Would you Buy a House without a Realtor? The Top Five Ways Military Recruiters are like Realtors

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Man in a blue suit sitting at desk with computer paperwork and glass of water

Would you purchase a house without consulting a realtor? What about transitioning out of the military and starting a civilian career without the help of a military recruiter?

Brian Henry, Senior Vice President at Orion Talent, breaks down the top five ways military recruiters are like realtors, and how you can utilize this resource to achieve the best possible outcome – a rewarding career after the military.

A trusted advisor to help steer you in the right direction.

“A realtor knows his/her market, and a good one is going to get to know his/her client and understand their wants and needs, and then offer solutions that align with their stated goals,” Brian explained. “They have years of experience in the market and can advise their client to zero in on the right locations and types of housing that will meet their need.”

Similarly, a military recruiter has experience in their niche of the job market and has worked with hundreds of different companies and types of jobs. “After getting to know a candidate’s background and preferences, they are able to provide insight on the types of roles that the candidate is qualified for and confirm the expected salary ranges and availability of those opportunities in the locations the candidate desires,” Brian stated.

While anyone can browse the internet and search for homes for sale, a realtor will use his/her established network to streamline the process and find “off-market” deals or hot leads on houses that are just coming on the market.

“In a similar manner, job seekers can engage with an experienced military recruiter who will have access to ‘off market opportunities,’ and many other positions that have an urgency to hire,” Brian explained.

Their fees are not paid by you, but by the client companies.

As a home buyer, you get the services of a professional realtor, but their commission is paid by the seller. As a job seeker, you get to tap into the services of a military recruiter and all those their team without having to pay anything for that service.

In the case of military recruiters, the company that ultimately hires you will pay the fee for the services of the military recruiter. “Contrary to some myths, that fee is NOT taken out of your salary. It is a fee negotiated between the recruiting firm and the company that is typically a percentage that is based on your first year’s base salary,” Brian explained. “The higher your salary, the higher the fee to the military recruiter. Truly a win-win scenario!”

They do the heavy lifting.

A realtor will scour the MLS, coordinate with sellers and other agents, and schedule a day of house hunting, getting you access to pre-selected homes to see first hand outside of an open house setting.

With a military recruiter, you can get similar filtered access directly to the decision makers inside a company. “At an Orion Hiring Conference, you are not just attending an ‘open house’ or job fair. You are invited to a professional event with detailed information sessions, interview preparation seminars and scheduled one-on-one interview sessions with the company representatives you have been matched with, based on your background and preferences,” Brian said.

Additionally, military recruiting firms have a staff of Account Executives that are working every day to find new companies with vetted openings. “In the case with Orion, those companies are specifically interested in and want to hire candidates with a military background,” he explained.

They help with every step of the process.

A realtor will work with their client all the way through the process from finding the right home, negotiating and writing up the offer, and finally closing the deal.

A military recruiter is there to do the same thing, from resume and interview preparation, specific company briefings, giving feedback throughout the process, and providing assistance in negotiating and accepting a position. “Another benefit of using a military recruiter is that the military recruiter is likely to have inside knowledge. They may know if you are competing with three other candidates for the same position, give you key advice that helps you win the job, or help you in a situation where you have multiple offers come in at the same time,” Brian added.

They help land your new career – and are there if you need help in the future.

A realtor builds their business based on referrals. They want to put you into a home and deliver a great experience, and their hope is that you will refer your friends. Also, when the time comes for you to sell your home, they hope you will come back to them for your next move.

Similarly, military recruiters thrive on recommendations of past candidates. “The best thing a candidate can do to ‘pay’ the military recruiter for their services is to refer others,” Brian explained.  “The relationship with the military recruiter does not end with taking that first job. We have seen many candidates promoted to Hiring Managers and come back to us looking for people to add to their team. In cases where someone needs to make another career move, they can quickly re-engage with the military recruiter to kick start the next search.”

Source: Orion Talent

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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military working dogs stamps

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.

Make Your Next Job Fair Be Your Last

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veteran standing outside convention center wearing a suit carrying a briefcase

Job fairs are a great opportunity to network and be proactive in the employment process. In order to make the most of these opportunities, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve.

Prepare for the job fair like you would for an interview, have a plan for when you arrive, make a good impression with the recruiters, and be sure to follow up with any connections you make.

Here are some other ways to make the most of your next job fair:

•    Research: The week prior to a job fair, find out which companies are participating and learn more about them. What are some interesting things the company is currently working on? Does the company have new leadership or a new product? These tidbits can be used as conversation starters that will impress a recruiter and possibly open the door to a new opportunity for you.

•    Dress for an interview: Job fairs typically involve on-the-spot interviews, so present yourself as you would for any other kind of interview. A suit is most appropriate, even if you’re applying for a technical job. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

•    Prepare: For your top employment choices, consider preparing folders that include your resume, cover letter, recommendations and appropriate work samples.

•    Carry plenty of business cards: Give the business cards to recruiters and other job seekers you meet. They need not be expensive or fancy. A simple design will do. Make sure they contain your name and contact information: phone number, email and address.

•    Organize: You may want to carry a portfolio or clipboard to easily manage and collect information. Be sure to have a pen for taking notes.

•    Relax, breathe and smile: Do your best to make a strong first impression.

•    Walk around: Get the lay of the land, see where your top companies are located and plan your connection strategy.

•    Network: Talk to other job seekers and ask questions. Find out what types of positions they’re seeking, and tell them a little about yourself. You never know who they might know, or if you might be able to help them with an introduction. Don’t hesitate to exchange information if you make a connection.

•    Visit booths: You may want to start by practicing your personal pitch with recruiters who represent companies that may not be your top choice. Have a list of companies you really want to visit and check them off as you go. This will keep you from introducing yourself to the same recruiter twice by accident. Listen to the “interviews” in front of you to get an idea what to expect and develop questions based on what you hear.

Speaking to recruiters
•    Connect: Make eye contact, smile, state your name and shake her or his hand. Use a prepared elevator speech—a 10-second summary of your bio, your skills and your achievements. Make sure to rehearse the speech until it becomes comfortable.

•    Listen: Pay attention, respond to questions and ask for more information. When appropriate, hand your resume to the recruiter and pause for them to do a quick review. Be prepared for questions about specific examples of your experience.

•    Keep it brief: Recruiters are typically swamped, so be mindful that your conversation may be limited to a few minutes. If appropriate, ask questions about next steps, applicant qualifications or any suggestions they may have for you.

•    Get recruiter contact information: Request a business card, and if one is not available, ask the recruiter for their email address. Conclude the conversation by thanking them for their time.

•    Step aside: Make time to write conversation notes before you move on to the next recruiter. If the previous recruiter mentioned she went to Florida State, capture that information. If she told you the company will hire for your desired position soon, write it down. Summarize your job fair experiences immediately in order to take full advantage of the event.

•    Call or email: After a few days, call or send an email, thanking the recruiters for their time and the information they provided. If you send an email to the recruiter who mentioned she went to Florida State, it is appropriate to write, “I’m the administrative assistant at the job fair who discussed Florida State with you.” That reminder could help her recall the conversation. Just taking the time to follow up will separate you from many job fair attendees.

•    Stay in contact: If the recruiter responds back to you, stay in contact. Keep an eye open for articles about their organization or industry and don’t hesitate to forward them on with a note. If you see the perfect job for you in their organization, and you’re qualified, apply for the position and then email the recruiter and let him or her know you applied.

•    Build your network: If you connected with other job seekers and traded contact information, you should follow up with them as well. You never know when they might have a job prospect for you, or vice versa.

If you need information or personalized assistance with your employment search, or have questions about education opportunities, visit the Military OneSource SECO page, or call 800-342-9647 to talk with a career coach.

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

A Guide to Pursuing an MBA

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veteran student

By Ron Kness

Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in and feeling like you belong there.

If the school or business is veteran friendly, you will feel like you are “part of the family”—just like when you were serving. Others around you will understand the military lingo that you still use.

They can relate to your experiences when you need someone to talk to.

And if you have this comfort level, you will do better in your coursework or at your job.

Even though the MBA program or job may seem like a perfect fit in the beginning, you’ll soon question if you made the right choice if that veteran friendliness is lacking.

Is Your MBA program military friendly?

Choosing an MBA degree program is an important educational and career decision. After all, an advanced degree serves as a key to career advancement—with the company, position and experience being other factors. Just the difference in starting wage between having an undergraduate and MBA degree is significant—$54,000 versus $70,000 (minimum) respectively. Graduates from the top MBA programs start at six figures right out of school. Run the salary difference between the two types of degrees out over a 30-year career and the number is staggering.

But the first mission is choosing an MBA program. While only you can make the final choice, here is a thought-provoking checklist to help you arrive at a decision:

Does the school have a veterans’ association chapter on campus?

Once out of the military, veterans miss the comradery. Schools having a veterans’ association on campus not only gives veterans a place to meet, but gives the school administration ideas on how to make a veteran’s experience better while at their school.

Is the MBA program also offered online?

Many veteran students are also stay-at-home dads, struggle with PTSD or just like the flexibility of being able to study whenever the time fits into their busy schedule, so an MBA program being offered online can be a deciding factor. More and more, schools are offering the same MBA program both on-campus and online … even with the same curriculum.

Is the school part of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

This can be a true indicator of just how much a school supports veterans. If they support an unlimited number of graduate students with a maximum contribution of at least $9,000 or more per year per student, they have a great Yellow Ribbon Program. It actually ends up being twice that amount because the VA will match whatever contribution the school provides – in effect doubling the amount.

Is the MBA cost-effective?

While cost won’t be much of an issue if attending a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or a private school under the same GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, it’s a primary consideration if not using either. While going the cheapest route is not always a good decision, going the most expensive may not be either. Choose a route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goals.

Does the school have an accreditation that is recognized by the career field?

Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates discovered their school’s accreditation wasn’t recognized by their chosen career field. Not only was it costly to get their degree but not any of it was of value in getting the job they wanted.

Funding MBA Programs for Veterans

Post 9/11 GI Bill

For veterans having entitlement left from their Post 9/11 GI Bill, this can be a major source of MBA funding. When shopping for schools, check the Weam’s School Search to see if the MBA program is in the school’s list of programs—double check by asking the question when visiting the school.

With the GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly up to the resident tuition cost and eligible fees. Monthly, students receive a housing allowance determined by the zip code of the school and number of credits taken. Also students receive up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.

One housing allowance difference to be aware of is for students taking all online courses—in this case students are limited to about half of what they would get if attending classes on campus. A loophole that still exists is to take one class per semester that can be applied to your degree plan (and the rest of your credits that semester online) to get the increased housing amount.

Yellow Ribbon Program

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares to the VA how much they will waive in tuition as well as how many students they will accept into their YRP each year, the degree levels covered and the maximum contribution per student. The VA pledges to pay an equal contributed amount.

The Weam’s School Search shows on the first page if the school is a Yellow Ribbon School or not, or you can visit the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website to search by school.

Source: affordablecollegesonline.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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