The fact that Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are just weeks apart is a historical quirk.
But it sure feels right, doesnâ€™t it?
As we take time this week to craft a list of family, friends and other things weâ€™re thankful for, consider adding another line item to the list: those who have fought for our freedom. And, of course, those who continue to do so.
During this month of giving thanks, one of the best ways to honor American service members and their sacrifices is to make sure theyâ€™re aware of the myriad benefits available to them. From health benefits to education opportunities and beyond, thereâ€™s an array of significant benefits that provide some small measure of gratitude to those who have sacrificed so much.
Thereâ€™s certainly one major benefit in particular worth exploring here â€” the VA home loan program. This unique purchasing option has helped more than 18 million veterans and their families become homeowners since the waning months of World War II.
The VA doesnâ€™t issue loans; instead, it guarantees about a quarter of each mortgage, a type of fiscal promise that helps agency-approved lenders offer competitive terms and rates to qualified borrowers. But far and away the programâ€™s biggest benefit is that veterans can purchase with no money down and no private mortgage insurance.
Given the current lending climate, the idea sounds almost unbelievable as we approach 2011. But about 9 in 10 VA loans come with no down payment. Whatâ€™s perhaps even more surprising is that these flexible loans have outperformed all other major loan programs in terms of foreclosures.
The problem is that there are still thousands and thousands of veterans who donâ€™t know this incredible home purchasing and refinance benefit is available to them. About 12 percent of the countryâ€™s 24 million veterans have used their VA home loan benefits. A study in 2004 found that an astounding 20 percent of veterans had no clue of the programâ€™s existence.
There are certainly situations and circumstances where a VA loan isnâ€™t the best option for a service member. But itâ€™s an unparalleled purchasing option for countless veterans. In fact, the VA loan program is often a housing lifeline â€” about 8 in 10 VA borrowers could not have qualified for conventional financing.
So, when it comes time to give thanks, consider taking a moment to talk with the veterans and service members in your circle. Make sure theyâ€™re at least aware of the benefits at their disposal. They have earned them and so much more.