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Today is Veterans Day. A time to remember all those who have served our country, and I want to personally thank our veterans for their service. And as our servicemen and women fulfill their duty and return to civilian life, the ultimate goal for many is to find a good job and buy a home.
One of the best benefits veterans may qualify for to help them buy a home is the VA mortgage that is part of the Veterans Administration benefits for veterans, benefits.va.gov/homeloans. VA home loans are provided by private lenders, and the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide more favorable loan terms.
Lisa Whitman, a mortgage banker with Mortgage 1 Suburban Branch, (800) 440-5626, mortgageone.com, said that those veterans who are eligible can get a VA mortgage loan that requires no down payment and no private mortgage insurance.
“We also have a program at Mortgage 1 called Hometown Heroes that provides veterans with a $500 discount on their closing costs,” Whitman said.
Whitman said in addition to the standard VA mortgages, there are also programs that can provide grants to help with down payments and closing costs to active duty, reserve, National Guard or military veterans who are first-time homebuyers and may need assistance. One such program is the Dream Makers offered by the PenFed Foundation, pentagonfoundation.org.
The amount of the grant is determined by a 2-to-1 match of the borrower’s contribution to their mortgage with a maximum grant of $5,000. The borrower must contribute a minimum of $500. Grant approvals are contingent upon available funding.
But not every veteran is able to buy a home, especially if they just returned from active duty and have not found a job. In many cases, veterans can use their VA educational benefits to go to college or learn a vocation to help them with finding a job after their military service has ended.
“Many of the veterans we see have never applied for any educational benefits, so we walk them through the process of determining which VA benefits they may qualify for and help them apply,” said Pam Paxton-Keehner, veterans services coordinator at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, schoolcraft.edu.
She said that currently there are around 250 veterans who are attending classes at Schoolcraft College, and she has 40 or 50 more each semester that come through her office to get assistance applying for benefits and determining what their educational goals are, such as earning a certificate or associate degree, or taking courses so they can transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Every day veterans return to civilian life and try to find a job and place to live. The good news is that there are programs available to help them when they are in need. Vets Returning Home, (586) 285-5606, vetsreturninghome.org, is one volunteer organization that currently houses 53 veterans at its 11,000-square-foot facility in Roseville. According to founder and executive director Sandra Bower, many of these veterans are in crisis and really need a helping hand.
“Many of our vets were couch surfing just trying to find a place to sleep before they came to us, so we offer them a place to live and help them with applying for any disability benefits they may qualify for,” she said. “We also help them look for jobs or get into training programs, and most of them stay with us up to six months before they transition into an apartment.”
After World War II, returning military personnel spawned a huge building boom that lasted for decades. Today, Vets Returning Home, Dream Makers and others help veterans achieve home ownership.
So today, take a moment and share this information with any veterans you may know.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
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