Transitioning From the Military: Finding the Right Home
For many service members, the thought of leaving the military is bittersweet. No longer will they be separated from loved ones, be shipped from base to base, or have to deal with ambush drills in the middle of the night. All positive reasons to be looking forward to life after the military.
However, on the other hand, these returning soldiers will be separated from the life they have come to know and love, separated from their brothers and sisters in arms, and removed from the daily routine of a US soldier. For some this may mean finding the right home, changing careers, or even going back to school.
Non-Profit Military Assistance Organizations
While some veterans may have trouble re-integrating back into civilian life, they should know there are many programs available to offer support.
Non-profit organizations such as Operation Homefront, Hire Heroes USA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Transition Assistance Program all offer amazing programs to reintegrate our nation’s heroes back into civilian life.
Fortunately, counseling is available to all separating military members so these programs and others you should already have a basic knowledge of.
VOW to Hire Heroes Act
On top of these organizations, legislation such as the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, provides veterans with even more opportunities to seamlessly transition back into a civilian role. This legislation provides five comprehensive actions to assimilate veterans, including:
- Expanding education and training, to provide up to 100,000 pre Sept. 11, 2001 veterans with up to an additional year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits
- Improving the VA’s Transition Assistance Program and requiring it for all service members who are soon to be discharged
- Facilitating a seamless transition by enabling veterans to establish their job preference for civil service jobs. This ensures employment soon after discharge, instead of waiting months for the application process to finish
- Translating military skills and training into civilian employment, such as licensing and certification in sectors like automotive repair, truck driving, nurses, and medical services
- Providing tax credits to businesses who hire veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work
With programs like these, veterans will have less trouble finding employment and have more time to spend on settling their families.
Military Housing Benefits
Service members and veterans have multiple options when deciding if it is the right time to settle in a specific area like Warner Robins GA. Active members can always use their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to purchase a home or townhouse off-base. While this is a great option for some, BAH doesn’t usually always cover all your living expenses, so understand what is happening in your local real estate market before jumping in with both feet.
However, for those transitioning out of the service they must make the choice between renting and buying. Good thing the majority of veterans and service members are eligible for the VA loan program. The VA loan program takes into account the military lifestyle and caters directly to their needs through benefits like an optional down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and lax eligibility requirements.
Veterans and active duty military members should always consider if it is the right time to buy a home. While rates may be good, it may not be advantageous if you are an active member and are assigned a new duty station every two to four years.
On the other hand, veterans must consider if they are happy in their current area. Military members are used to traveling and their birthplace may not be where they want to settle.
Regardless of your status, if you are in position to purchase a home, the first thing you should do is contact a lender to get pre-approved so you know what your mortgage limit is. If unsure which lender to use, contact a local real estate agent to assist you. Many have a list of resources they can share with their clients.
While the VA home loan has very lax requirements, a credit score of at least 620 is preferred and your rate will get better as your score increases, as shown in Veterans United’s no-nonsense guide to understanding credit score.
In addition to credit requirements, the VA home loan program also has a service requirement. A veteran or service member must fall into only one of the following:
- An active duty soldier or veteran who served 90 days consecutively on active duty during wartime or 181 days consecutively during peacetime.
- A Reservist or National Guard member must have served a minimum of six years.
- In some cases, the non-remarried spouse of a fallen service member can be eligible.
For more information on the benefits or if finding the right home is what you seek, contact Anita Clark Realtor or a VA approved lender. As a retired military spouse, I am well versed in the trials, tribulations, and unique challenges our military heroes face!
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