VA Home Loans- Everything you Need to Know About VA Loans

The VA loan program is the most powerful home loan program on the market for many service members, veterans, and military families. This government supported loans come with big advantages that unlock the doors of home ownership to service members and veterans who might otherwise strain to get financing.

What is a VA loan?

The VA loan is a mortgage loan granted by authorized lenders and guaranteed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA program was started in 1944 by the U.S. government to help eligible surviving spouses, and service members buy homes without needing an excellent credit or down payments.

While the Department of Veteran Affairs doesn’t give money for VA loans, it guarantees loans made by private lenders (mortgage companies, loans, and savings, or banks) to qualified military spouses, veterans and active military personnel. Additionally, VA dictates the terms of the mortgages offered, insure VA loans against default and establishes the rules for those who qualify.

There are three types of VA loans: cash- out refinance loans, interest reduction refinance loans and purchase loans. These loans require no private mortgage insurance or down payment. Interesting enough, they allow qualified borrowers to buy a home with little or no money out of their pockets and feature competitive rates and terms.

The VA Loan Advantage

Borrowers who qualify for VA loans receive a lot of benefits that make this line of financing one of the most attractive options out there. VA home loans remove many barriers to home ownership and allow veterans and eligible service members to purchase a home easily. The VA loan is simply the best way to buy a home. Why? Because with a VA mortgage:

No down payment is required

Let’s face it, building credit and saving money can be difficult for service members who are constantly on the move. Fortunately, with VA loan, qualified borrowers can finance one hundred percent of the property’s value without a down payment.

This is perhaps the biggest advantage to a VA loan. You don’t need a down payment. None whatsoever.  This means you may finance any amount up to the total cost price as long as it’s not greater than the appraised property value. With a VA loan, you can purchase your dream home without delay, rather than after many years of saving for a down payment.

No mortgage insurance is required

Mortgage insurance is a monthly fee you pay with conventional lenders when you’re not putting at least twenty percent down, which is a tough task for many veterans. The VA’S guaranty reduces the need for mortgage insurance premium or any mortgage insurance, helping you save more money. This VA loan benefit lets you build up more equity in your home, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Competitive interest rates

Since they are guaranteed by the VA, lenders are able to offer lower interest rates with no minimum down payment requirement. VA loan rates are usually 0.25 to 1 percent lower than those of conventional loans. The VA backs the mortgages, making them a lower risk for lenders. However, the rates are still determined by the same factors, such as history and credit score, but they’re highly competitive compared to conventional loans.

Pair the ability to buy your dream home with no private mortgage insurance and that lower interest rate and the savings start adding up drastically.

No prepayment penalty

With most conventional loans, settling a home loan before it matures leads to a prepayment penalty. This is because lenders forego on additional opportunities to collect interest payments.  Without a prepayment penalty, borrowers are free to consider refinancing options and future home purchases.

You can make extra payments anytime you want, saving you a lot in interest over the life of your loan. Even better, you can set your payments to automatically subtract a certain amount every month. Just an extra one hundred dollars monthly can shave many years and tens of thousands of dollars from the balance.

Use your benefit again and again

There is a widespread fallacy that you can only use this program once. That is untrue. Furthermore, it is possible to have more than one VA loan at the same time or obtain another after losing one to foreclosure.

Assuming you bought a house with a VA loan, but need something bigger. When you sell the house and pay off the VA loan completely, you can re-use your benefit to buy another house. Your entitlement as a service member or veteran is restored in full.

FAQs on VA home loans

How can I qualify for a VA loan?

To meet the requirements for a VA loan, you should have prequalified with a VA authorized lender. Prequalification takes less than ten minutes, and you’ll be notified if you qualify for the VA loan. It’s important to understand that preapproval and prequalification aren’t binding and don’t create any sort of obligation between you and the lender.

I was declared bankrupt, or I have bad credit. Can I still get a VA loan?

VA loans are subject to similar terms as conventional loans, as they are provided by private lenders. The necessary income requirements and credit status still apply. Also, mortgage qualification is still determined based on the conditions that lenders lay down.

What can I purchase with my VA loan?

VA home loan programs may be used to obtain condominium, townhouse, or manufactured homes; install energy saving improvements; refinance your current home loan if you’re eligible, or make other qualified home improvements.

Can I use the program more than once?

The great thing about VA loans is that if you have previously bought a house with a VA loan, sold it and cleared the current loan, you can get your entitlement restored.

What VA cannot do

The VA appraisal is not intended to be an inspection of the property. Therefore, VA cannot guarantee that the house you purchase will be free of defects. In case you have any doubts about the condition of the house, it’s in your best interest to seek expert advice.

VA only guarantees the loan and not the condition of the home. Consequently, it’s your duty to be an enlightened buyer and reassure yourself that what you’re buying is satisfactory to you. In a nutshell, VA doesn’t have the authority to provide you with legal services.

Conclusion

The VA home loan program is an outstanding asset for veterans and members of the armed services. With competitive interest rates, no PMI, and no down payment, home ownership is now possible for military members on a tight budget.

USAA Insurance for Veterans

Unfortunately, veterans of the United States military haven’t always been honored as they should have been but a group of veterans got together and figured out a way to honor their brothers in arms. They came up with USAA insurance. The rates are comparable if not better than the leading major insurers. They also provide a full range of highly competitive financial products and services to the military community and their families.

What is USAA insurance?

United States Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a diversified services group of companies. It’s also a great insurance company with low and competitive car insurance rates to consider for members of the military forces and their families. Even better, it has some of the best quotes for this community and wins great reviews from other companies and its policyholders alike. USAA is perhaps the most exclusive of all insurance companies. Since the company was started in 1922, they have limited their policies to members of the U.S. Military.

USAA is listed in the Forbes 500 at 78 for total assets and 189 th for revenue. The company has more than a hundred billion dollars in assets and has written insurance policies totaling more than nine billion dollars in 2006. USAA is dedicated to serving veterans and service members who have admirably served our country. USAA has the strength and history you can count on to insure your cars, your home and more.

Unlike most banks, USAA doesn’t have a network of branches all over the country. USAA has just a few branches in major military installations across eleven states. However, it has a chain of over sixty thousand ATMs that members may use, as well as excellent technology for remote banking.

Membership and Eligibility

Since the 20s USAA still retains an unwavering focus on its original niche: to diligently serve military personnel and their families. Sadly, this means that most citizens in the United States don’t qualify for membership.

The following groups are eligible to join USAA:

  • Midshipmen and cadets. This includes midshipmen and cadets at service academies.
  • Retired, honorably separated, and active duty personnel. If you are a former or recurrent service member without a discreditable discharge, you’re qualified for membership.
  • Former and Current spouses of military service members.
  • Children of service members. Spouses and children of military personnel can be members of the USAA.

Civilians are not eligible for membership, but they can purchase life insurance and some investment accounts with USAA.

Why Consider Joining USAA?

So what makes USAA special? Well, quite a bit, actually, but first and foremost is their mission: they exist to serve the military community and their members. They do this by providing best in class financial services and products. Not the best part yet, they’re member-owned. So if you’re a member, you’re also a part owner. This is important because as a part owner, you are entitled to receive a share at the end of each financial year if the insurance premiums USAA amasses exceed claims.

Here are more reasons why you should consider joining USAA:

  1. World class customer service and superior products

USAA has the best customer service compared to other financial institutions or banks. Customers have raved about the claims experience at USAA. Particularly, the appraisal process and the fairness of the claim settlements have ranked among industry leaders. This high-quality customer service has won over many USAA customers. Since USAA is a private company, their main focus is keeping their policyholders happy through courteous customer service and timely claims. USAA provides a full range of highly competitive financial services and products to the military community and their families.

  1. Excellent rates for every member

USAA offers home equity loans, VA loans, auto loans, mortgages and more. Although the best deals are retained for active duty military personnel, USAA offers extremely low rates for loans for all of its members. USAA will give you good coverage for less, but not the personalized service that you would get if you went with a larger or more popular insurance provider. During these tough times, it’s exactly what most people need!

  1. Full-service banking

USAA has been an innovative bank for many years. They offer many premium services as standard for all accounts. These include free savings and checking accounts with no minimum balance fees, free rewards debit card, free checks, free web bill pay, free overdraft protection, and much more. Additionally, you get to enjoy these great services:

  • The Internet, tablet, smartphone, telephone, and mail banking.
  • Online tools
  • No ATM fees on up to 6 transactions a month
  • Investment products, services, and advice
  • Deposit checks from home or your phone

 

  1. The potential for annual profit distribution to members

On top of discounts and rebates on home insurance, automobiles, and other acquisitions, USAA returns capital to its members in other ways. When you purchase an insurance policy from USAA, you receive a subscriber’s account that has a share of USAA’s capital. If the company meets annual financial performance goals set by the board of directors, you are entitled to receive an annual payout of this amount.

  1. Attractive trading discounts

USAA offers attractive trading discounts for account holders who trade frequently and in high amounts, but they’re not prohibitive for people who don’t make multiple trades per day.

  1. Huge range of services and products under one roof

Compared to other financial institutions that do the bulk of their business online, USAA offers an array of services and products: several types of loans, brokerage, savings and checking accounts, retirement and brokerage accounts, and most types of insurance.

Conclusion

If you’re in the military, a child of a service member, or a military spouse, I’d highly recommend you check out USAA for your banking and insurance needs. Even if you do not reside over a more military installation, USAA can tend to all your banking needs if you’re willing to take on their digital banking. Otherwise, it can be a great place to get comprehensive insurance for less or a low-cost loan.

With all of these great advantages, it’s no surprise USAA has won so many industry awards. Once you join USAA, you’re a member for life, and you can pass on membership to your children and spouse.

Airborne Search and Rescue Training

Over time, the population of people has continued to increase exponentially. Among the many consequences of the influx of people on the surface of the earth is that they continually find themselves in distress or danger. Whether in isolation or in a group, people continue to find themselves in distressing situations or in imminent danger hence a need to be rescued.

Search and rescue is the systematic process of searching for people in distress or in danger and providing them with assistance and support. The field has been evolving from an informal sector that was only constituted in the event of a disaster and quickly disbanded when the situation was solved to dedicated systems that are continually set and ready for any eventuality that may require their services. Search and rescue has become a profession for many people whose sole purpose is to offer rescue and support to victims of distressing situations.

The continued evolution of the sector has seen its diversify and divide itself into several sub-sectors that specify on different situations and terrain. Some of the different classes of search and rescue include:

  • Mountain rescue
  • Ground search and rescue
  • Search and rescue in cities
  • Combat search and rescue on a battlefield
  • Air search and rescue over water

Despite there being such a variety of search and rescue missions, one thing is common to all, airborne search and rescue is necessary for all of them to be effective.

From the first successful airborne rescue mission in 1945 where a civilian helicopter was used to save the lives of 5 crew members of ship, people have continued to invest in the operation. More people continue to undergo training so as to be able to play a part in search and rescue operations.

Airborne search and rescue operations involve the use of planes and helicopters to identify, search and offer support to victims. Airborne search and rescue offers several advantages as it is easy to cover a wide surface over a short period, provides very fast response, and quick delivery of affected people to where they would get support and other necessary services e.g. medical attention.

Due to the seriousness and necessity of the services, it is important for those who wish to be involved in search and rescue operations to be properly trained on how to handle themselves on the ground. It is paramount that they know what to do at every situation as a person’s life may depend on their actions.

In airborne search and rescue operations, there are various tasks that require undertaking and anyone willing to engage in the practice would hardly lack a place. The following are some of the positions that a person willing to engage in airborne search and rescue can join.

Pilot

These are the personnel responsible for flying the planes that are involved in search and rescue operations. They are basically trained to learn how to plan search and rescue operations and to safely and accurately execute the process.

Minimum requirements

  • 18 years old and above
  • Possess a valid pilot license
  • Not less than 150 hours as pilot in command and not less than 50 hours as a single pilot on a single engine plane.
  • Possess a restricted radio operator certificate

Key duties

  • Responsible for the safety of the plane at all times
  • Calculating and managing the weight of the aircraft
  • Acquiring weather information statistics
  • Obtaining active NOTAMs

Navigators

These are personnel that assist the pilots when flying the planes to make sure that they navigate safely through the sky so as to reach the destinations quickly and safely. They may be pilots or not. All navigators are equipped with search and rescue navigation training to ensure they perform as intended.

Minimum requirements

  • 18 years of age or above
  • Possess a private pilot license or have prior aircrew experience
  • 20/20 vision (either natural or corrected)
  • Have good concentration levels
  • Current license validation certificate

Key responsibilities

  • Accurately assisting the pilot to navigate the plane along the assigned search and rescue pattern
  • Developing and determining search patterns
  • Preparation of maps
  • Calculation of time

Spotters

These are basically the ‘eyes’ of the search team in the sky and are required to spot the targets of the search and rescue operation. Their training includes how they should conduct themselves inside small planes, how to identify search clues while inside a moving aircraft.

Minimum requirements

  • Minimum age of 18 years
  • 20/20 vision
  • Excellent concentration ability
  • Ability to direct and guide the pilot towards the spotted target
  • Weight restrictions

Key responsibilities

  • Acquiring and developing target information
  • Learn how to make emergency signs and report sightings

Ground team

These are personnel responsible for responding to urgent signals from a beacon to deliver help to a downed aircraft, hiker or a boat in distress. They are basically trained how to read and interpret maps, use of compasses, bush survival, use of homing and equipment and emergency scene management.

Minimal requirements

  • Willingness and ability to travel through bushes and thickets
  • Possession of a driving license is an advantage
  • Be willing to learn how to perform First Aid procedures

Key responsibilities

  • Advancing towards radio signal
  • Coordinate with search and rescue planes

Support team

People who do not make the cut to be involved in the flying planes or cutting through the bushes may be deployed in the offices. They are responsible for offering support services when required and keeping records of activities.

Webmaster

Are responsible for minting websites and engaging with users. They will maintain the database, ensure that the web is functional and make adjustments to improve performances.

Minimal requirements

  • Tangible experience in the use of WordPress CMS
  • Excellent communication skills

Key responsibilities

  • Post new and engaging content on the website including photos, videos etc.
  • Maintain company database
  • Perform diagnostic operations and maintaining the website in general

Airborne search and rescue has turned out to be a crucial operation in modern times. Continued conflicts around the world lead to more and more distress conditions for victims and increase the need for rescue operations.

For those who have a passion to alienate human suffering have a huge platform to exercise their passion through airborne search and rescue. Although there are some stringent requirements for certain positions e.g. piloting, some positions do not require much specialization and with the correct training they will be on their way to doing what they desire most; help other humans from suffering.

It is clear that there is a role for everyone willing to engage in airborne search and rescue and despite how small a task may seem, it may be the difference between a person living or suffering to death.

 

Training Regimen for Navy Pilots

To become a Navy pilot in the United States, you must meet medical, educational and physical prerequisites and finish several stages of training. The educational requirements are among the most time consuming and significant factors in becoming a naval aviator or navy pilot. In addition to academics, you must meet certain medical standards and be prepared for the physical demands of training.

What is Naval Aviation?

Naval Aviation is well-known for the requirements it places upon the Navy pilots. The concentration and skills required to track a sub while flying a few feet above a stormy sea is not only linked to top physical conditioning or a stellar academic background. There is more to naval aviation than that; it requires a combination of dedication and talents that few people have, and even fewer are challenged to use to full measure.

Here are the benchmarks you will need to meet if you plan to pursue this highly demanding and coveted career:

Education and Commissioning

The first step towards becoming a pilot in the Navy is enlisting in the Navy. Some potential pilots join the Navy when they enter college. To be a Navy pilot, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree so many individuals wait to enlist until after university. One of the benefits of enlisting sooner is that you can join the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) and still take military classes while enrolled in a regular college curriculum.

Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you must become a naval officer appointed at the rank of ensign which requires you to have specific military training. The United States Naval Academy is the most rigorous route. Only about ten percent of applicants are chosen each year. Aspiring students have a varsity sports background, history of leadership, and stellar academic records.

Age Requirements

There are cutoff ages. You’re required to be at least eighteen years of age when you enlist in the Navy and be appointed as an officer before turning twenty-eight.

Citizenship

You must be a citizen of the United States. If you’re not a citizen yet, you can apply to become one as soon as you enlist, no matter how long you’ve lived in the United States.

Testing

To become a Navy pilot, you will have to pass a mandatory test of the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), a test that has been in place since World War II. It is comprised of five timed subsets: a survey gauging interest in aviation, spatial perception, nautical and aviation, verbal and mathematics, and mechanical comprehension. Approximately ten thousand candidates sit for the exam annually.

Physical Condition

You will have to take a battery of background, physical and psychological tests. You will take a flight physical to prove that you are medically qualified to fly. You can’t have problems with depth perception or be colorblind.

Flight School

After successfully completing the Aviation Selection Test Battery, you’ll need to enroll in flight school for introductory flight screening. However, if you have a private pilot’s or recreational license, you may be able to forego flight school.

Introductory flight screening includes twenty-five hours of instruction. Once this period is over, you must have completed three solo flights. Upon completion, you can enroll in the Navy’s program for aviators in the state of Florida.

In Florida, primary training commences. Here you’ll start your hands-on instruction in regards to repairing and operating aircraft. You will spend about a hundred hours in flight learning basic flight skills, aerobatics, night flying, and flying in formation.

Specialization

At the end of your primary training stage, you will need to specialize in a specific aircraft. Where you go next depends on the aircraft you’ve chosen to specialize in operating.

Earn Your Golden Wings

The golden wings are awarded to select groups of pilots who can be Navy aviators. It takes years of education and training to earn your wings, but if you are devoted to a career as a pilot, it’s a great long-term goal. You just need to work hard and allow your instructors to train and guide you to your wings of gold.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Naval Flight Officer?

NFO’s are the women and men who operate the advanced systems onboard naval aircraft and some may also act as tactical directors of various air assets in a mission. They’re different from Naval Aviators in that they don’t pilot the aircraft in which they serve. This division of labor between NFO’s and aviators enables them to focus on mission tasks that call for specific occupational training.

What Courses Should I take if I am working Towards Becoming a Navy Pilot?

During your undergrad, you should plan on taking math up to Linear Algebra or Calculus II. You should also take two semesters of introductory physics classes which will rely heavily on your fundamental understanding of mathematics. From there, you might consider classes in material physics, thermal dynamics, and fluid, or physics of light. These will all help you stand out.

Conclusion

To become a Navy pilot, you need to be able to prove to the Navy that you are worthy of their investment in your training. You have to have the the traits and skills the Navy is looking for including character, will, desire and intelligence to make it through training. If you become a Navy pilot, you can look forward to a career filled with challenge, adventure, and excitement.

Sports for Deployed Troops

Sports in the military are a fundamental part to personal development, morale, operational effectiveness and most importantly, fighting spirit. Deployed troops are always out there fighting for us, typicallly in a foreign; thousands of miles away from those that they love. Understandably, many are the times that they desperately miss their families and time together. Their self-sacrifice and readiness to make a difference deserves merit and appreciation. Soldiers, just like most people, love to play – they need to play – so they make it work even when away on missions.

Forget the Final Four or the Super Bowl – the biggest games in the world don’t have a ref or fans. Interestingly enough, these games are usually played by men and women with much greater worries than their scores. They compete in challenging environments – for example, playing basketball in a makeshift court in the middle of no-where or playing in a hangar in the middle of a desert. It hasn’t always been supported by military leaders that didn’t always believe in off-duty games and particularly in hostile regions; however, this mindset has gradually faded and now most believe that these warriors putting their lives on the line for the nation also need the normalcy of sports.

Sports for deployed troops are usually considered to be an essential part of their routines. However, it doesn’t always happen. Of course, there are times when they can’t make it work. They are fighting a war. To completely realize the value of sports to the military, you must first understand the lives of these men and women. A normal day for a soldier during a mission is characterized by at least 14 hours of work. A soldier will normally work 7 days a week. In a week, you get only half a day to clean your living space and do laundry. While soldiers are usually trained to handle that; it’s reasonable to say they are generally under a lot more pressure than the normal person.

Once work is accomplished, a soldier usually has between 12 and 18 hours before doing it again. It is this period that they use for recreation – when they are not sleeping, eating or showering. There are a reasonable number of recreational options, but sports are a very good escape from the long days. Additionally, sports are also a nice outlet from the combat environment for those feeling stressed by it. Sports played vary depending on geographic location, interest and population. Here are a few common sports that deployed troops engage in:

SOCCER

For starters, soccer is all about the running. As play in soccer is constant, it is a great sport for strength and heart health. Playing recreational soccer doesn’t need a large field or many people. You can make it as simple as having a kick with your pals. Recreational soccer can also be done virtually anywhere – in streets, backyards and even on beaches. All you require is a soccer ball.

It is also the most hip and most played sport in the planet. It is an especially great sport when troops from different units come together. For instance, if you find yourself in a group of British soldiers and need to kill the boredom, then a game of soccer is a great choice.

MARTIAL ARTS

Common martial arts performed by deployed troops include karate and kung fu. Apart from keeping soldiers fit and healthy at all times, martial arts instills excellent character traits such as hard work, discipline and having a sense of responsibility. Working with a partner is battle training of the best kind. This way, your muscles adapt to change and fatigue giving you the best body exercises possible.

BASKETBALL

Recreational basketball is so flexible that you can have fun in various ways. You can shoot some hoops by yourself or play a friendly game with your buddies. Basketball, like soccer is highly anaerobic and is great for overall fitness. It’s exercise that comes in bursts of great running and jumping, amid short walks and jogs depending on the game. This continuous rise and recovery of the breathing and heart rates helps in building stamina and enhances your ability to recuperate from exertion.

Conclusion

The military encourages sports among deployed troops because they know that it is vital for people to maintain physical fitness. Additionally, it’s beneficial to help deployed troops in managing their stress. If you ask a soldier the real importance of playing sports while on deployment, they will tell you that it is the only moment that they get to dominate their small “peaceful” world. Afterward, there would be a new mission and soldier life would be back on the line. But in that particular moment, one is virtually only thinking about soccer or whatever it is that they are playing.

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