Free for Active Duty Military: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

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National Veterans Memorial & Museum (NVMM) recently announced that it will offer free entry for any US Military Veteran, Active-Duty Military Member and Gold Star Families.

The NVMM is the first and only nationally designated museum in the United States dedicated to honoring veterans, and just opened in October 2018 in Columbus, OH.

A few key highlights visitors and locals can look forward to:

  • A Museum About Veterans and For Veterans: Exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates created an exhibition that is focused on the people – the soldier, the military personnel, the family member of a veteran – and their narrative journeys. Through personal artifacts, imagery and videos of veterans telling their story in their own words, the exhibitions draw in visitors and give them a sense of what veterans have gone through during their military service, highlighting the historical and contemporary examples of veterans’ stories. Rather than focus exclusively on combat and war, this exhibition narrative will explore the transformative experience of military service while connecting it to the broader idea of public and community service. The aim: to stimulate an ongoing dialogue to increase connections between civilians and veterans.
  • Pioneering in Education – Finally a Platform for Vets’ Stories to Be Told and Heard: The NVMM is the only place where the stories of our veterans, their families and the fallen – across all branches of service and all eras of conflict – are told together. The museum bridges historical events to current concerns and strengthens understanding and respect between veterans and civilians. This cultural institution stands as a place of inspiration for all visitors to come together as one people with a common bond and a shared pride in our veterans.
  • A New Architectural Icon: The building architect, Allied Works Architecture, has designed aNational Veterans Memorial Museum massive concrete arch structure (made up of a whopping 28 million pounds of concrete) with a glass curtainwall system and spiral processional, rising to a rooftop sanctuary – truly setting this museum apart The landscape architect, OLIN (the masterminds behind Bryant Park and Columbus Circle), designed the surrounding 2.5-acre Memorial Grove as a place for reflection. At the center of a circular path, there will be a grove of trees, designating the area as a sacred place to honor and memorialize veterans.
  • A Unique Philanthropic Effort: Most fundraising projects are fueled by a group close to a cause – this is a unique exception. While many veterans have played a critical role in the project’s bottom line, the largest private investors – Les and Abigail Wexner – committed to the project not because of particular ties to the military but because of their strong commitment to the community. They invested in the cultural credibility of the Region, and in the importance of not only supporting our veterans, but educating the public on their stories and service. The project received more than $82 million.

For more information visit; National Veterans Memorial & Museum.

Some Disabled Vets to Get Automatic Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

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Paralyzed veterans seated in their wheelchairs

President Donald J. Trump recently signed a presidential memorandum intended to streamline the process of erasing federal student loan debt for totally and permanently disabled veterans.

Through a process called Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge, veterans will now have their student loan debt discharged unless they decide to opt out of the process.

The Department of Education anticipates notifying more than 25,000 eligible veterans and continuing the discharge process on a quarterly basis.

The executive order builds on improvements to the TPD discharge process implemented by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.

The education department established a data matching process with the VA in April 2018 to identify totally and permanently disabled veterans who are eligible for student loan relief. Since then, this process has resulted in more than $650 million in student loan relief to more than 22,000 eligible vets.

Veterans will reserve the right to weigh their options and to decline loan discharge within 60 days of notification of their eligibility. They may elect to decline loan relief either because of potential tax liability in some states or because receiving loan relief could make it more difficult to take future student loans.

Eligible veterans who do not opt out of the program will have their remaining student loan balance discharged and will be reimbursed for payments made following the date of their disability discharge.

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, issued a brief statement calling the administration’s action “a welcome development on an issue we have been leading since November 2018.”

She said what began as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the education department grew to include advocacy by military and veteran service organizations, 51 state attorneys general and bipartisan Congressional support and “has led to student loan debt relief for thousands of disabled veterans.”

“We strongly urge the Education Department to complete these loan discharges by September 30, 2019,” the statement concluded.

Continue on to diverseeducation.com to read the complete article.

Managing the Shift from Military to Business Culture

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Veteran dressed in a suit holding a flag

By Mike Olivier

By this time in your career you have probably come across the concept of tribal culture. Tribal culture is also military culture, civilian culture, high school culture, and business or workplace culture.

Culture—or the rules of acceptable behavior and how you engage people—is ever-changing. To be successful in any phase of your life, you need to be able to adapt and adjust through means of observation and reprogramming your actions and direction. Trading the military culture for a civilian one is one of these phases.

For the most part, military culture is a straightforward one in which the language is direct, and there is little room for interpretation. Roles, responsibilities, tasks, and reporting requirements are often a matter of fact, not interpretation. This is due in part to the fact that authority is direct, and in matters of life and death misunderstanding or misinterpretation often leads to disaster. In the civilian world these relationships and the chain of command are often blurred. There are circumstances when you report to more than one person, where there are conflicting duties and responsibilities, and no stated priority.

Nevertheless, in both business and military cultures, there are common elements. One is that change is constant. We know that at first most people resist change. To achieve change in both cultures, there is a need for consensus, which is the result of process not action. Successful leaders are the ones that drive change in any culture.

Perhaps through your military training, class work, or direct experience you have worked through the military decision making process. At its core is a very democratic and consensus driven process for developing courses of action, orders, and for making organizational change. It is a means to deal with the reality that in both business and military worlds there are fiefdoms. In business there is accounting, human relations, production, sales, etc. In the military there is intelligence, operations, logistics, etc. Each of these functional staffs are a world and culture unto themselves. The challenge is getting each of these groups—each with their separate list of goals, objectives, and measurements of success—to work together.

Getting these individual staffs to work together depends upon their participation in planning, developing courses of action and in the decision-making process. The leader’s responsibility is to get these disparate groups to visualize and achieve the strategic objective. Some leaders may not actually follow the process while still others will remain dictatorial, all while giving praise to the collaborative process. Nevertheless, successful change—even if accomplished in a clandestine manner—is through the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders.

As a veteran, and a member of perhaps the largest bureaucracy in the United States, you’ve for sure had some experience with this process. In the business world, though, the culture and vocabulary may be different, the bureaucracy is smaller but the process in how you approach problems remains the same. No matter what you do in terms of a civilian career, the challenge of managing change will always be there. Besides a technical fit, employers are often looking for those change agents that can assist the organization in moving forward. Being able to adapt and overcome are the hallmarks of military culture; add leadership and consensus planning experience to the mix and your entry into business culture will be that much more successful.

Sailor Spotlight! Operations Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Tran

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Anthony Tran standing in uniform with flags in the background

SAN DIEGO – A 2011 Rancho Alamitos High School graduate and Garden Grove, Calif., native is currently an instructor for the U.S. Navy training sailors in operating the technologically advanced Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Tran has been an instructor at the LCS Training Facility (LTF) since June 2018.

The LTF, the first surface warfare training facility to provide integrated bridge and combat systems tactical scenario training for sailors serving on board an LCS, is operated by the Center for Surface Combat Systems’ (CSCS) learning site Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FLEASWTRACEN) in San Diego.

Tran teaches a five-week LCS Capstone that focuses on basic Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) operations and tactical decision making in a combat environment.

“I am responsible for ensuring future LCS sailors receive the most up to date and advanced training,” explained Tran. “I mainly focus on teaching tactical decisions and tactical advantages that help deploy fully trained Sailors out to sea.”

Sailors serving in the LCS environment demand a higher quantity and quality of training.

“LCS class ships drive a new approach to individual, team, and unit-level training to accommodate the minimum manning and rotational crewing concepts,” explained Capt. Brandon Bryan, FLEASWTRACEN’s commanding officer. “This new approach drives the need for the shore-centric Train-to-Qualify (T2Q) and Train-to-Certify (T2C) concepts, which rely heavily on high-fidelity shore-based trainers. Our simulators integrate LCS command and control, propulsion control, and bridge control systems to support individual training in a team environment at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels.”

Tran enlisted in the Navy in May 2013.

“I joined the Navy to have a solid foundation because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life,” Tran said. “With this, came the opportunity to serve my country and travel and today, I proudly serve as a United States sailor.”

His first assignment was Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, where he served as green crown controller conducting tactical air control onboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) homeported in Sasebo, Japan.

“At the LTF, we prepare sailors to execute a wide variety of missions around the world,” Bryan said. “They leave our training facility ready to stand their watch and execute the Navy’s mission.”

Tran is the son of Khanh and Vanessa who reside in Garden Grove, Calif.

CSCS’ mission is to develop and deliver surface ship combat systems training to achieve surface warfare superiority. CSCS headquarters’ staff oversees 14 learning sites and detachments located throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, and Japan and manages and operates a Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) training division in Rota, Spain. CSCS provides over 538 courses, awards 114 different Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs), and trains over 38,000 sailors a year. CSCS delivers specialized training for officers and enlisted sailors required to tactically operate, maintain, and employ shipboard and shore-based weapons, sensors, and command and control systems utilized in today’s Navy.

For more information on CSCS, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/ or follow CSCS on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Center-for-Surface-Combat-Systems/1480366868885239

Source: Navy Outreach

US Postal Service Honors Military Working Dogs With New ‘Forever’ Stamp

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The furriest members of the armed forces grace the U.S. Postal Service’s newest stamps. The new red, white and blue stamps featuring military working dogs were designed to “honor the nation’s brave and loyal canines,” according to a Postal Service statement released.

The stamps feature artist renderings of four breeds commonly used as military working dogs: German shepherd, Dutch shepherd, Labrador retriever and Belgian Malinois, according to an image of the stamps.

In four different stamps, each breed is pictured wearing a working harness, posing against a backdrop of a white star against a red or blue background, according to the image.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael DeCarli, a master-at-arms at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, said he plans to purchase a stamp and feels honored to have his profession featured on the classic icon.

DeCarli, of Evansville, Ind., deployed last year to Qatar and Syria with his military working dog, Adam. DeCarli and the 6-year-old German shepherd worked to detect explosives and went on patrols in the two countries from April to December 2018.

“Postage stamps for a long time have been a collector’s item featuring important people and events,” Decarli said. “To be considered in that, I feel very honored as part of the [dog-handler] community.”

The U.S. has used military working dogs alongside servicemembers since World War I for multiple purposes, including explosives and narcotics detection, search and rescue and security, according to the U.S. War Dogs Association.

Continue on to military.com to read the complete article.

Inside the Specially Adapted Home Wayfair Furnished for a Veteran with a Disability and His Family

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Disabled veteran and family stand outside their new home

When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.

The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.

A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.

As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit organization that donates custom houses to veterans with disabilities, allowing them freedom in their homes as thanks for their service abroad. The organization teamed up with online furniture marketplace Wayfair to completely overhaul the Curtins’ home this past June, customizing it to both John’s accessibility needs and the pair’s personal style.

“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”

“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”

Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.

For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Daymond John — Turning Heroes into CEOs

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The Shark Tank’s Daymond John encourages veteran entrepreneurs to make waves in business.

By Lori Denman

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Daymond John has cast a pretty large net in the realm of business.

John, otherwise known as, “The People’s Shark,” is a busy man—leading his multi-million dollar FUBU clothing line and hosting the popular reality ABC hit, “Shark Tank,” that’s celebrating its 11th season.

But he never hesitates to take time to help a promising entrepreneur—particularly those who have served our country. “I’m working with veterans as much as I can,” he said.

John is in his third year of partnering with Bob Evans Farms to host an entrepreneurial contest called “Heroes to CEOs.” Finalists receive a free trip to New York City for a personalized, 45-minute session with John to help them perfect a pitch that could win them a $30,000 grant for their business.

John says the same traits that make veterans successful in combat—courage, teamwork, overcoming challenging obstacles, taking inventory of a situation—also apply in the boardroom. A veteran’s large network of supportive comrades is a further advantage, he added.

“I call it OPM, or other people’s manufacturing, mind power or marketing,” he said. “Meaning if you want to start up a business, make a list of friends and acquaintances who can assist in the mission. Soak up their knowledge and insight.”

Still, there’s a few personality traits characteristic of the military that may actually hinder a veteran entrepreneur, according to John in a recent interview for The Motley Fool.

Shark Tank panel seated together
Panel: (L-R) Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin OLeary, and Daymond John of Tribeca Talks: Ten Years of Shark Tank poses for a portrait. MATT DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES

“Vets were brought up to think about everybody else and stand in the line of fire. They don’t always put their needs first.”

There’s been more than a few veterans who have heeded John’s advice. Last month, Jonathan Norton, founder and CEO of Peak Safety Systems, was voted the winner of the third annual “Heroes to CEOs” program. A former Army Ranger, Norton invented the RopeSafe Edge protection system—life-saving equipment for military, first responders, and rope access professionals.

Norton says his company was born out of personal experience. ““I witnessed a student nearly fall to his death while he was repelling because the edge protector that we were using failed,” he said in a recent interview on cheddar.com.

“It was a scary moment and created a lot of fear, doubt and uncertainty. But it inspired me to find a solution. That was the impetus for developing the product.”

Although RopeSafe just launched, Norton has successfully sold to several areas throughout the U.S., including FDNY, NYPD, Dallas SWAT and more. Even a window washing company in Rochester, New York.

Daymond John books on display at book signing
Books on display during Daymond John book signing ” Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life”. JOHNNY LOUIS/GETTY IMAGES

When asked about entrepreneurial qualities he acquired during his time in the military, Norton says, “In spite of the hardships or the bumps in the road, it’s really about commitment to the mission and knowing I am serving a bigger purpose.”

John says he was blown away with Norton’s creativity, innovation and solid business plan. “He really rose to the top as an exceptional leader who is ready to take his business to the next level.

With several successful ventures under his belt over the last 30 years, John says he’s often asked what advice he gives veterans and others who wish to start their own business.

“I would say don’t mortgage your house for 100K,” he joked recently on Ladders.com, citing his own personal experience as John did indeed get his start by mortgaging his mother’s house.

After that, John started his successful clothing line but considers the risky move very lucky, adding, “It turned out for all the better, but knowing what I know now, I was very close to losing the house and everything we had.”

Daymond John standing wearing a gray suit
Photo: ADRIAN EDWARDS/GETTY IMAGES

His top 5 tips to veterans wanting to start a business as well as other entrepreneurs on Shark Tank:

  1. Set goals to know where you’re headed

By age 16, John had told himself he’d be a millionaire by age 30. But when he turned 22, he was broke and struggling to make a buck by buying and selling cars.

“I didn’t know how to properly execute goal-setting. It’s not just visualizing of a number or a certain age,” said John.

When the idea for FUBU came along, he decided to reshape the goal he set for himself. Instead of committing to making a million dollars by age 30, John instead made it his goal to outfit the hip-hop culture. Designing a clothing line became less about earning money and more about dedicating himself to a community — one that he thought would turn into future consumers.

“My goal became doing the best I can for the company I love,” John said.

  1. Homework — you still have to do it

After sneaking his way into a menswear conference in Las Vegas, John proudly showed off early prototypes of T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of his budding company, FUBU, an acronym that means “For Us, By Us.” He secured $300,000 worth of orders, and after his mother took out an equity line on their house in Queens, he took $100,000 to outfit a factory to get production going.

Just one problem: He hadn’t done any research on what it would cost to start a clothing line and get production going. In the process, he nearly lost his mom’s house and ended FUBU before it got off the ground.

Knowing what you need to launch a venture is something John stresses to the hopefuls who appear before him on Shark Tank. He has to see that an entrepreneur looking for funding has done their work to know what their market is and who their competitors are — and that they’ve used that knowledge to not only start driving sales but also improve on their track record.

  1. Adore what you do, and success will follow

A true entrepreneur must love what they’re doing—a seemingly trite lesson that John said is crucial for any successful entrepreneur. It’s passion for a project that will allow a person to push past failures and feeling burned out.

“Do what you love, and success will follow. Money may follow; but I can’t promise that it will,” he said. “But money’s more likely to follow when you’re doing something you love, because you’ll do it for 10 years or 20 years.”

  1. Remember, you — not just your business — are a brand

These days it’s easy to manufacture a personality using social media. But building a business is as much about how you carry yourself as it is about meeting quarterly sales figures or developing new products.

“Be very honest with yourself, especially today with social media. At any given time, your employees can see you,” John said. “So you have to know what the DNA of the brand is. It only takes your employees two weeks to treat your customers the same way they’re being treated.”

  1. Keep swimming, no matter what

John’s final point makes use of what he calls the power of positive thinking. Even as FUBU grew into a bigger company, he maintained a “healthy paranoia” about running a clothing company.

“I always said fashion brands are hot for five years and then they’re gone,” he said.

But keeping a persevering attitude spurred him to come up with solutions to problems instead of giving up. As John wrote in his book, The Power of Broke: “You have to be relentless, nimble, moving ever forward. No matter what.”

Joe Walsh Announces Lineup For Vetsaid 2019 In Houston

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(HOUSTON, TEXAS) – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and multi-GRAMMY Award winning musician Joe Walsh and VetsAid, his national 501(c)3 non-profit veterans organization, announced the lineup and on-sale date for their 3rd annual music festival. VetsAid 2019 will feature sets from ZZ Top, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Joe Walsh and will take place at 5:30pm on Sunday, November 10, 2019, on the eve of Veterans Day, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Tickets will be available through the Toyota Center Box Office, at www.toyotacenter.com or by calling 1-866-4-HOUTIX and will be priced at $199.50, $149.50, $119.50, $99.50, $79.50, $49.50 and $25.

The inaugural VetsAid took place on September 20, 2017 with a concert at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia featuring performances by Walsh, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. VetsAid 2018 was a blockbuster event featuring Don Henley, James Taylor, Chris Stapleton, Haim and Joe, who was joined by special guest Ringo Starr. They performed to a sell out crowd of nearly 18,000. It was also in Tacoma where Walsh and VetsAid hosted its first Veterans Jobs Fair where dozens of local vets found meaningful full-time employment with established regional employers in the Pacific Northwest.

As every year, all net proceeds from the concert will go directly to the veterans’ services charities selected through a vetting process-coordinated in tandem with the National Association of Veterans Serving Organizations (NAVSO). In its first two years, VetsAid has disbursed nearly $1.2M in grants to veterans’ services organizations on the national level and the regional level with a focus on the festival’s host city. This year, VetsAid plans to disburse grants to Houston-area organizations; small grant applications have been open since May 2019 via the VetsAid website (www.vetsaid.org).

Veterans and their wellbeing have always been important to Walsh, a Gold Star son himself. His father was a flight instructor for the first US operational jet powered aircraft, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and died while stationed and on active duty on Okinawa when Walsh was 20 months old.

Walsh has been involved with veterans’ related causes for years, supporting various charities, visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and offering free guitar lessons to the wounded veterans there. He has campaigned for his good friend, (now) United States Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq War veteran and double amputee.

Walsh aims to use this platform to raise funds and awareness for the still urgent and significant needs of our returning soldiers and their families. Through the establishment of VetsAid and this annual benefit concert, he aims to give back to those who have given so much in sacrifice for this country.

“It’s about time we brought VetsAid down to Texas and who better to share the stage with than my old buddies and Houston’s own ZZ Top! With Brad, Sheryl, Jason and more special guests to be announced joining us too this will be yet another historic night of incredible music for our vets.” Joe Walsh continues, “This is a night where all are welcome to celebrate the things that unite us as Americans: good friends, open hearts and great music!”

For more information, including grant applications for small veterans services groups, please visit www.vetsaid.org.

How Can I Get a VA Home Loan?

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Man and woman pictured with moving boxes in background

Landing an extraordinary home loan probably isn’t anyone’s top reason for enlisting in the armed forces, but since the end of World War II more than 22 million active military members and veterans have used Veterans Administration mortgages to achieve home ownership.

The VA home loan program, part of the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, was designed to ease the path to homeownership for both active military personnel and veterans. Qualified loan applicants aren’t required to make down payments, pay mortgage insurance or some closing costs.

Those expenses can be substantial and can kill deals relying on conventional financing.

VA loans are extremely popular because they’re money savers.

During fiscal 2018, nearly 611,000 buyers used to VA financing to cover more than $161 billion in real estate purchases.

So how do you get a VA mortgage? Here are a few questions that will help:

Am I eligible for a VA loan?

Almost all members of the military, reservists, National Guard and veterans are eligible for VA loans. Spouses of military personnel who died while on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability are also eligible to apply.

Active-duty military qualify after six months in the service. Reservists and National Guard members must be enlisted for six years before applying. If they are called to active duty, they become eligible after 90 days serving during times of war.

What are the benefits of a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t issue mortgages, it guarantees them, setting requirements on the sort of mortgages it will accept and relying on approved lenders (banks, credit unions, online lenders) to issue the loans. The VA takes on risk associated with the mortgages it backs, and the lower risk to the lenders who issue VA is passed along to buyers, often meaning slightly lower interest rates compared to conventional loans.

Here are some of the ways VA and conventional mortgages differ:

—No down payment for buyers who meet loan requirements.

—No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required on any loan.

—Underwriting standards are relaxed since the government backs the mortgages.

—Fewer closing costs compared to conventional mortgages.

—VA interest rates are typically about 0.25% lower than rates for comparable conventional loans.

—VA loans are guaranteed against default, so they pose less risk to mortgage lenders.

What are the borrowing limits?

The VA isn’t really in the loan business. It guarantees home loans and you must find a VA-approved lender to get such a loan. As such, there are no official borrowing limits, but there are limits to the amount of liability the VA will assume.

They vary by county, but the limit was $453,100 in 2018 for most parts of the U.S., but the amount can be as much as $679,650 in high-cost areas such as San Francisco and New York.

What are the fees associated with a VA loan?

Sorry, but even veterans must deal with some up-front costs.

To keep the VA home loan system afloat, there is a one-time funding fee. It varies, depending on the down payment and type of veteran. For instance, a borrower getting his/her first VA loan and making no down payment would pay a 2.15% fee on the amount of loan. The fee is 1.25% if the borrower makes a down payment of 10% or more.

Reservists and National Guard members usually pay about one-quarter of a percentage point more than active-duty personnel.

If you’re using the VA loan program for a second time and have no down payment, the fee is 3.3% of the total loan amount. The fee is waived for veterans who receive disability compensation.

Does the VA offer loan aid and forgiveness?

The VA attempts to help veterans and their families who encounter financial difficulties, and two of these programs impact housing. If you have a conventional sub-prime mortgage loan and are having trouble making the payments, which may have ballooned, you can try to refinance the loan with a VA mortgage.

Or if you default on a home loan, the VA allows lenders to forgive the balance that you owed, meaning you are not required to pay the balance of your loan. This doesn’t prevent you from losing your home, but it removes the repayment obligation.

What are the income requirements for a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t have specific income thresholds for qualifying for a mortgage, relying instead on what it calls residual income requirements.

Borrowers are expected to have steady, stable income, which can come from employment, Social Security, disability payments, investments and other sources. Self-employed persons are often asked to document their income. Even income from foster care, worker’s compensation and public assistance is considered, though it has to be sustainable income that will continue well into the future.

Can I get more than one VA loan?

Yes you can, though the fee is slightly higher the second time around and beyond.

Normally you must sell your primary residence and pay off the off that loan before you can take out another VA loan on a new residence. But there is a one-time opportunity to buy a second home with VA financing if you have refinanced your primary residence with a non-VA loan or you have paid off the original loan.

How do I apply for VA loan?

Find a lending institution that participates in the VA program. Since almost all lenders do, that should not be a problem. In fact, the first thing most lenders ask after introducing themselves is: “Are you a veteran?”

If you say yes, it usually puts a smile on the lender’s face because they know the U.S. government is backing your loan and it will be much easier to get you into a home.

Borrowers must have a Certificate of Eligibility to prove they belong on the VA home-loan track. You can apply on the VA website or by mail. If you need assistance with Certificate of Eligibility acquisition, call 1-800-983-0937.

Who are the best lenders for a VA home loan?

The ones with the best rates and customer service, of course.

However, interest rates fluctuate and customer experience varies depending on a variety of factors. The best answer is to find a lender that is well-versed in the VA home loan program. Even then, there is no shortage of candidates.

A NerdWallet study gave high marks to Navy Federal Credit Union, Veterans United, Quicken, Bank of America, Citibank and Fairway. As with any mortgage, the best advice is to shop around and find a lender you’re comfortable with. The big advantage veterans have is they can get into a program that makes it easier to get into a home that will make them happy.

After spending so much time in tents and foxholes, they deserve it.

Author-By Bill Fay

Source:  debt.org

From One Battlefield to Another: 3 graduate programs for vets interested in politics

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Syracuse University

By Tom McCuin
ClearanceJobs.com

Thinking about running for office? There’s no better way to “put your money where your mouth is” than by throwing your hat in the ring.

Military service has always been a good starting point for entry into politics in America. Americans traditionally love war heroes, however broad the definition of that term might be. From George Washington, who was not only the commander of the Continental Army but a veteran of the French-Indian War, to George W. Bush, a Texas Air National Guard pilot. Thirty-two of the 44 men who have held the presidency served in uniform at some point, with 12 of them as general officers.

One of the high-water marks for veteran political activity was the election of 1946, the first held after the end of World War II. Seventy war veterans were elected to Congress that year, including three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford.

There are currently 96 veterans of all stripes serving in Congress—77 in the House and 19 in the Senate—but only 19 are freshmen. I believe we need to raise that number.

If you’re a veteran who wants to make a difference in politics, whether at the local, state, or national level, there are several programs where you can put your Post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits to use.

These programs give you the technical knowledge necessary to get a head start on your potential opponents, whoever they may be.

Syracuse University Veterans in Politics Program

Syracuse University is the newest entry in this field. Banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co. (where retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno is a senior advisor) provided a grant to Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to begin the program.

Mike Haynie, executive director of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and vice chancellor for its strategic initiatives and innovation, said, “We hope to create the opportunity to put the veterans who participate in the program on a path to enacting their aspiration for office.” Syracuse participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the difference between Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the cost of tuition, and has a robust veteran services office.

University of San Francisco Masters in Public Leadership

In conjunction with the Veterans Campaign, a non-partisan organization dedicated to preparing veterans to hold political office, the University of San Francisco runs a hybrid program of online courses and weekend seminars. The program leads to a MFA degree in public leadership. It’s designed to prepare all students, but especially veterans, for political office as well as for careers in legislative affairs, campaign management, advocacy and civic leadership.

The seminars are available in both San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. area. Like many professional graduate programs, the faculty come more from professional life than academia—a must when discussing the nuts and bolts of getting elected. Prominent among the adjunct faculty is Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress.

George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management

The George Washington University. The Graduate School of Political Management was the first of its kind in the country. It began in New York in 1987, branching out to Washington in 1991. It formally became part of GWU in 1995.

If you want to learn about politics from the people who actually practice and study it alongside people who are currently working in it, then GSPM is for you.

The program offers master of professional studies degrees in three areas: political management, legislative affairs, and strategic public relations. Political management would be the best choice for would-be candidates, while legislative affairs is geared towards those looking to work on Capitol Hill or as a lobbyist. Strategic public relations prepares students to advise senior political and corporate leaders on their engagements with the public.

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From The Army To Campbell Soup To Floor Coverings International

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Jennifer & Jose Elias stand in front of their Floor Coverings International vehicle

Jose and Jennifer Elias recently opened a Floor Coverings International franchise and now happily visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

The couple serves customers throughout Sacramento and the surrounding areas.

Jose and Jennifer met when they were working at Campbell Soup Company, after both earned bachelor’s degrees in Food Science; Jen from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Jose from Rutgers University in New Jersey, where his family moved after arriving from Ecuador when he was eight years old. At age 18, Jose joined the Army and served for three years.

When the couple decided to have children (Hudson, born in 2016, and Madeline, in 2018), Jennifer set aside her corporate career – where she gained a diverse array of experience from product development to operations – to be a stay-at-home mom. “My experience, both personally and professionally, has provided me a great foundation to really build this company,” she said.

“The relationship with Floor Coverings International grew naturally and it ended up being the perfect fit for us,” said Jose, who along with Jennifer, learned of the franchisor through a recruiter. “Running a small business as a husband and wife team has been fun. We absolutely love it so far.” That’s a far cry from where Jose found himself midway through 2018, six months after he thought all his hard work had paid off when he earned a “huge promotion” to lead and manage a food manufacturing facility with 500 employees and $5.2 million in monthly sales. “I had a realization. Working 15 hours a day, weekends included, and missing dinner with my wife and kids wasn’t worth it. It really wasn’t worth any amount of money” Jose said. “I realized I was sick of working that hard for someone else and just wanted out of the corporate world. Jen and I sat down and decided it was time we do something for ourselves and for our kids. We are both hard-working, smart individuals and decided to take the leap.”

In Floor Coverings International, the couple found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

“Floor Coverings International is not just a flooring company,” Jose said. “What drew us in most was how much they focus on the customer experience. Selling beautiful product was important to us, but really providing amazing customer service that is truly unmatched in the home improvement industry is what sealed the deal for us.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.