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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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
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 age of 18 years
- 20/20 vision
- Excellent concentration ability
- Ability to direct and guide the pilot towards the spotted target
- Weight restrictions
- Acquiring and developing target information
- Learn how to make emergency signs and report sightings
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.
- 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
- Advancing towards radio signal
- Coordinate with search and rescue planes
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.
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.
- Tangible experience in the use of WordPress CMS
- Excellent communication skills
- 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.
Every year on the fourth of July, we get our families and friends together, barbecue, light fireworks and relax. Although having a splendid holiday is important, it’s also important to remember why we’re celebrating in the first place. Independence Day is a federal public holiday in the United States that honors the declaration of independence.
Patriotism is a strong passion which inspires you to support and serve your country. Having a great love or passion for your country is beneficial and it is a source of inspiration that propels us towards great accomplishment or success. The fourth of July is almost here, which indicates it’s time for fireworks, cookouts and a whole lot of red, white and blue.
Here are some ways you can show your patriotism and make a difference at the same time:
It is often said that you cannot change the future without a firm understanding of the past. Consequently, being responsible citizens calls for a firm grasp of history. And, in the information age, there are no excuses for the ignorance of so many adults. Take a class. Watch a movie. Read a book. Study about our culture in all of its horror and splendor so that you can engage in factual debates and conversations.
Raise the Flag
Did you know that flying the flag is a simple, but powerful way to support your country and all the active duty women and men who have defended it? Raise a flag in your front yard on any day of the week and remember to treat it with utmost respect. Flag bumper stickers are a great way to fly the flag when you’re driving. Stick them on your car, or anywhere that can outwardly display your love and respect for your country.
The right to vote is every so often taken for granted. Voting empowers us as a nation to be involved and gives us the ability to have a say in the decisions that are made. Being an active citizen is a great way to show love for your country. Furthermore, actively participating in the democratic process is an integral part of being an American.
Visit national parks
The National Parks Service safeguards many of the country’s greatest historic and natural treasures, and they’re available for the enjoyment of everyone. Most historic sites and national parks are free, but some do charge admission. When you make a voluntary donation or pay for admission fees, you’re helping the national park service continue to preserve America’s natural and cultural history.
Visit a cemetery
Even if you don’t have a loved one who fought and died for our country, remembering the people who did is the best way to thank them for their service. Take some time from your day to remember individuals who fought to make sure you have all the freedoms you enjoy today.
Another way to show love for your country is to get involved in your community. Become a member of the school board, attend a public meeting or run for a public office. Learn what setbacks your community is facing and speak up to offer solutions.
Pray for all the families of the fallen
Remember to pray for all our fallen service men and women on July 4th. Also, pray for the thousands of men and women who were killed in the struggle.
Make a patriotic playlist
Put together a playlist for a backyard, family gathering or a cool trip to the swimming pool. Among the most famous American musicians are: the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley.
Wear patriotic flags, colors or images
Admittedly, nothing displays the love for your country than displaying it through accessories or clothing! Each country has distinct images and colors that define who they’re and how they’re perceived globally.
Thank a veteran
Because of the veterans who defend our country’s rights, privileges, and freedoms, people can worship freely, women are not oppressed, and the government can’t control the press.
So express your gratitude by offering to buy a veteran a frosty beverage, lemonade or a cold bottle of water as the temperatures continue to hover at or near a hundred degrees.
Most people will approve and understand your pride. Show your patriotism, and remember your support and service makes the nation stronger.