What Is the Minimum Credit Score for a VA Loan?

Drawing of cell phones showing different credit scores with their ratings

Many lenders require your credit score to be above a certain number before they’ll issue you a VA loan. And they’re allowed to do that.

But there isn’t a minimum credit score for VA loan qualification according to the VA’s guidelines, so Low VA Rates chooses not to require one. We can, and often do, work with veterans who have very low credit scores.

Good and Bad Credit Scores

To refresh your memory, the lowest possible credit score is 300, and the highest is 850. Lenders often rate scores like this:

  • <550: Bad
  • 550–649: Poor
  • 650–699: Fair
  • 700–749: Good
  • 750+: Excellent

We know that some veterans with low scores have just had financial trouble in the past, but they’re now able and willing to pay their debts. And some veterans just haven’t had a chance to build a credit history yet.

Because of these reasons, we’ve chosen to help them instead of just turning them away for a loan.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Of course, we’re still aware of borrowers’ credit scores, and there’s a cost to a low score: you probably won’t be able to get the best interest rates, which leads to higher monthly payments.

Some borrowers choose to work on improving their credit score before taking out a mortgage—even if it takes a year or two. You’re going to pay off a house over many years, so it can benefit you to have lower payments over that whole period.

And we’ll definitely work with you any time you’d like to get a quote! And, if we find out your credit score doesn’t qualify you for the interest rate you’d want, we’ll work with you directly to help raise it, even if it means waiting a while before you can get a mortgage from us.

But, in the meantime, if you’re not quite ready to call in and talk with a loan officer, here are five tips that can help you start raising your score now:

  1. Never be late on debt payments
  2. Keep low or zero balances on credit cards
  3. Only get one new line of credit at a time
  4. Pay off debts as soon as possible, beginning with the one that has the highest interest rate
  5. Order your credit report once a year and fight any mistakes in it

One thing to note is that, even if you follow these pieces of advice exactly, you might not see an improvement to your credit score for several months. This is especially true for paying off a debt.

The reason for this delay is that it can sometimes take a few months for the credit bureaus to remove that debt from your credit report. But we promise, if you follow these steps, it will happen!

Even if you don’t have any kind of credit history, these five pieces of advice still apply, though in a slightly different way. Essentially what you’ll want to do is get a single credit card and follow these five guidelines in how you use that card.

Doing so will help you start building a positive credit history, and once you’ve developed good habits with one card, you could apply for another one, and so on, to keep that positive credit data growing.

How Low VA Rates Can Help Those with Low Credit Scores

We specialize in loans for veterans. If you talk with one of our loan specialists—some who are veterans like you—he or she will look at several factors in your background.

One of the first and most important is your honorable military service is first. The next important qualification is the stability of your income, which can be from a job, VA disability payments, or investments.

They’ll also help you add up all your expenses, including debt payments and the potential VA loan, to make sure you’ll have enough money left over at the end of each month. This is a VA guideline, which helps the VA loan program to be safer for you and for all veterans.

And, while they’ll also look at your credit score, we know that a high credit score doesn’t always guarantee that someone can handle a new mortgage because their situation may have changed.

We also know the opposite is true, so even if you have a low credit score, you can qualify for a good VA loan as long as you can show your willingness and ability to afford and pay for it.

So, whether you choose to improve your credit score first or you want to buy your home right away, Low VA Rates will be here to help.

The Army Pay Chart

Many people are curious about military pay. The men and women who serve our country are truly selfless, but no one can deny that monetary compensation is still important to consider because you need to know how much you’ll have to live off of. This can affect the house you get, the food you buy, if you let your kids join sports teams, and the list goes on. Find out how you’ll be compensated for your service.

Military Basic Pay


Calculating Military Pay ChartThe compensation a person receives includes more than just money. Listing and explaining every benefit and service military personnel get would take several pages. The biggest portion (and the part people are probably the most interested in) is basic pay. Basic pay is the base amount of money each military member gets, and it’s distributed bimonthly on the 1st and the 15th.

Understanding the Army pay chart really isn’t too difficult. It’s formatted using rank and amount of service time. It’s split into two major categories of rank: enlisted and officer. The rank code is the same from branch to branch but titles vary. If you don’t already know, the codes range from E-1 to E-9 and O-1 to O-9, depending on what level of promotion a military member is at.

The basic pay actually doesn’t vary from branch to branch. No matter which branch of the military you’re looking at, they all receive the same basic pay, meaning someone in the navy can look at the same official chart as someone in the Army. You can find many of these charts on various sites, and they will show you what the monthly pay is for the rankings and lengths of service for anyone in any branch. Some even show money allowance for clothing and similar items.

So Many Military Benefits!

Military Pay and BenefitsMilitary pay is made up of more than just basic pay. The Army is specifically predicted to offer the average active duty member up to about $99,000 altogether in compensation. More than half of this isn’t cash and includes everything from medical insurance to special housing programs through the VA. This sounds very attractive to many people who are considering joining the Army. Any variance you’re going to see between branches is going to come from these added benefits, many of which depend on an individual situation. Some members of the national guard, for example, receive special pay for an overseas extension, hardship, flight duties, hostile fire and imminent danger, diving duty, and much more. The list is quite long for circumstances that warrant special pay and each of these even includes more details to understand what acts really count towards special pay.

Out of all these benefits, the one we deal with specifically is the VA loan (for purchasing and refinance), which is offered to all retired or active military personnel. Beyond this, there are more things to consider that might make one branch more financially appealing than another. However, even these benefits are more or less the same across the military. The most variance you’re going to see is between rankings and service time. To see how these compare, check out the military pay chart. Download the chart, and discover the kind of future a military career offers you!

 

Information for this article was gathered from the US Army website.

US Army Reserve: Becoming “Twice the Citizen”

What is the biggest difference between active duty and serving in the Army Reserve? It really comes down to the amount of time you spend actually performing military duties. With the Army Reserve, you are afforded much more flexibility because when training is checked off the list, you get to return home and settle back into civilian life.

Of course, training is never completely checked off the list. Reservists consistently return for training to keep their skills sharp and ready for use. Find out what it means to be in the Army Reserve and the benefits it can bring into your life.

Army Reserve Soldiers Are Pushed to the Limits

Army Reserve members must go through the same initial 10 weeks of training that active duty members do. This Life in the Army Reserves and the VA Benefits that Come with Serviceincludes Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training.

For the remainder of their service, reservists mainly live civilian lives except when they return for further trainings once a month for a weekend.

Beyond this monthly instruction, they also have a two-week training once each year during which they focus on sharpening specialty skills. Some choose to advance their skills even further by attending specialty schools such as the Air Assault and Airborne schools (the two most popular options).

Just because reservists are not serving every day like active duty, that doesn’t mean that their workload is a walk in the park. Their training is intense and constantly keeps them on their toes so that they are ready for duty whenever they are called on.

Take a look at Air Assault School, for example. Throughout the course of these trainings, the students are required to perform physically and mentally demanding tasks that push them to their limits. Despite their exhaustion, they must be sharp at all times. And when graduation comes around at the end of those two weeks, they must complete a 12-mile march with full gear in under three hours.

Another choice of instruction is going through Airborne School, where you earn your wings and become a paratrooper. It’s a three-week course that is just as physically and mentally exhausting as Air Assault School, but it emphasizes learning how to use a parachute in a variety of circumstances.

Enlistment Requirements in the Reserve

The Army Reserve has a few requirements in place that are meant to ensure, prior to enlistment, that you are capable and prepared to take on all the duties of a reservist:

  • You must provide a high school diploma or an equivalent (such as a GED or equivalency certificate).
  • There is a strict age requirement of 18 to 35 years. To enlist, you may not be older than 35 and may be 17 only with parental consent.
  • Two tests are also required: the ASVAB and an exam to test physical fitness.

Army Reserve Benefits and Careers

Army Reserve Requirements, Benefits, and CareersThere are more than 120 types of careers available for reservists through the Army, but, as mentioned before, this is not full-time work. For a full-time position with the Army, look into active duty service.

Beyond the wide array of career options, perhaps the best part about being in the Army Reserve is the flexibility. You can choose to live wherever you wish, have whatever civilian career you want, and spend plenty of time with family and friends.

In addition, there are opportunities to advance in rank within the Army Reserve. As far as pay is concerned, you are paid according to rank and length of service. You are also helped with payments for student loans, health insurance, and education expenses. And you can’t discount all the personal, physical, and mental skills you add to your repertoire.

Low VA Rates and VA Home Loan Benefits for Reservists

One more benefit to add to that list is that serving in the Army Reserve can qualify you for a VA loan. Serving long-term in the Army Reserve makes you eligible to receive all the perks and benefits that come with VA home loans, such as a no-down-payment loan option and lower interest rates.

At Low VA Rates, we talk to reservists all the time, helping them with one of the most significant and costly investments of their lives – their homes. Visit our blog to learn more about eligibility and find out how much you could save.

Blue Water Vets and Agent Orange

Agent Orange Effects on Vietnam Veterans

Agent Orange: a harmful combination of herbicides 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D first used by the British in the Malayan Agent Orange Effects in VietnamEmergency. When Operation Ranch Hand was put into effect by the U.S. in Vietnam, Agent Orange was again pulled out of reserves, with consequences just as harmful and just as extensive.

The Geneva Disarmament Convention of 1978 prohibits any country from harming forests and jungles, but an exception specifically states that any vegetation can be harmed if military combatants use these natural areas as cover in any way.

It was under these very circumstances that Agent Orange (AO) was used during the Vietnam War. The U.S. military dropped millions of gallons of Agent Orange over massive expanses of vegetation on Vietnam to eat away at the leaves of trees and bushes, thereby exposing the enemy. That was the objective of Operation Ranch Hand—to get the enemy out into the open.

But if AO could eat away at all of these plants, you can only imagine what it does when it comes in contact with human flesh. This isn’t to mention the lasting health effects of this poisonous herbicide. With so much of this concoction being sprayed over the land, it was inevitable that Vietnamese and American troops alike would be exposed to it.

Agent Orange Affects Blue Water Vets

Agent Orange Exposure in Vietnam Agent Orange affects the benefits of thousands of blue water vets. The Department of Veterans Affairs has listed 14 presumptive diseases on their site that are conditions assumed to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange, including several life-threatening cancers.

Certain birth defects in children of affected veterans also qualify as presumptive diseases, and more research is being done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) all the time to investigate other possible diseases.

The VA offers several benefits to affected veterans that mainly include health care and disability compensation. Originally, the Agent Orange Act of 1991 stated all Vietnam vets were eligible to receive these benefits if they had been affected by Agent Orange. However, a provision in 2002 altered specifications, excluding thousands from benefits that they should have had the right to obtain.

The biggest issue argued over today is that veterans who were located out in the deep waters of the sea near Vietnam are not considered eligible to receive benefits if they never set foot on Vietnamese soil or traversed Vietnamese rivers. These “Blue Water” veterans have been fighting for their rights for a long time—which is really put into perspective when you think about the fact that the Vietnam war ended forty years ago, and these vets are still suffering without aid.

Organizations have claimed in the past that there was insufficient evidence to support the fact that these veterans were adversely affected by Agent Orange, or even that they came in contact with the stuff in the first place.

However, the IOM has come out with new evidence that argues this is not only perfectly possible, it’s even likely. Thousands of veterans are suffering from diseases related to Agent Orange exposure, but they are not receiving any benefits as a result. These soldiers have served our country to the best of their abilities regardless of home obligations, and yet they are not shown the same amount of dedication and respect that they gave.

So many veterans are already being compensated for these adverse effects. Why exclude the Blue Water Navy veterans who were also exposed? Colorado has recently started taking action by passing a resolution that supports the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015, which will get these veterans the help they deserve. A few other states have also shown support for this act, and it’s expected that more action will start to unfold in the very near future.

Agent Orange: The Fight for Benefits Continues

Stay tuned to the issue. Keep up with our blog and keep your eyes on the news to stay in-the-know about legislation happening today. Every American should know about the veterans – the heroes – who aren’t getting the benefits they deserve. Share this article to spread the word.

 

Sources:

Denver Post

Pro Publica Journalism

US Department of Veterans Affairs

Stars and Stripes

National Guard Benefits

National Guard Benefits and Opportunities

Thinking about joining the United States National Guard? You’re not the only one. Thousands of active military members have joined the National Guard and have enjoyed the many benefits it provides. Find out if one of these reasons could make you join too!

National Guard Enlistment and CareersTop Reasons to Join this US Militia

  1. Get Skilled and Specialized

Members of the National Guard are respected members of the military. They participate in military training exercises and can be deployed to defend America in battle if needed. Those in the National Guard also have many additional training opportunities available to them. If you require specialized training or schooling, the National Guard will send you to a specialty school or university on scholarship to further your education. These extra skills are incredibly beneficial and often lead to new job opportunities both in the military and in civilian life.

  1. Great Pay for Every Work Day

In the National Guard, you receive payment every time you participate in the monthly Drill and annual trainings. “Drill Weekend” is a training session that Guard members are required to attend for one weekend a month. During Drill Weekend, all Guard members report to their state’s armory and spend two days participating in training exercises specific to their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). The weekend serves as a refresher on military skills as well as a chance for Guard members to resume their military careers for a couple of days. Once every summer, everyone involved with the National Guard also appears at their state’s armory for two weeks of active service. During these weeks of annual training, Guard members receive active status and are paid the same amount they would obtain on active duty.

All members of the National Guard are paid based on their rank, job, and education level. For example, an Army private with less than two years of experience would be paid about $3,000 annually, while a staff sergeant with four years of experience would be paid up to $6,000 annually. Additional benefits, including college scholarships, inexpensive healthcare and discounted life insurance, are also available to eligible Guard members.

  1. Live Your Life and Serve on the Side

National Guard Military BenefitsFor many people, working with the National Guard is an opportunity to improve civilian employment prospects. Because the National Guard only requires members to attend Drill Weekend and annual training’s, members often work another job as their main source of income. That way, soldiers can still provide for their families while maintaining contact with the military. The National Guard is also a great place to network and gain experience that will differentiate you from other candidates when seeking employment.

  1. Provide Care for Your Community

The National Guard strives to fulfill its motto: “Always ready, Always there.” Therefore, one of the main duties of the National Guard members is to serve and be present in their communities. During times of emergencies, Guard units are sent to communities plagued by disasters. After the danger is neutralized, they participate in clean-up and help rebuild destroyed structures. Units sent overseas to third-world countries aid their foreign communities by building hospitals and other needed facilities, doing everything in their power to help those around them.

National Guard Enlistment

Joining the National Guard is not only an incredibly simple process, but a highly beneficial one. Follow the example of the 500,000 men and women now serving in the Guard and apply today.

At Low VA Rates, we show our support to veterans who have served in the National Guard or who are on active duty by providing them with unbelievably low rates on house loans. Find out more information on our website!

Spouses of Veterans in Same-Sex Marriage

Now Eligible for All Benefits

Military Benefits Extended

If you haven’t heard about the supreme court ruling on same-sex marriage, you must be living in a cave in the woods. While news of the ruling has been plastered all over social media for days, there is an aspect to this ruling that has not had much coverage. Humorously, the ruling’s implications for individuals with concealed-carry permits has had more coverage than the ruling’s effects on our nation’s veterans. Previous to the ruling, the VA had not been able to provide VA benefits to the spouses of veterans in same-sex marriages if they were currently living or using the benefits in a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. That has all changed, along with a host of other things.

 

Since the Supreme Court declared disallowing same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, same-sex marriage has essentially become legal throughout the United States. For the VA, this means that there is no longer a restriction on who can receive those benefits. While the veterans themselves generally have access to their benefits, any benefits that involve the veteran’s spouse were not available to those in same-sex marriages. They are now. Susan Sommers, the director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, gave the following quote to USA Today:

 

“I’m very relieved by this news,” Sommers said, adding that veterans in same-sex marriages “shouldn’t be without the same protections that other people in the military can count on for themselves and their families once their service is over.”

 

At the moment, any pending benefits claims involving same-sex marriages are on hold at the VA because the VA will be pushing out policy and guidance on how to implement the changes from the ruling. As long as the veteran or veterans resided in the United States at the time of marriage or at the time of the application of benefits, no same-sex couple should be denied benefits based on the legality of their marriage. While this might seem fairly simple and straightforward, the VA will need to issue some guidance to their benefits handlers to make sure that all the cases are handled in the same correct way.

 

Before this ruling came down, one of the hardest benefits for same-sex couples to use was the VA loan benefit, since a veteran and his or her spouse can get a loan together and have the guarantee calculated off the full amount, while two “unmarried” individuals would have to use a joint loan, in which only the half covered by the veteran would be used to calculate the guarantee. As of the writing of this article, there has not been specific information provided on whether a lender can refuse to underwrite a VA loan on the basis that the couple is same-sex, but it’s doubtful that that will be allowed.

 

Supreme Court RulingSame-sex spouses also had difficulty accessing death pensions, disability pay, and burial rights if they were living in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriages. There may still be some issue, however, because some states have said that they will allow clerks to refuse to issue a marriage license. All of the effects of this historic ruling have not been realized, and it will depend on states’ reactions to the ruling to determine how easy it is to get a same-sex marriage license in states that previously did not recognize them. The VA has always worked to get veterans their benefits regardless of their sexual orientation or life choices, but their hands were previously tied by the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

While I think most would agree that a veteran’s military service shouldn’t be ignored and his or her benefits denied on the basis of sexual orientation, the full implications and consequences, both good and bad, of the Supreme Court’s ruling have yet to be realized. For more information on how to use your VA loan benefits, contact us at Low VA Rates and we’ll give you the most current information we have. You can also check out our FAQ on our website or our YouTube channel to look for answers to specific questions. We will be happy to answer any of your questions, and thank you for your service!

 

Veteran Unemployment Facts & The Companies That Want to Hire You

The following presentation outlines stats and facts related to Veteran unemployment and also highlights a number of companies that are focused on hiring Veterans including: Walmart, Verizon, UPS, General Electric, and more.

 

How to Transfer Your GI Bill Benefits to Your Spouse

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is a fantastic resource for veterans and active servicemembers, and provides a great deal of assistance to those seeking higher education. One of the best things about the GI Bill, however, is that it is transferrable. In other words, you can transfer your GI Bill benefits to your spouse, as long as your spouse is qualified. There are some indications that Congress will act to bring the benefits of the Post 9/11 GI Bill down to save taxpayer dollars, so it may be wise to be very strategic in determining how and when you want to use your GI Bill benefits – and for whom.

education

Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill went into effect, many military families have found that the biggest advantage to the program actually comes from being able to use the GI Bill for the non-military spouse’s education. The GI Bill may enable the spouse to get certified or get a degree that will allow the spouse to get better jobs than they can currently qualify for. Now, it’s important to remember that spouses who are utilizing the GI Bill benefit in place of the veteran are not eligible for the housing portion of the benefit (the Post 9/11 GI bill normally has a monthly allowance to cover housing for the veteran as he or she attends school). Usually, however, the lack of monthly allowance can be shrugged off in favor of having the spouse be able to finish his or her education before the servicemember is discharged from active duty.

There are some important things to know about transferring your GI Bill benefits to your spouse. We’ll talk about them here. First, you need to know that your spouse has to be enrolled in DEERS (Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System) before the benefits can be transferred. The spouse also has to show in that system as being eligible to receive transferred benefits before the transfer can take place. There is additional criteria for the servicemember in order for the benefits to be transferred, including that they obviously have to be eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill themselves, but they also have to meet one of the following criteria:

● Has at least six years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve four additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
● Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.

There are also rules that guide the transfer after the transfer occurs, and are important to remember throughout the entire process. First, the spouse is able to begin using the benefit as soon as the transfer has been made. The lack of a waiting period is a nice benefit for families who are hoping to have the spouse graduate as soon as possible. In addition, the spouse can use the benefit while the servicemember is still in active duty, or they can elect to wait until the servicemember has left active duty to begin their education, if desired. Remember that spouses are not eligible for the housing allowance – but only while the servicemember is still on active duty. This is an incentive for some families to wait for the spouse to use the benefits until the servicemember is discharged, because then they are eligible for the housing allowance and the servicemember can continue to work elsewhere.

Remember that spouses may use the benefit for up to 15 years after the servicemember is discharged. While most military families use up the benefits well within that time frame, it’s good to remember that you only have so much time to wait before the benefit will be gone. In the case of a divorce after the benefits have been transferred, the benefits do not instantly become void for the spouse. On the contrary, as long as the active servicemember allows it, the spouse can continue to use the benefit through to depletion. However, the servicemember has the right to revoke the transfer at any time and for any reason.

The Little Known Veterans Pension

Problems with a Veterans Affairs benefit have created a scam industry and left thousands of seniors ignorant of a pension they are entitled to receive, veterans advocates and congressional investigators say.  Many families are unaware of the pension for ailing combat veterans and their dependents, footing the bill for their care as up to $24,239 a year for each veteran sits unused. Advocates blame poor outreach by the Veterans Affairs Department, a massive federal agency that wields $127 billion each year.

Families that do know about the Aid and Attendance pension, sometimes called the widows’ pension, find themselves confronted with daunting paperwork. The applications, once submitted to one of three centralized processing offices, can take more than a year to approve.  Lisa Fitter spent 14 months seeking a pension for her mother-in-law, the widow of a World War II veteran, who suffered a massive stroke in May. The Fitters have struggled to provide 24-hour home care, and they pay an aide $15 to shower her each day.

“There is no excuse when you’re dealing with a 96-year-old woman,” said Fitter, 47, a Wellington Realtor. “She could have died.”

A spokesman for the VA told The New York Times in September that 38,076 veterans and 38,685 spouses were granted an Aid and Attendance pension in 2011. That year 1.7 million World War II veterans were alive and eligible for the pension.

Since December, hundreds of thousands have died, but more Korean War veterans, who number more than 2 million, will become eligible. The issue has particular resonance in Florida, where 187,900 World War II veterans reside, according to Veterans Affairs. The Census reports that about 32,846 Korean and World War II veterans live in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The benefit is a kind of last thank you for low-income veterans — or their spouses or dependent children — who are older than 65 and rely on others for daily care. They must have been a member of the Armed Forces at least one day during wartime and need not have been injured in combat.  On average, veterans received $9,669 in 2011, and their survivors received $6,209, according to a federal report published this year.

Critics have blasted the program from all sides. They say Veterans Affairs does little to advertise the pension in a deliberate attempt to keep the cost down and to relieve backlog.

Meanwhile, state and local veterans officials said they give presentations, set up tables and distribute information through organizations such as the American Legion. The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs distributes a benefits guide — but Aid and Attendance is conspicuously absent from it.

The dearth of education has led to other problems, as well. A parasitic industry of private “pension poachers,” as they’re known, has sprung up in the vacuum of official help.

“There’s no outreach to seniors, and because of that failure, [Veterans Affairs has] allowed a market to be created in partnership with financial advisors and assisted living properties,” said Deborah Burak, a Virginia lobbyist who has railed for pension reform after fighting with Veterans Affairs over benefits for her father.

“They put on huge seminars, and they always do it under the guise of honoring their sacrifice,” she said.

In a May report, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, counted more than 200 organizations nationally that sell financial products to seniors, ostensibly to help them dump wealth to meet asset restrictions on the pensions. Sometimes they offered annuities that the seniors could never hope to recover in their lifetimes, investigators reported.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, has introduced legislation that would make it illegal to transfer assets three years before applying for a pension.

While some say this will further complicate an onerous application process, a spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who introduced the companion bill, said clearing pension poachers from the system will free up time to process legitimate claims.

Piero Pareja, the veterans services officer for Palm Beach County, sees the backlog, though he said some applications are approved in a matter of weeks. He isn’t surprised that millions of bedridden seniors are unaware of the pension, but he encouraged veterans to call his tiny office (three people, including himself), rather than private companies. The Veterans’ Services Office is free and won’t hard sell financial products.

“We can help you,” he said. “We can do 100 percent of the paperwork.”

Pareja’s office did the paperwork for the Fitters, in Wellington. First Fitter and her husband tried to submit the application forms, along with backup documents, themselves. But Veterans Affairs denied their application, requesting more information. So they went to the Veterans’ Service Office.

That was in October. Then just last week, Pearl Fitter was admitted to a local hospital with an infection, as word came from Veterans Affairs. Their claim was approved.

 

Veterans Chaptered Out of Benefits

Jerrald Jensen joined the Army when he was 34, and called to duty, his wife says, by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  In 2006, he deployed to Iran, where he was the driver for a commander in his unit. By all accounts, he was an exemplary soldier.

In the fall of 2007, his patrol was attacked, and an explosive blew off part of his face and pierced his body with shrapnel. Jensen still managed to drive away from the attack, saving his commander before being shot in the arm and back. That incident resulted in a Purple Heart.

Doctors spent two years, and 16 surgeries, rebuilding his jaw with titanium.  After all that, Jensen volunteered for a second combat tour, this time in Afghanistan.  Six months into his tour, he fell while running to a gun post and again broke his jaw. Doctors did their best to patch him up, but half of Jensen’s face was permanently numb, and he lost his remaining teeth. He felt he’d had enough. Soon, he was transferred to the Warrior Transition Unit, a special unit in Fort Carson, Colo., set up to help wounded active-duty soldiers heal and transition into civilian life.

Once there, WTU commanders seemed bent on getting rid of him. He said they wrote him up for minor infractions, like showing up late to a medical appointment, or making an incomplete stop at a stop sign. Then, on a routine urine test, Jensen came up positive for amphetamines. He had been prescribed the decongestant pseudoephedrine and narcotics for his injuries, which can cause a false positive, so he asked to be re-tested. Instead, WTU commanders told him they were kicking him out of the Army for what they called a pattern of misconduct.

Not only did the Army want to discharge him without benefits like unemployment or access to GI Bill money, said Jensen, they also wanted to give him a discharge that was other than “honorable.” That would likely keep him from getting any benefits for the rest of his life.

“They looked at me and told me that I didn’t deserve to wear the uniform now, nor did I ever deserve to wear it,” Jensen said. “And that I was a disgrace and I should be ashamed of myself for letting my family down and my wife, and everyone else.”

There are many stories just like Jensen’s, of soldiers being ‘Chaptered Out.’  Soldiers may be discharged for reasons ranging anywhere from tardiness to substance abuse and more serious crimes.  Many soldiers being chaptered out have been diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, both of which can influence behavior and judgment.

“If they kick out these soldiers in a way that they get anything other than honorable discharge, then they don’t automatically qualify for the VA [federal benefits for veterans],”  said Dave Philipps, a reporter from the Colorado Springs Gazette. “They get their education benefits taken away. They can’t even apply for unemployment. And so, they’re really left with nothing.”

Philipps said that the number of soldiers getting kicked out for misconduct has gone up every year since the war in Iraq began.  Since 2006, 76,000 soldiers have been chaptered out, Philipps calculates.  Veterans who fought for our country, received physical and mental injuries from that service, are being denied benefits because of effects from their sicknesses.  But it gets worse.

A troubling pattern is showing up with discharging soldiers.  Medically discharging a wounded soldier can take up to 14 months, and a commander cannot get a replacement soldier fit and ready for combat until the process is complete.  These soldiers might be considered a burden on these units, taking up a valuable position. For Philipps, the math is simple.

“These commanders are stuck in this position where if they try to get them out medically, they are still stuck with them, maybe for a long time,” he said. “If they decide to kick them out for misconduct instead, they could be out in weeks.”

Commanders at Fort Carson gave a statement saying that “The Army does not and will never discharge soldiers to avoid providing medical care and benefits,” but an insider from the US Army Medical Command confirmed that some wounded soldiers are being targeted for misconduct discharges in order to get them out of service more quickly.

“The soldier, they may be a combat veteran. They’re not as sharp as they used to be. They want to get rid of them. The easiest way is chapter,” the insider, who wants his identity protected, said.

The problem at hand is a dysfunctional medical discharge policy that gives commanding officers the incentive to chapter out injured soldiers.  It’s a real problem, and it’s affecting some of our nation’s greatest heroes.

Veteran Education Benefits Increase, VA Bonuses Decrease

A bill that would expand veterans’ educational benefits and end bonuses for all of the senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs was unanimously passed in the House this last week. The bonuses which are due to be cut would be cut for five years.

Approved on Monday, February 3, the measure was introduced over a year ago by Rep. Jeff Miller, from Florida, and Rep. Mike Michaud, from Maine.  The two representatives head the House Veterans Affairs Committee when they created the bill. It would require all schools eligible for GI Bill benefits, regardless of where those individuals have actually established residence, to give veterans in-state tuition rates, saving the veteran thousands of dollars in tuition.  If, for any reason, the public university would not charge veterans in-state tuition rates, they would have to face a financial penalty.

Originally, Congress intended for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan era to receive free schooling from a public school of their choice.  For the most part, it was successful.  But on occasion, as soon as the veteran returns to normal life, they move into a new state and find that the federal government’s reimbursement to colleges won’t fully cover the higher tuition rates that generally apply to students who come from out of state.

According to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the recently passed legislation has a projected savings of $18 million over the period when bonuses will be eliminated for VA executives.  The elimination of those bonuses is currently set to be during fiscal years 2014 through 2018.

On top of making all GI Bill benefits in-state tuition and taking away bonuses for leaders in the VA, the bill includes other provisions that would extend the VA’s work-study program through 2018 and increase the time frame for veterans to use their vocational rehabilitation benefits from 12 years to 17 years, among other measures.

The representative who led the House floor debate on the legislation, Rep. Mark Takano from California, said last Wednesday that the measure gives lawmakers a chance to help veterans transition out of their military lives.  In a statement Wednesday, he said, “Too often, our veterans have difficulty reintegrating back in civilian life, and Congress should be doing all that it can to make things easier for our heroes.”

Despite a longstanding backlog of disability claims, the VA has been known to and has taken fire for paying large bonuses to its senior officials. On top of that, a federal watchdog report said that the department awarded bonuses to most of its doctors and dentists despite lacking reasonable assurances that the extra pay was linked to performance.  In fact, one of the more well known instances of the VA awarding those who did not do their job was revealed in a CBS report last year.  In the report, it was revealed that the VA awarded $63,000 in performance pay to one of its regional directors shortly after a probe had determined that his medical centers had failed to prevent an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.

While many agree that the right direction was to cut the bonuses for the VA’s senior staff, as was evidenced by a unanimous vote, the Senior Executives Association has warned of the consequences that could follow with the passing of this bill.  They warned that cutting the bonuses for VA’s top leaders could cause those employees to seek work in the private sector or with other agencies, in which they could potentially earn a higher salary and more money.  The Senior Executives Association’s president, Carol Bonosaro, said in a letter to Miller and Michaud last year that the federal government’s senior executives are by and large hard-working and effective managers who deserve their bonuses.

“To the extent that there are actual instances of senior executives engaging in misconduct or sub-par performance and still receiving awards, it is the rare exception rather than the norm,” Bonosaro said.  She also added that agencies can take action against those who abuse their positions or fail to meet certain expectations.

On Wednesday, the association released a statement saying the hold on bonuses “sends a negative message to VA senior executives that their work is not valued and that the pay-for-performance system is broken; further, it ties the hands of VA leadership, which would be severely limited in its ability to recognize stellar performance.

 

State of Ohio- Veteran Benefits

Employment Benefits

Does the State of Ohio offer Employment Benefits to Veterans?

Yes. The State Ohio offers Veterans a Public Employment Preference through a 20%

added credit on the Ohio civil servant exam. To be eligible, Veterans must be honorably

discharged from active service or transferred to a Reserve position.

Does the State of Ohio assist Veterans in finding employment?

Yes. The State of Ohio operates numerous One-Stop resource centers throughout the

state where assistance for Veterans and other job seekers is offered. Some of the

services offered include:

• Assistance with resume writing

• Use of computers, printers, telephones and fax machines

• Job market information and current postings

• Work readiness workshops

To find the One-Stop Resource Center closest to you, click here.

Does the State of Ohio offer special programs for Veterans with Disabilities?

Yes. The Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, a state agency, assists people with

disabilities to secure and retain suitable employment. If it is determined a person’s

disabilities prevent them from working, the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD)

helps determine eligibility for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security

Income.

Education Benefits

Does the State of Ohio offer any Education Benefits to Veterans?

The State of Ohio does not offer specific Education Benefits to Veterans of the United

States Armed Forces or United States Reserves. However, Ohio residents with a high

school diploma or GED certificate who enlist, re-enlist or extend their current

commitment to the Ohio National Guard for a total of six years are eligible to receive

100% tuition at state-assisted colleges and universities for eight (8) full-time semesters

or 100% of the average tuition of all state universities at approved private institutions of

higher education.

Does the State of Ohio offer Education Benefits to Dependents of Veterans?

Yes. The State of Ohio offers the following Education Benefits to dependents of

Veterans:

Ohio War Orphans Scholarship: Children of deceased of severely disabled Ohio

Veterans who served in the Armed Forces during a period of declared war or conflict

may receive tuition assistance at Ohio State colleges or universities. To be eligible,

applicants must be under the age of 25, an Ohio resident, and enrolled full-time at an

eligible Ohio college or university. Applications are due by July 1 of each year.

MIA/POW Orphans Scholarship: Children of members of the Armed Forces Missingin-

Action or taken as Prisoners-of-War may be eligible to receive tuition, general fees,

lab fees, and reasonable expenses for room and board and books for up to four years of

undergraduate academic education. To be eligible, applicants must be an Ohio resident

for 12 months prior to application (if parent does not meet residency requirement, at

least five years prior to application), must be be between the ages of 16-21, and attend

an eligible Ohio college or university or eligible non-profit institution.

Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund: Children and spouses of peace

officers, fire fighters or other safety officers killed in the line-of-duty anywhere in the

United States are provided tuition assistance through the Ohio Safety Officers College

Memorial Fund. In addition, children and spouses of members of the United States

Armed Forces who were killed while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation

Iraqi Freedom or any other combat zone designated by the President of the United

States may also received tuition assistance through this fund. To be eligible, applicants

must not be eligible for the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship and must be an Ohio

resident. Tuition is provided for up to 10 semesters or 15 semesters (up to five years or

until bachelor’s degree is completed).

Other State of Ohio Veteran Benefits

Assistance for Veterans in Need

Counties throughout the State of Ohio offer various types of assistance to Veterans in

need. Many provide transportation to local VA facilities, food vouchers, rent and utility

assistance, and support in applying for VA benefits. A Veteran must have a copy of their

DD-214 and other household bills and proof of income to determine eligibility. Contact

your local County Veterans Service Office to learn more about the services available in

your area.

Long-Term Care

Honorably discharged Veterans who have been a resident of Ohio for at least one year,

served on active duty during a time of war or armed conflict or are the recipient of

certain service medals, and are disabled and otherwise incapable of earning a living are

eligible for admission to one of Ohio’s Veterans Homes. The Ohio Veterans Home

Agency offers the following facilities to Veterans and their eligible spouses:

Sandusky Home Established in 1888 to care for Veterans of the Civil War, the

Sandusky Home is located near Lake Erie and offers a 427-bed nursing home facility.

Two levels of care are offered for Veterans: Standard care for Veterans in need of

intermediate level of care and specialized care for Veterans with Alzheimer’s disease

and other types of dementia.

Sandusky Domiciliary The Sandusky Domiciliary offers individual rooms with cable

access and a shared bath to eligible Veterans in need of medical care, but are able to

live independently. The Domiciliary features 293 beds, a dining facility, two reading

lounges, a computer lounge, recreational facilities, clubs, activities and necessary

medical care for eligible veterans.

Georgetown Home Established in 2003 in the scenic countryside of Brown County,

Georgetown Home offers two levels of care for Veterans: Standard care for Veterans in

need of intermediate level care and specialized care for Veterans with Alzheimer’s

disease and other types of dementia. The Georgetown Home nursing home facility

features 168 beds, including a 21-bed hospice unit.

First Time Homebuyer

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) offers a Veteran’s and Hero Program to

service members of the Armed Forces. The OHFA Veterans Program allows for fixed

rate financing in households where at least one member served in the armed forces. To

qualify, applicants must be within income and home purchase price limits. With the

OHFA Heroes Product, a Homebuyer receives the benefits of the OHFA Veterans

Program at a .25% lower interest rate. The OHFA Heroes Product is available to

creditworthy, qualified Veterans, or active duty/ active reserve members of the United

States Armed Forces.

Burial Benefits

Burial benefits are available to eligible Veterans. Contact your local County Veteran

Service Officer to see what benefits are available in your region. The Veterans

Administration (VA) offers a gravesite at any of its 120 national cemeteries, the opening

and closing of the grave, lifetime care, headstone or marker, grave liner, burial flag, and

a Presidential Memorial Certificate at no charge to the family. Deceased Veterans who

were receiving VA benefits are eligible for a $300 plot allowance and $300 burial and

funeral expenses. Veterans who died of service-related causes are eligible to receive a

$2000 burial allowance from the VA.

OHIOCARES

While the Veterans Administration is the primary source of services for Veterans and

their families, OHIOCARES is a collaboration of state and local agencies to support the

behavioral health of returning Veterans and their families and identifies community

resources available to Veterans and their families. For more information, see

OHIOCARES.

Veterans License Plates

Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) offers numerous specialty plates for honorably

discharged Veterans. Visit the Ohio BMV website to learn more.

Homestead Exemption

The Homestead Exemption allows permanently and totally disabled residents of Ohio

the ability to shield up to $25,000 of the market value of their homestead (up to one acre

of land and their dwelling), regardless of applicant’s age. Homeowners 65 years and

older and surviving spouses of qualified homeowners are also eligible for the

exemption. Typical savings is $400 a year and applications must be completed and

turned in after the first monday in January and before the first monday in June.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Members of the United States Armed Forces on active duty are not required to have

hunting or fishing licenses while on leave or furlough in the State of Ohio. In addition,

Veterans who are former Prisoners-of-War or are 100% service-connected disabled are

eligible to apply for free hunting and fishing licenses through the Division of Wildlife.

Ohio State Parks

Ohio residents who are honorably discharged Veterans and 100% disabled as

determined by the Veterans Administration or are former Prisoners-of-War are entitled to

camp in Ohio’s state parks at no charge.

Watercraft Registration

Honorably discharged Veterans who are 100% service-connected disabled or receiving

a disability pension from the VA, Medal of Honor recipients or former Prisoners-of-War

are eligible for free watercraft registration in the State of Ohio.

Ohio Veterans Bonus

The Ohio Veterans Bonus Program provides a tax-free bonus of $100 for each month

spent on active duty service between August 2, 1990 and March 3, 1991 or any time

after October 7, 2001 in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan or Iraq for a maximum of $1000.

Veterans who served in different areas are eligible to receive $50 for each month of

active duty service for a maximum $500. If a service member lost their life during these

conflicts, their family members are eligible to receive a benefit of $5,000, in addition to

the benefit the deceased Veteran would have received. If a service member is Missing-

In-Action or a Prisoner-of-War, their family may also be eligible for the $5,000 benefit.

State of Colorado- Veteran Benefits

Employment Benefits

 

Does the State of Colorado offer Employment Benefits to Veterans?

The State of Colorado offers Civil Service Rights to Veterans interested in State

employment by adding 5 points to a Veteran’s or 10 points to a disabled Veteran’s final

passing score. This preference is granted in city and county governments that have a

“Merit System” in place.

In order to receive their 10 point employment preference, disabled Veterans must

provide a public employment preference letter which can be obtained from the Colorado

Division of Veteran Affairs and can be ordered by calling 303-284-6077.

Can my Spouse use my Preference if I am unable to work?

Yes. If a veteran is unable to work due to a service-connected disability, their spouse

may utilize their ten-point preference. Certain deceased veteran’s unmarried widow/

widower or the mother of a veteran who was killed or permanently and totally disabled

in the service are also eligible to use their veteran’s preference.

Does the State of Colorado assist Veterans in finding employment?

Yes. The State of Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment has 79 One Stop

Workforce Centers which are staffed with Disabled Veteran Outreach Person (DVOP)

and Local Veteran Employment Representatives (LVER) throughout the State to assist

Veteran’s in their employment search.

In addition, a VA Job Club is also held at the Denver VA Medical Center every 3rd

Thursday of the month from 9:00 am to 11:00 am in Building C, Room 111. For more

information or to attend the club, please contact:

Denver VA Medical Center

VA Job Club

1055 Clairmont Street

Denver, CO

(303) 399-8020

 

Education Benefits

 

Does the State of Colorado offer Education Benefits to Veterans?

The State of Colorado does not offer any Education Benefits to Veterans of the United

Stated Armed Forces or the United States Armed Forces Reserves. Reduced or free

tuition at certain State Institutions of post-secondary education is only available to

members of the Colorado National Guard and is granted at one year of Education

Benefits for every 2 years of service. There are no Education Benefits available to

members of the Colorado National Guard Reserves.

Does the State of Colorado offer Education Benefits to Dependents of Veterans?

The State of Colorado does not offer any Education Benefits to dependents of the

United Stated Armed Forces, the United States Armed Forces Reserves or the Colorado

National Guard Reserves. Children of Veterans of the Colorado National Guard who do

not qualify for Federal Education benefits, may be eligible to free tuition at certain State

Institutions of post-secondary education if the Veteran was killed or permanently

disabled, taken as prisoner of war, or missing in action while serving on State active

duty.

Does the State of Colorado offer Honorary High School Diplomas to Veterans?

Yes. The State of Colorado is authorized through its Operation Recognition program to

award high school diplomas to qualified Veterans. A qualified Veteran must have served

in the Korean, Vietnam or WWII war and received an honorable discharge, left school

before graduating to serve in the United States Armed Forces, is at least 60 years old,

and resided within the school district upon leaving to serve in the armed forces and

resides in the school district at time of application. A family member of the Veteran may

request the diploma posthumously.

To apply for a diploma, complete the Operation Recognition Application and return with

a copy of Veteran’s Honorably Discharged letter.

 

Other State of Colorado Veteran Benefits

 

Long-Term Care

The State of Colorado has the five long-term care facilities located throughout the State.

These facilities are located in Aurora, Florence, Monte Vista, Rifle and Walsenburg. All

locations provide long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, memory care services, shortterm

“respite” care, and end-of-life/hospice services. Domiciliary cottages are available

at the Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake (Monte Vista) location.

Honorably discharged Veterans and spouses or widows are eligible to stay at

Colorado’s State Nursing Homes. “Gold-Star Parents” (non-veterans whose child died

while serving in the Armed Forces) are also eligible for long-term care at Colorado’s

Veterans Nursing Homes.

Cemetery Services

The State of Colorado opened the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado

on September 5, 2002. It was created as a dignified resting place for Colorado with a

creek running through the property and memorial walks, benches and landscaped areas

throughout. Eligibility for burial is the same as national cemeteries for the Department

of Veterans Affairs, but includes a residency requirement. There is NO CHARGE for

internment in the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado. Services include

a gravesite or niche, opening and closing of gravesite or niche, a granite marker with

approved inscriptions, a concrete vault or grave liner, use of Committal Shelter or Visitor

Center, and perpetual care of gravesite or niche.

Veterans License Plates

Disabled Veteran License Plates are available to honorably discharged Veterans with a

service-connected, permanent disability rating of 50% or greater. A completed Disabled

Veteran License Plate Application, along with the Veteran’s DD-214, disability rating,

current registration or title receipt, and proof of emissions, safety and insurance can be

submitted in person at the local Department of Motor Vehicles, or via mail to:

Colorado Department of Revenue Division

Motor Vehicle Registration

Denver, CO 80214

Branch and Award Specific Plates are also available for eligible Veterans at the

Department of Motor Vehicles.

State Parks

Veterans with a Disabled Veterans License Plate or a letter documenting their servicerelated

disability of 50% or greater are given free admission to any state park or

recreation area and granted discounts at campgrounds.

Real Estate Tax Exemption

The State of Colorado offers a property tax exemption of 50% of the first $200,000

value of a disabled Veteran’s primary residence. To qualify, a Veteran must be rated at

100% permanently and totally disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and

must have lived at the primary residence as of January 1st. To apply, contact the

Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs at 303-284-6077 or fax a Tax Exemption

Application to the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs at 303-284-3163.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Resident Veterans with a service-connected disability of 60% or more are granted

lifetime small-game hunting and fishing licenses at no charge. Members of the Armed

Forces who are resident patients at a military hospital or convalescent, or a resident

patient at a Veterans Hospital located in the State of Colorado are granted fishing

licenses at no charge. To apply, submit a completed Parks and Wildlife Application to

the Division of Parks and Wildlife, along with a copy of disability letter.

There Is No Time Like the Present

I had a great neighbor, an older gentleman, who always seemed to get things done in record time. While I was still trying to decide what to do, he was already doing. We often talked over the fence and one of his favorite sayings was, “there is no time like the present.

In the spirit of taking wise action now, here are five good reasons why you should take advantage of your VA home mortgage loan entitlement:

  • Reason #1: Veterans, active duty and certain surviving spouses are eligible for VA home loan benefits. Qualified surviving spouses may borrow up to $417,000 (more in high-cost counties) with no money down.  Surviving spouses are exempt from paying the VA funding fee.
  • Reason # 2: VA home loans can be used to purchase foreclosed and short-sale properties, often with little or no money down. VA-eligible borrowers possess an advantage over those who need up to 20% cash down to qualify for conventional loans. Work through a VA appraiser who is trained to certify value and safety. He will be able to steer you away from problem properties that are not a good investment.
  • Reason # 3: If you are currently deployed overseas, you can sign a power of attorney or (POA) designating your spouse or someone else to act in your behalf for a VA home loan. The POA grants permission for the attorney in fact to sign on behalf of the VA-eligible borrower.  The service member must give intent to obtain a VA loan through an email, letter, or other written notification. Only a spouse can satisfy the occupancy rule (move in within 60 days of closing) in a deployed serviceperson’s stead. Otherwise, the borrower serving away from home is granted an extension of up to 12 months to occupy the home.
  • Reason # 4: There are knowledgeable specialists who can help you get the facts. You should not trust a real estate as a reliable source for VA loan information.  A VA specialty lender, one whose majority product is VA-backed loans, can provide reliable VA mortgage lending facts.
  • Reason # 5: If a lender is specialized in VA home loans, then closing can often happen within 30 days. The VA-approved lender is given flexibility to decide on its own whether a borrower is a satisfactory credit risk.  Oftentimes a borrower with extenuating circumstances can close quickly.

Where do I Start?

Your quest for a VA home loan starts with a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). You are required to obtain a COE to pursue a VA mortgage loan. If you do not have this certificate, you will need to apply using VA Form 26-1880 (which requires a copy of DD-214—your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty showing character of service). Along with the COE, you will need to document your credit, savings, and employment information to apply for a VA home loan.

Why get a Military Home Loan?

Simply put, there are distinct financial advantages to do so. A  VA Home Loan allows qualified buyers the opportunity to purchase a home with no down payment. There are also no monthly mortgage insurance premiums to pay, limitations on buyer’s closing costs, and an appraisal that informs the buyer of the property value. For most loans on new houses, construction is inspected at appropriate stages and a 1-year warranty is required from the builder. VA also performs personal loan servicing and offers financial counseling to help veterans having temporary financial difficulties.

I’ve Already Used My VA Loan Eligibility

You can have previously-used entitlement “restored” one time only to purchase another home with a VA loan if the borrower has paid off the prior loan but still owns the property, and wants to use his entitlement. This often occurs with active duty borrowers who transfer to a new station but want to keep their existing home for retirement. However if the prior loan has been paid off, AND the property is no longer owned, they can have their entitlement restored as many times as they want.  They can re-use their VA eligibility for every home purchase from the first to the last.

A veteran’s maximum entitlement is $89,912, and lenders will generally loan up to four times your available entitlement without a down payment, provided your income and credit qualifications are fine, and the property appraises for the asking price.

Remember, there is no time like the present!

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

State of Virginia Veteran Benefits

Employment Benefits

Does the State of Virginia offer Employment Benefits to Veterans?

The State of Virginia has a Priority of Service for Veterans and Eligible Spouses program. Through this program, Veterans and their eligible spouses receive priority for employment, training and placement services for any qualified Department of Labor employment or job-training programs.

Who is an Eligible Spouse?

An eligible spouse is the spouse of a Veteran who is totally disabled or died as a resultof a service connected disability, or has been listed for at least 90 days as missing inaction, captured in the line of duty, or forcibly detained in the line of duty by a foreigngovernment at the time of application.

Does the State of Virginia assist Veterans in finding employment?

Yes. Most of the Virginia Employment Commissionʼs (VEC) local offices provideVeterans Employment Representatives and Disabled Veterans Outreach Program staffto assist Veterans and eligible spouses in finding jobs and meeting their career goals.Some of the services offered include:

  • Career and job counseling
  • Education and training recommendations
  • Resume preparation
  • Assistance tailoring skills and abilities to available jobs
  • Expanded job search through the use of the internet
  • Referrals for social service and family support
  • Developing employment opportunities for veterans with employment barriers

 

Education Benefits

Does the State of Virginia offer Education Benefits to Veterans?

No. The State of Virginia currently offers benefits only to survivors and dependents ofservice members through the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program.

What is the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program?

The Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP) waives tuition and fees for up to four years at any state-supported College or University todependents of military service members who were taken as prisoners of war, missing inaction, killed in the line of duty, or became at least 90 percent disabled as a result oftheir service in an armed conflict. Depending on funding, a stipend to offset the costs ofroom, board, books and supplies may also be available.

Are there any Education Benefits available for survivors of Virginia NationalGuard or Reserve service members?

Yes. Survivors of service members of the United Stated Armed Forces, the UnitedStates Armed Forces Reserves, the Virginia National Guard or the Virginia NationalGuard Reserves are all eligible for the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program.

Are there any age restrictions for dependents to participate in the Virginia MilitarySurvivors and Dependents Education Program?

There are no age restrictions for surviving spouses to participate in the program.However, dependent children must be between the ages of 16 and 29 to be eligible toparticipate in the program.

Can only Residents of Virginia participate in the Virginia Military Survivors andDependents Education Program?

Yes. A service member must have been a Virginia citizen when they entered the serviceor must have been a citizen for a minimum of 5 years immediately prior to the date ofapplication for admission. A surviving spouse must have lived in Virginia for at least 5years prior to marrying the service member or must have been a citizen for a minimum of 5 years immediately prior to the date of application for admission.

How do I apply for benefits under the Virginia Military Survivors and DependentsEducation Program?

Complete the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program Application and submit it to:

VMSDE Program1351 Hershberger Road, N.W.Suite 220 Roanoke, VA 24012Phone: (540) 561-6625Fax: (540) 857-7573

More information on the the VMSDE program can be found here: VMSDEP FAQs

Does the State of Virginia offer Honorary High School Diplomas to Veterans?

Yes. Veterans who were unable to complete their high school education due to service in the armed forces during the Vietnam War, Korean War or World War II are eligible to receive an honorary diploma.

How can I receive an Honorary Diploma?

To receive an Honorary Diploma, Veterans, or family members or veteransʼ organizations in the Veteranʼs behalf, need to submit a statement to the Veterans Education Unit of the Virginia Department of Education with a description of their service, the location and name of the last school attended, and a statement that they were unable to complete high school when they returned to civilian life. The statements or a completed Veteran Honorary High School Diploma Form(PDF)  can be sent to:

Veterans Honorary High School Diploma Program  Virginia Department of Education  P.O. Box 2120  Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120

Other State of Virginia Benefits

Virginia Wounded Warrior Program

The Virginia General Assembly created the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program in 2008to make certain that services needed by Veterans and their families were readily available throughout the state.

The VWWP, operated by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, places a specialemphasis on providing services to Veterans and families of Veterans who have beenaffected by stress related conditions or traumatic brain injuries as a result of their military service. The VWWP “monitors and coordinates behavioral health and rehabilitative services and support services through an integrated, comprehensive andresponsive public and private partnership.”

The VWWP provides an individual assessment of the Veteran and their family todetermine their needs and then provides services as needed. These services include:

  • Support Groups for Veteran and Family Members
  • Behavioral Healthcare
  • Resource Specialists and Counseling
  • Veterans Benefits Assistance
  • Employment and Housing Assistance
  • Reentry Assistance for Incarcerated Veterans

 

Any Veteran who is a resident of Virginia may participate in the Virginia WoundedWarrior Program. Members of the Virginia National Guard or Armed Forces not in aactive federal service, and their families, are also eligible to participate in the program.

Long Term Care

The State of Virginia has the following long-term care facilities available for Veterans:

Virginia Veterans Care Center (VVCC)-The VVCC is a state-of-the-art facility with 240beds that provides comprehensive, high quality care. Physical therapy, x-rays,laboratory work, podiatry care and many other ancillary health care services areprovided on-site. In addition, the building and grounds offer wheelchair accessiblenature trails and deck, chapel, library, billiards room, and barber shop all nestled in theBlue Ridge mountainside. Honorably discharged Veterans of the United Stated ArmedForces who are residents of the State of Virginia are eligible for admittance.

Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care CenterThis facility is located in Richmond, Virginia onthe campus of the McGuire VA Medical Center. The facility features 160 single-occupancy rooms in three nursing units- one 40-bed Alzheimerʼs dementia unit with enclosed courtyards and two 60-bed skilled nursing care units. The amenities featuredat this facility include private rooms with private baths, barber shop, pharmacy, activity rooms, lounges, library, game room, computers with internet access, walking trails andlandscaped inner courtyards. Honorably discharged Veterans of the United States Armed Forces who are residents of the State of Virginia and meet medical requirementsfor nursing home care are eligible for admittance.

Veterans ID Card

Hundreds of Virginia businesses offer discounts to Veterans carrying a valid ID. There are five different ways a Veteran can apply for a Veterans ID Card: (1) at their localDMV customer service center, (2) at a DMV 2 Go mobile office, (3) online at www.dmvNOW.com, (4) by U.S. mail: P.O. Box 27412, Richmond, VA 23269-0001, or

(5) by Fax: (801) 367-1112. There is a $10 DMV application fee and your VirginiaVeterans ID card never expires. You will need a copy of your DD-214 and must have avalid Virginia driverʼs license or ID card to apply.

Cemetery Services

The State of Virginia has three state cemeteries- Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia,Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, and Southwest VirginiaVeterans Cemetery in Dublin. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who die on active duty, retire from military service or are honorably discharged are eligible for burial in oneof Virginiaʼs Veterans cemeteries. Legal spouses and/or unmarried minor childrenunder age 21 are also eligible for burial services. Services include an assignedgravesite, opening and closing the grave, and ordering and placing the grave marker.There is no cost to the Veteran for these services. The cost is $300 for eligibledependents.

Troops to Trucks

Through the Virginia Troops to Trucks program, qualified military personnel applying for a Virginia commercial driverʼs license (CDL) are able to waive the skills test and are onlyrequired to pass the the written CDL knowledge exam. This streamlines the process and eliminates the need for service men and women to provide a commercial vehicle forthe skills test. To qualify, applicants must:

  • Be a Virginia resident currently holding or eligible for a Virginia driverʼs license
  • Be active military or discharged within the past 90 days,
  • Be certified by their commanding officer that they posses a military operatorʼs permit and have at least two years experience driving the same type of vehiclethey plan to drive with a Virginia CDL, and
  • Possess a safe driving record

 

Military members who are interested in obtaining a CDL but lack experience operatingheavy vehicles may receive their CDL training and testing on their military base prior to leaving the service. The DMV has partnered with a number military installations toprovide this necessary training. The DMV also works with various organizations toassist those who obtain their CDL through the Virginia Troops to Trucks program find employment opportunities. For more information, see the Virginia Troops to Trucks  brochure.

Real Estate Tax Exemption

Veterans who are rated 100% by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for apermanent and total service-connected disability or have a service-connectedunemployable rating are exempt from paying any real estate taxes on their primary residence. The exemption applies to the Veteranʼs primary residence and up to one acre of land. If the Veteran died after January 1, 2011, the surviving spouse of aneligible veteran may receive the exemption if they do not remarry and continue tooccupy the property as their primary residence.

Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Licenses

Resident Veterans of Virginia with a permanent and total service-connected disability are eligible to receive a life-time hunting and fresh water fishing license and a life-timetrapping license through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Eachlicense costs $10. Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70% or greater may purchase basic hunting licenses at half price. Non-resident Veterans may purchase the basic hunting license at half of the out-of-state rate.

To Filipino Veterans – Benefits May Be Coming

A bill was just introduced by Senator Heller from Nevada that would allow many Filipino veterans who served alongside American soldiers in World War II to have access to the same healthcare benefits that the American veterans have. Apparently, the issue up to this point has been that there is a scarcity of documentation of many of these veterans’ service. The bill would provide a process to follow for Filipino veterans to prove that they served in World War II and are thus deserving of veteran benefits.

 

Obviously, the exclusion of these brave Filipino veterans from benefits was not intentional or malicious, but rather due to poor record-keeping and an ardent adherence to policy prohibiting benefits being used by any who aren’t verified and documented veterans. However, the issue of overlooked Filipino veterans is not news to the United States Government. The issue has had ample opportunity to crop up over the last seventy years of legislative process. Senator Heller himself originally began working for legislation on the issue nearly a year ago.

 

Essentially, the bill allows Filipino veterans to provide what documentation they have and work directly with military historians to verify their information and find evidence that they were there and fought alongside the US. This will open up a world of options as yet unavailable to Filipino veterans who feel abandoned by the government they so willingly served, since many of them don’t have the standard forms and documentation required for a veteran to prove that he or she is entitled to veteran benefits.

 

This sort of reform brings hope to veterans everywhere who have felt short-changed or cheated when it came time for the government to pay the piper. We can hope that as awareness of issues like these continues to rise, that more legislation will be passed that will assist veterans in not only taking advantage of their benefits but also in proving that they qualify for the benefits they deserve. Technological advances and better record-keeping practices are improving the situation of new generations of veterans, and hopefully raising awareness of the condition of previous generations of veterans will lead to reforms in the way of making the lives of those honorable servicemen better.

The Brilliance of Communication

A small town meeting in Missouri was held recently, which had a single purpose: to explain all of the federal and state benefits available to veterans in that area. After a detailed explanation of all of the federal and state benefits, it was opened up for a question and answer session to make sure that everyone knew exactly what benefits were available to them and how to access them. While this kind of meeting isn’t exactly common, it should be the norm.

In June, Virginia will be hosting a seminar for veterans and their families to come and ask questions of several Benefits Counselors and other representatives from various non-profit organizations that help veterans to make sure that all of them have the opportunity to take advantage of all of the benefits that are available to them. The question is, will there be a good turnout? When these sort of events are hosted, do many veterans show up? Do informational meetings and seminars such as these result in increased usage of veteran benefits?

Meetings of this nature tend to get very little publicity. It becomes difficult to spread the word to all those who would like to know about it and none of the people who don’t care. In fact, the author did an experiment googling the phrase “veterans benefits town hall meeting “city name”” and using different cities, and every single one of the 7 the author tried had a result for a meeting that had taken place in that city recently, with the exception of Salt Lake City, whose last one was in 2005. What this tells us is that these sort of meetings happen all the time, but awareness of these meetings varies, and, as a result, the number of attendees varies as well.   The Virginia seminar in June is expected to have a good turnout, as it has the sponsoring of several non-profit organizations that exist to help veterans, and thus has a powerful marketing force working on it’s behalf, but many smaller meetings are often held by request, and don’t even make it onto the city newsletter or website. In these cases, many veterans who have questions about their benefits aren’t able to utilize the informational meeting or seminar any more than they are able to use their benefits.   But, thanks to 21st-century technology, informational town meetings, and seminars are not the only way to learn about veteran benefits available to you.

While it is nice to have an opportunity to sit down with a knowledgeable person and ask them specific questions about your benefits, most if not all questions can be answered by a quick visit to your state’s website. Most questions can also be answered by a call to the VA’s office, where the representative may provide you with a link or perhaps even send you documentation on federal benefits. Questions regarding state benefits available to you can usually be answered by going to the state veterans website (usually something like www.veterans.STATE.gov). Indeed, many of the state websites also have links to federal benefits.

The biggest key in learning exactly what benefits available to you is to simply ask. It is not uncommon for veterans to not want to ask about their benefits for fear of being seen as needy, greedy, or selfish, and it’s important to know that  there is nothing greedy about helping the country keep its end of the bargain. Sometimes that involves asking lots of direct questions to make sure you understand exactly what the country’s end of the bargain entails. Another reason many veterans don’t take advantage of their benefits is they find it more trouble dealing with the VA than the benefits are worth. This is a case where your voice truly matters. Changes only happen when decision-makers are aware of the problems. Be knowledgeable about what benefits are available to you, and if red-tape, bad policies, or just an indifferent customer service representative is standing in the way, solve the problem.   Your benefits are part of the contract between the United States Government and you. You filled your end of the contract, now make it as easy as possible for the government to fulfill its end.

State of Texas- Veterans Benefits

Education Benefits

What is the Hazlewood Act?
The Hazlewood Act or Hazlewood Exemption, is an education benefit specific to the
State of Texas that provides for up to 150 hours of tuition exemption and most related
fees to qualified Texas veterans and to their spouses and dependent children. This
benefit can only be used at public institutions of higher education in the State of Texas.
This benefit does not cover books, living expenses or supply fees.

Does my dependent qualify to receive benefits?
Dependent children of Texas military service members who are currently deployed
outside of the United States and are serving in a combat zone are eligible to use the
benefit for an exemption of tuition only.
A child of a Texas service member who was a dependent at the time any of the following
occurred is eligible for tuition exemption and most fees:
• Service member was killed in the line of duty or dies as a result of an illness or injury
directly related to their military service
• Service member was missing in action
• Service member who receives 100% disability rating as a result of their service and
has a 100% individual unemployable rating by the VA

Does my spouse qualify to receive benefits?
Yes. A legal spouse of a Texas Veteran who was killed in the line of duty, or dies as a
result of an injury, is missing in action or receives a 100% disability rating as a result of
their service is eligible to participate in the Hazlewood Act.

What residency requirements must be met?
In order to be eligible for the Hazlewood Exemption, a Veteran must have been a
resident of Texas when they entered the service, declared Texas as their home of record
in accordance with military guidelines, or entered the service in the State of Texas.
Dependents using benefits under the Hazlewood Act must be classified as residents of
the State of Texas for the term they apply to use the Hazlewood Exemption.

Are members of the Texas National Guard and Texas Air National Guard and their dependents eligible for the Hazlewood Exemption?
Members of the Texas National Guard or Texas Air National Guard are not eligible for
benefits under the Hazlewood Act. However, the Hazlewood Exemption is extended to
dependents of Texas National and Texas Air National Guard members who were killed
in the line of duty or who are completely disabled for purposes of employability by the
Department of Veterans Affairs since January 1, 1946.

Can a Veteran transfer his eligibility to a dependent?
Yes. An eligible Veteran can transfer up to 150 semester credit hours to their dependent
child (biological, stepchild, or adopted child). In order to be eligible, the child must be
25 years or younger on the first day of the semester, must make satisfactory academic
progress in accordance with the institutionʼs policies and must be a resident of the State
of Texas.

Is there a minimum length of service to qualify for benefits under the Hazlewood Act?
Yes. Service members must have completed more than 180 days of active duty
service, excluding training, to qualify for this benefit unless they died in the line of duty
or completed their service prior to the end of the Korean War.

Does the Hazlewood Act cover graduate courses?
Yes. The Hazlewood Act may be used to cover graduate studies for any program of
study at a public institution in the State of Texas as long as the Veteran has not used
150 credit hours under the Hazlewood Act benefits since the Fall of 1995.

Can a Veteran lose their eligibility under the Hazlewood Act?
Yes. Veterans who are in default on any federal education loan or loan guaranteed by
the State of Texas are disqualified from receiving benefits under the Hazlewood Act.

Can a Veteran receive benefits under the Hazlewood Act and Federal education benefits at the same time?
Yes. As long as the Veteran is not receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill they
are eligible to receive both benefits simultaneously if federal benefits do not equal or
exceed the benefit received under the Hazlewood Act.

Property Tax Exemption

Is there a property tax exemption available for Veterans in the State of Texas?
Property tax exemptions are available for disabled veterans who are rated at least 10%
by the Department of Veterans Affairs or a branch of the Armed Forces. The exemption
applies to all taxes levied by tax authorities in the State and is taken from the appraised
value of the Veteranʼs property.

Does a disabled Veteranʼs dependents qualify for a Property Tax Exemption?
If the Veteran dies while serving on Active Duty, their surviving spouse and minor
children qualify for property tax exemption.

How is the exemption rate determined?
The exemption rate a Veteran qualifies for is determined by their disability rating
determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or a branch of the Armed Forces.
The higher the Veteranʼs disability rating, the higher their exemption.

Home Loans

What is the Veteranʼs Land Board (VLB)?
The Veteranʼs Land Board was established in 1946 to administer benefits exclusive to
Texas residents.

What is the Veterans Housing Assistance Program?
The VLB established the Veterans Housing Assistance Program (VHAP) in 1983 to
assists Veterans in purchasing a single family residence for an amount up to $325,000,
with little or no money down at below-market interest rates. The residence must meets
the following requirements:
• Veteranʼs primary residence
• Located in the State of Texas
• Single family attached or detached home, town home or condominium
• Multi-family units such as a duplex must have been constructed at lest 5 years prior to
loan closing
• New construction homes must meet certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
and Energy guidelines

Are there any restrictions when using the VLB Veterans Housing Assistance
Program?
All loans are subject to credit approval. Homes secured using the Veterans Housing
Assistance Program must remain the veterans primary residence for at least three years
and must be occupied within 60 days of the closing the loan.

Are there additional benefits for disabled Veterans?
Yes. Qualified Veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of at least
30% are eligible to receive a reduction of one-half of one percent on the available VLB
interest rate.

Are there an benefits for surviving spouses?
Yes. Unmarried surviving spouses of service members who were Texas residents killed
in the line of duty, are missing in action, or died as a result of a service-connected cause
and had a compensable service-connected disability rating of at least 30%, are eligible
to receive a reduction of one-half percent on the available VLB interest rate.

Can I purchase vacant land or does it have to be a single family residence?
Yes. The VLB has made it possible for Texas Veterans to own their own piece of Texas
through the Veterans Land Loan Program. Through this program, Veterans are able to
purchase land for a minimum of 5% down at below-market interest rates.

What is the Texas Veterans Home Improvement Program (VHIP)?
In 1986 the VHIP was introduced to provide Texas Veterans with below-market interest
rates for improvements and repairs to their existing homes. The VHIP loan can be used
to correct hazardous conditions, repair damage caused by a natural disaster, and
substantially improve the livability or energy efficiency of the residence. Contact the VLB
for a list of eligible and ineligible improvements under the VHIP loan.

Employment Assistance

What Employment Assistance Programs does the State of Texas offer?
The State of Texas offers the following programs to assist Veterans in finding and
securing employment:

Veteranʼs Preference– A wartime Veteran, as well as surviving spouses and orphans of those killed in active duty, have a preference of employment with State agencies and offices. State agencies must practice veteranʼs preference until they have a minimum of 40% veteran employment. Non-retired veterans employed by the State of Texas are able to claim up to 60 months of their military service towards retirement by contributing to the Retirement System for the amount of time they are claiming.

Priority of Service- Veterans and their qualified spouses are given priority over non-veterans in obtaining services for full employment, training and placement. Visit your nearest Workforce Center to take advantages of these benefits you earned.

Skills for Veterans- This initiative by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) provides funding to eligible businesses who hire post-9/11 veterans. Through this program, Veterans hired by participating employers will receive up to $1,450 to be used for job specific training over a 12-month period.

Re-Employment Rights- Veterans who were employed prior to military services are entitled to reemployment rights provided their absence from employment was not greater than four years.

Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program- The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program is available to service members, veterans and eligible dependents. This program is free and offers educational and vocational counseling to help an individual select, plan for and achieve their career goal.
VA Claims Assistance

Where can I get help submitting my claim for Veteran benefits?
The Texas Veterans Commission was established for the sole purpose of assisting
veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents in filing VA disability claims, including
VA appeals. The State of Texas provides expert counselors to veterans and their
families and leads all other large states in the monetary recovery of the compensation
and pension benefits due veterans.

Other Benefits

Are there are any other benefits offered in the State of Texas to Veterans?
The State of Texas offers many benefits to Veterans. Some of these additional benefits
include:

State Veterans Nursing Home- Skilled nursing home care is provided for Texas
veterans, their spouses, and some parents. Daily out-of-pocket rates are well below
average at a VLB Texas State Veterans Home since the VA subsidizes a a large portion
of the Veteranʼs cost.

Fishing and Hunting Licenses for Disabled Veterans- Disabled Veterans with a
qualify service rating are eligible to purchase fishing and hunting licenses at a discount.

Free Drivers License for Disabled Veterans- Veterans with a qualifying service connected disability are provided a Texas drivers license at no cost.

Free State Park Admission for Disabled Veterans- Veterans with qualifying service connected disabilities receive free admission to Texas State Parks through the State Parklands Passport.

Specialty License Plates- Speciality license plates, including Medal of Honor, Purple
Heart, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Former Prisoner of War and Disabled Veteran are
available to Veterans through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Burial Benefits- The Texas Veterans Land Board operates cemeteries in the cities of
Abilene, Killeen and Mission. Corpus Christi has also been selected as a future site.
Texas State cemeteries are available for veterans and their eligible dependents

History of the VA Loan

A VA loan is a mortgage loan that is guaranteed by the US Departments of Veterans Affairs. The VA loan program assists Veterans who have served in the armed services become homeowners. The basic intention of the VA direct home loan program is to supply home financing to eligible veterans in areas where private financing is not generally available and to help veterans purchase properties with no down payment.

The Current VA loan mortgage is a byproduct of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, more commonly called the GI Bill of Rights, which was passed by Congress in 1944. Harry W. Colmery, a World War I Veteran, wrote the first draft of the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill provided college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans, one-year compensation for out of work veterans and also provided different loan types to Veterans to buy homes or start a business. The G.I. bill provided low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen. The G.I. bill was created to prevent a repetition of the Bonus March of 1932, in which World War I Veterans marched on Washington DC demanding payments of their World War I bonuses. The Bonus March was dispersed by the army and the Veterans were not paid.

The G.I. Bill is considered one o the most significant pieces of legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress. The education benefits opened College education to the masses, in 1947, veterans made up almost half of the nation’s college students. It allowed millions of families to purchase their first homes and moved many families out of urban apartments and into suburban homes and resulted in the suburbanization of the American in the 1950’s and the postwar baby boom. Prior to the war, suburbs tended to be the homes of the wealthy and upper class. The G.I. bill effectively created the American middle class that we know today.

The Success of the 1944 G.I. bill prompted the government to offer similar measures to later generations of Veterans. The Veterans Adjustment Act of 1952 offered veterans of the Korean Conflict that served for more than 90 days, similar benefits that were offered through the G.I. Bill. These bills eventually lead to the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966. Whereas the G.I. Bill of 1944 and 1952 compensated veterans of wartime service, the new bill extended benefits to Veterans who served in war and peace.

Further acts were passed in Congress in following years. The Veterans Housing Act of 1970 removed all termination dates for applying for VA housing loan and also provided VA loans for mobile homes. The Veterans Housing Benefits Improvement Act of 1978 expanded and increased previous benefits given to Veterans. In 1992, the VA loan guarantee program was enlarged to include Reservists and National Guard personnel who served honorably for at least six years. In association with the VA’s program, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act protects service members from financial woes on their home loan that may occur as a result of active duty commitments, freezing their interest rates at 6%. These acts have allowed Veterans through the years to buy homes when the might not have been able to on their own.

10 Free Unknown Military Benefits

To serve one’s country demands a sacrifice for which no gift seems sufficient enough reward.

The men and women of our armed services do enjoy certain perks, however, most notably the GI Bill, The VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, and the Veteran Pension and Life Insurance Service. But the perks of service hardly end there. Many veterans and or active duty military personnel would be surprised to learn of the varied and substantial array of benefits, discounts, and non-profit organizations that exist to honor those who serve. The following is a sampling of some of the most interesting.

1. Free Security Alarms for military

Protect Our Troops is an  Organization that installs wireless, two-way voice security systems and provides 24hr monitoring for active duty service persons. With many soldiers stationed in areas requiring communication blackouts or reception issues (as in the mountainous highlands of Afghanistan) knowing their spouses, children and property back home is being monitored can be a great comfort.

 

2. Free Credit Repair Assistance –

www.vacreditsolutions.com Credit Reporting is perhaps the only American institution where you are guilty until proven innocent. Statistics suggest that as much as 70% of all credit reports have errors on them, and as many as 25% contain errors serious enough that would preclude an otherwise qualified borrower from access to credit they deserve. Many veterans are unaware that the burden of contesting this information not only rests on them but that most companies advertising credit repair operate illegally. VA Credit Solutions is a free service designed to assist veterans and active duty military personnel with self-directed credit repair.

 

3. Free Concerts & Sporting Events –

http://www.vettix.org/aboutus.php The Veteran Tickets Foundation is a non-profit distribution entity that collects donations of tickets from individuals, corporations, celebrities, and professional sports teams. These tickets are then distributed to veterans with service-connected disabilities and active duty servicepersons.

 

4. Private Disney World Resort –

http://www.shadesofgreen.org – Shades of Greens is a special resort situated on the Walt Disney World property reserved exclusively for veterans, active duty servicepersons, and their families. In addition to substantial discounts on basic lodging, meal plans and transportation to and from the park, guests of the resort are treated to special activities that honor their military service.

 

5. Free Admission to Theme Parks –

On select days and seasons, veterans and active duty military personnel gain free admission to a host of top tier amusement parks and attractions, including (but not limited to) Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Knotts Berry Farm and many others.

 

6. Free Meals –

Veterans Day is a time for remembering the contribution and sacrifice of those Americans who have served and continue to serve our nation. It’s also a day that, should a vet or active duty soldier find themselves hungry, that a host of popular restaurant chains including Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Krispy Kreme will provide free meals in their honor.

 

7. Free Plastic Surgery –

http://www.capsmi.com/newsEvents/index.html As part of their self-styled “Veteran’s Project” The Center For Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery in Grand Rapids Michigan aims to assist veterans with service-connected disabilities by providing them with free reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries to help ease the psychological and physical scars of wartime violence.

 

8. Tax-Free Plus Discounted Construction & Building Materials –

Lowe’s Home Improvement http://guardianofvalor.com/lowes-and-home-depot-military-and-veteran-discounts-explained/ & The Home Depot 10% Discounts on purchases up to $5000 with both Lowes Home Improvement and The Home Depot on select days throughout the year, most notably on Veteran’s Day Weekend.

 

9. Free Wedding Gowns for Military Brides –

Viva Amore Boutique – dresses-for-military-brides/ For those engaged women either serving in the military or preparing to marry an active-duty soldier, this boutique helps young deserving couples celebrates one of the most important days of their lives in style with a price that’s hard to beat – Free.

 

10. Free Personalized Military Doll for Children of Deployed Soldiers –

Operation Military Kids. This non-profit organization focuses on the war at home fought by the families of deployed soldiers in the absence of their loved ones. OMK provides personalized dolls with real pictures of their parents representing the faces.

 

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