient counseling
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • Residential (line-in) care
  • Medical detoxification
  • Continuing care and relapse prevention
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Self-help groups
  • Drug substitution therapies
  • Cutting-edge medication to subdue cravings

Confidential Online Screening

The VA provides a confidential online assessment for those who think they have a substance addiction. The screening is provided by the VA through MyHealth.

Veterans Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Program

This program is offered by the VA through the Veterans Health Administration. Available to alcohol and drug dependent veterans, it provides all sorts of rehabilitation like detoxification and psychiatric care. To participate in this program, you’ll need to be enrolled in VA Health Care.

Mental Health Care Handbook

To navigate the many rehabilitation and self-help resources available, the VA published The Guide to VA Mental Health Services for Veterans and Families. This handbook helps veterans and their families identify and locate mental health programs that fit their needs. It lists several VA mental health care providers who coordinate with each other to provide the best service possible.

VA-Recommended Self-Help Resources

The VA recommends certain self-help books and websites for help with substance abuse. These include:

 

  • Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health

 

    • DrugScreening.org
    • Stay Quit Coach (app)
    • SMART Recovery: Self-Management and Recovery Training

 

  • Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.

The VA’s OEND Program

Seeing the effects of opioid abuse in veterans, the VA developed a preventative OEND (Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution) program. In this program, veterans are trained to help one another by recognizing and responding to an opioid overdose with the proper use of naloxone.

MakeTheConnection.net

MakeTheConnection.net is an online resource where veterans who have recovered from addictions share their stories to inspire others. The site provides video testimonials of various types of therapy and their effectiveness. It also has information about non-VA health care providers and what they offer.

1-855-QUIT-VET

Veterans enrolled in VA Health Care and struggling with nicotine addiction can call the smoking quitline at 1-855-QUITE-VET. The line is operational Monday through Friday and closed on federal holidays. Those who call can speak with a Quit VET counselor who will customize a quit plan suited to their needs. Quit VET counselors help veterans learn to formulate a plan for quitting and take preventative measures against relapse. Counselors also consistently follow up to make sure motivation and morale is high.

Veterans can also text VET to 47848 to begin participating in SmokefreeVET. This text messaging program provides daily encouragement, reminders, and pointers for veterans who are trying to quit smoking.

VA Rehabilitation Methodology

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders (CBT-SUD) is widely used by VA mental health Rehab and Other VA Services for Vetsprofessionals in addition to Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).

CBT-SUD is a psychotherapy that helps people become aware of their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-awareness has proved vital to full recovery from substance abuse. With it, people can identify patterns in their thoughts and make preventative mental changes as a result.

MI and MET are both concerned with eliminating ambivalence and increasing a person’s motivation to change. Counselors who practice MI or MET will encourage veterans to talk openly about their substance abuse and eventually narrow the conversation to focus on thoughts or feelings that need changing. Counselors help their clients realize how important change really is. After motivation is realized, it’s kept alive by realistic goals and careful planning.

A Better Life for Veterans

Substance abusers can attest to the misery of living life as a slave to addiction. There are many different challenges of life that, if left unaided, can enslave a person. Financial uncertainty is one of these. Talk to one of our certified loan officers today to learn how we can help provide future financial certainty for you and your family.

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