Military service is undeniably challenging. Long deployments, Permanent Change of Stations, stress stemming from what seems like everything, and of course being away from your family for long periods are just some of the rigors of life in the military. Not to mention the financial adversity commonly experienced by service members. Often, obstacles rooted in money go unacknowledged or completely overlooked. While many of these challenges are unavoidable, there is plenty that can be done when it comes to protecting yourself financially.
Stability is crucial for veterans adjusting to civilian life. Low pay coupled with high debt is the beginning of a very slippery slope for recently discharged vets. Many entitlements exist for service members; however, a divide exists between what’s available and a working knowledge of what’s available on the individual level. Those in the military have options; they just need to know what those options are.
Active duty personnel spend on average $1,725 in moving expenses during a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Reassignment happens frequently, on average every two to four years. Emotionally and financially this can take a huge toll. Did you know that lost, stolen or damaged property is reimbursable by the government? Further protection exists in the form of cheap military renters insurance and auto insurance. Incurred moving costs are also tax deductible.
When compared to FHA loans, the VA Home Loan offers many more advantages to veterans. The guaranteed loan includes low-interest rates, lesser underwriting guidelines, $0 down and 100 percent financing. Advantageously, vets who have experienced prior financial hardships such as short sales, foreclosures and bankruptcy filings may still qualify if they are current on all payments.
These are just a few of the many offerings available to military members. The challenge is making sure those who benefit from this information receive it.
Your length of service or service commitment, duty status and character of service determine your eligibility for specific home loan benefits.
Purchase Loans and Cash-Out Refinance: VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes for your occupancy or a spouse and/or dependent (for active duty service members). To be eligible, you must have satisfactory credit, sufficient income to meet the expected monthly obligations, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Learn More
Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): The IRRRL is a "VA to VA" loan, meaning it can only be done if you have an existing VA guaranteed loan on the property. The IRRRL is generally performed to lower the interest and reduce the monthly payment on the existing VA guaranteed loan. Learn More
Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program: The NADL program helps Native American Veterans purchase, construct, improve, or re-finance a home on Native American trust lands. Your tribal organization must participate in the VA direct loan program. You must have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Learn More
Adapted Housing Grants: VA helps Veterans with certain total and permanent disabilities related to your military service obtain suitable housing with either a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant. Learn More
Student loan debt is a huge problem for military members looking to further their education. Often, educational loans taken out by military personnel are avoidable. The Veterans Education Assistance Act can cover up to the entirety of the tuition for an in-state public university, as well as providing $1,000 in annual supply costs. This benefit can also be used for housing costs in excess of $1,300 a month.
Healthcare related costs are the most prominent cause of bankruptcy in this country. The price of healthcare continues to increase annually; many veterans qualify for government subsidized health care. Those ineligible may still be entitled to discounted coverage.
While not as earth shattering as defrayed healthcare or education costs, many small scale travel and retail benefits are available to service members. Membership with Veterans Advantage provides military members with discounts as high as 10 percent at many major retail outlets. Those who travel frequently can enjoy the advantages of discounted prices. Amtrak, for example, offers a 15 percent discount to veterans.