How Can I Get a VA Home Loan?

LinkedIn
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

Military spouses can now apply for ‘game changing’ employment program

LinkedIn
woman veteran searching online with her laptop on table

By Karen Jowers

More than 500 military spouses have registered for a new paid fellowship program, applying to be placed with civilian companies seeking full-time employees.

The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot program is free to employers, and spouses will be paid by the Defense Department during their 12-week fellowships.

It’s open to spouses of currently serving members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force, to include active, reserve and National Guard components. Spouses can find information about how to apply at the Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Opportunities website. MySECO has a variety of resources and programs to help spouses.

DoD officials announced the launch of the three-year pilot program Thursday, but registration opened for military spouses on Dec. 23. More than 800 spouses have initiated the first step of the registration process; of those, 500 have completed the registration, said DoD spokesman Army Maj. Charlie Dietz.

Military spouses typically move every two, three or four years, and their unemployment rate hovers around 21%, much higher than in the civilian community.

Companies interested in applying to participate can learn more and sign up on the Hiring Our Heroes website, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Through Dec. 31, 25 employers had registered to participate in the pilot program, Dietz said.

DoD officials expect the first cohort of spouses will be placed with participating employers this month. The pilot program will run for three years and applications will be accepted throughout those three years. Employers can also apply to participate on a rolling basis throughout the length of the program.

Spouses who are accepted will participate in a 12-week paid fellowship program with training and mentoring. They’ll be placed with host companies that match their location, education and work experience, employer needs and other factors.

DoD officials expect the first cohort of spouses will be placed with participating employers this month. The pilot program will run for three years and applications will be accepted throughout those three years. Employers can also apply to participate on a rolling basis throughout the length of the program.

Spouses who are accepted will participate in a 12-week paid fellowship program with training and mentoring. They’ll be placed with host companies that match their location, education and work experience, employer needs and other factors.

Read the complete article on Military Times.

Oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor marks 105th birthday

LinkedIn
Joseph Eskenazi and large family

By Kevin McGill, The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Flag-waving admirers lined the sidewalk outside the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Wednesday to greet the oldest living survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as he marked his upcoming 105th birthday.

“It feels great,” Joseph Eskenazi of Redondo Beach, California, told reporters after posing for pictures with his great-grandson, who is about to turn 5, his 21-month-old great-granddaughter and six other World War II veterans, all in their 90s.

Eskenazi turns 105 on Jan. 30. He had boarded an Amtrak train in California on Friday for the journey to New Orleans. The other veterans, representing the Army, Navy and Marines, flew in for the event.

(Pictured) World War II veteran Joseph Eskenazi, who at 104 years and 11 months old is the oldest living veteran to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor, sits with fellow veterans, his great grandchildren Mathias, 4, Audrey, 1, and their grandmother Belinda Mastrangelo, at an event celebrating his upcoming 105th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

They were visiting thanks to the Soaring Valor Program, a project of actor Gary Sinise’s charitable foundation dedicated to aiding veterans and first responders. The program arranges trips to the museum for World War II veterans and their guardians.

Eskenazi was a private first class in the Army when the attack occurred. His memories include being awakened when a bomb fell — but didn’t explode — near where he was sleeping at Schofield Barracks, reverberating explosions as the battleship USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese bombs, and machine gun fire from enemy planes kicking up dust around him after he volunteered to drive a bulldozer across a field so it could be used to clear runways.

“I don’t even know why — my hand just went up when they asked for volunteers,” Eskenazi said. “Nobody else raised their hand because they knew that it meant death. … I did it unconsciously.”

He was at the Army’s Schofield Barracks when the Dec. 7, 1941, attack began, bringing the United States into the war. About 2,400 servicemen were killed.

Eskenazi and his fellow veterans lined up for pictures amid exhibits of World War II aircraft and Higgins boats, designed for beach landings.

Read the complete article on Military Times.

Empowering Veteran Business Owners For Nearly 150 Years

LinkedIn
Alex McKindra pictured with father and grandfather

The McKindra family believes in two things: service and community. That’s what led Commercial Banking Managing Director, Alex McKindra to West Point, the Air Force, and now JPMorgan Chase. Here’s how he honors his family legacy by helping to empower veteran business owners.

From his years of service in the military to his current role as a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase—where he helps former soldiers build their own businesses—Alex McKindra Jr. is a veteran success story.

And his story has a long history, tracing back through generations of his family in the small town of Union Chapel, Arkansas.

Generations of Mentorship

In the late 1800s, McKindra’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Frank McKindra, moved his family to Union Chapel, a town originally settled by freed Black slaves.

Working on their family farm, the McKindras made a name for themselves by demonstrating their resourcefulness and aptitude for hard work. Namely, the family utilized mentorship programs, as well as public and private funding, to not only start but grow—and grow—their family farm.

Amid the success of the family business, the McKindras never lost sight of the support they had been given—and the importance of passing it on to others in their community and society. Generations of McKindras have dedicated their lives to the military and, subsequently, to their communities when they returned home.

“I would not be in the position I am today if not for the opportunities that mentorship provided,” says McKindra. “The farm my family was able to start, through the support and mentorship of others, has helped to educate and put clothes on every generation of my family since the 1880s.”

Paying It Forward

McKindra chose to honor his roots by following in his ancestors’ footsteps and joining the military. He graduated from West Point in 1993 and then completed a tour of duty serving as Captain in the United States Air Force.

Armed with the life experience and knowledge he gained from the service—and a freshly-minted MBA from the University of Southern California—McKindra dove into the world of corporate finance. Quickly building a reputation for his intelligence, reliability and kindness, he rose through the ranks. Today, he works as a Managing Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.

Amid his own success, McKindra’s also wanted to help those who—like his great-great-grandfather Reuben—had risked their lives for the country and were now seeking to put down roots as civilians.

At JPMorgan Chase, he continued to advocate for veterans, ultimately becoming co-lead of JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s veteran initiatives program, alongside Army veteran Terry Hill.

Currently, McKindra and Hill are working with JPMorgan Chase and Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit, to build programs to help veteran small business owners. Together, they created CEOcircle, a 13-month mentorship program that is tailored to help mid-size, military-connected companies grow. Through this program, veteran business owners and their families gain access to the guidance and resources they need to succeed, including education, networking, and one-on-one financial mentoring from JPMorgan Chase advisors. The program empowers businesses that will support military families for generations to come—businesses like the McKindra farm.

The new program launched nationally last year and will welcome its second cohort of 80 military-connected businesses this November.

“If my great-great-grandfather were here today, I would want him to know that what he built didn’t just support our family, it also instilled the values in us that would seed the acceleration and growth of hundreds of other veteran-owned businesses in the future,” McKindra says. “I know he’d be proud of that.”

In the past decade, over 16,000 veterans and service members have transitioned their military skills into civilian careers at JPMorgan Chase. Through our programs and initiatives, our goal is to position military members, veterans and their families to thrive in their post-service lives. Learn More.

What to Consider Before Moving Post-Military

LinkedIn
Close up of male hand packing property in cardboard box with spouse in the background

The day will come when you’re preparing to transition out of the military. You might have spent time thinking about where you want to live when this day arrives. As you decide where to live after your military separation, it’s helpful to consider:

  • Your family’s wishes
  • Career opportunities
  • Education
  • Cost of living

Talk with your family

The decision about your next home will affect the entire family, so include them in every step of the process. Here are some things you might want to think about:

  • Career and educational opportunities— Do you want to start a new career? Does your spouse want to continue their career or start a new one? What about the kids? Where are the best schools? Base your decisions on what will be good for the whole family.
  • Extended family— How close do you want to be to your extended family — “See you tomorrow” close, or “See you on holidays” close? Take a careful look at your hometown and evaluate the job market, schools and cost of living.
  • Career goals— The Department of Defense’s mandatory Transition Assistance Program will help you prepare for life after active duty. Whether you plan to pursue a civilian job, continue your education or join the Reserves, the Transition Assistance Program will help you develop a plan and make sure you are ready to pursue your goals. In addition, the Military Spouse Transition Program provides guidance to help spouses transition to civilian life, including starting or continuing a career

Consider your options

Make a list and prioritize what is most important to you, like job opportunities, schools, climate or cost of living. Then, do your research to find the best match.

The following can help you make the military-to-civilian transition a little easier:

  • Take advantage of resources like the CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center, sponsored by the Department of Labor. The Veteran and Military Transition Center website allows you to access free interest and skills assessments, explore civilian careers and education options, search for jobs, learn about benefits and much more.
  • Search websites — Many websites can help you find the best places to live by letting you order the importance of categories like education, crime rates, climate and housing costs. You can narrow your search by preferences or compare your favorite cities.
  • Find local information — Eligible users can search for local community information on the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website. On the home page, after the words “I’m looking for a …” choose the option “State resources.” Then click on the words “VIEW ALL STATE RESOURCES” located under the magnifying glass. This brings up a list of all 50 states. Click on any state, then look for the box titled “Local Community Information.” Click on the link for eligible users. You will need to enter your Military OneSource user identification and password to access the tool.
  • Identify unique, personal preferences — Some preferences can’t be factored into a test or a website. You may want to live close to a military installation so you and your family can take advantage of military benefits. Or you may want to move near a particular reserve unit where you can train in a specialized area.
  • Weigh your options — Write down the available choices and assess the pros and cons of each. Use your list to help you look objectively at options.
  • Prepare for mixed emotions — Be prepared for different kinds of feelings as you transition from active duty. It’s normal to be nervous about big life changes like this. No decision is 100 percent guaranteed, but the better you prepare, the more likely you are to set up yourself and your family for success.

Access military support

Your relocation benefits include one final move from your last duty station within the time and geographic limits listed below. If you live in installation housing, you may be allowed one move out of housing into the local community and another final move within these limits. Check with your installation transportation office for details on benefits specific to your final move.

  • Retirement — You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your retirement date. (This is called a home of selection.)
  • Involuntary separation (honorable discharge)— You may be moved anywhere within the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) or to your home of record outside the United States within one year of your separation date.
  • Voluntary separation (honorable discharge)— You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation date. If you choose a destination of greater distance, you will be obligated to pay the additional costs.
  • General discharge (under honorable conditions)— You may be moved to your home of record (or an equal or lesser distance) within 180 days of your separation.

Once you have made your decision, contact your installation transportation office about scheduling your move. The earlier you start to plan, the more likely you are to get the move dates you want.

Source: MilitaryOneSource

Great Jobs for Veterans You May Not Have Considered

LinkedIn
air traffic controller looking out tower wimndow with headphones on

Law enforcement, IT management and the medical field are all career fields that you’ve been told are great for veterans. And while these jobs are fantastic for transitioning veterans in almost every way, they are far from the only options veterans can pursue in their post-military life. Suppose you’re looking for a career different from the “veteran norm” while still providing job security and reasonable salaries. In that case, one of these unique career profiles might be for you:

Dental Hygienist

Job Description: Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene.

They also educate patients about oral health. Their job tasks usually include teeth cleaning, taking x-rays, assessing oral health and documenting patient care.

Desired Skillset:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Dexterity

Education: Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene; they may also get a bachelor’s degree. Programs usually take three years to complete and offer laboratory, clinical and classroom instruction. Areas of study include anatomy, medical ethics and periodontics — the study of gum disease.

Annual Salary: $77,810

Air Traffic Controller

Job Description: Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of aircraft to maintain safe distances between them. They manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoff and landing and monitor aircraft as they travel through the skies.

Desired Skillset:

  • Communication
  • Multi-tasking
  • Decision-making skills
  • Math proficiency

Education: Candidates who want to become air traffic controllers typically need an associate or bachelor’s degree, often from an AT-CTI program. Bachelor’s degree fields vary; examples include transportation, business or engineering. Other candidates must have three years of progressively responsible work experience, have completed four years of college or have a combination of both.

Annual Salary: $129,750

School Principal

Job Description: Elementary, middle and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily activities. They coordinate curriculums, manage staff and provide students with a safe and productive learning environment. In public schools, principals also implement standards and programs set by the school district and state and federal regulations. They evaluate and prepare reports based on these standards by assessing their school’s student achievement and teacher performance.

Desired Skillset:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication

Education: Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs teach prospective principals how to manage staff, create budgets, set goals and work with parents and the community. Principals also need teaching experience.

Annual Salary: $98,870

Wind Turbine Technician

Job Description: Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain and repair wind turbines. They are usually responsible for inspecting wind turbine towers’ exterior and physical integrity, performing maintenance and repairs and collecting turbine data.

Desired Skillset:

  • Physical strength
  • Physical stamina
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Detail-oriented

Education: Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology. However, some workers choose to earn an associate degree. Windtechs usually acquire knowledge in mechanical systems, computers, electrical and hydraulic maintenance, first aid, rescue and safety and CPR.

Annual Salary: $56,260

Railroad Workers

Job Description: Railroad workers ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains and others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.

Desired Skillset:

  • Customer-service skills
  • Hearing and visual ability
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Leadership skills

Education: Rail companies typically require workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may prefer to hire workers with postsecondary education, such as coursework, a certificate, or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Locomotive engineers and conductors must be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Annual Salary: $64,150

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trade-schools.net

How ABC’s Stephanie Ramos Built Her Journalism Career While Serving In The U.S. Army

LinkedIn
ABC’s Stephanie Ramos sits in her anchor chair smiling

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a reporter. I started watching the news around 10th grade, and I was a big fan of WNBC. I learned that you could make so much of an impact on people’s lives as a reporter, and that really motivated me.

So, as soon as I got to college, I declared my major as broadcast journalism. While I was still in undergrad, 9/11 happened. As a native New Yorker, I wanted to do something for my country; I wanted to be a part of something bigger, and I was drawn to the military.

I initially planned to join the Marines, but I ran into an Army recruiter before my decision was final, and they were able to offer me a schedule that worked better for pursuing my education and military service at the same time. I started as an enlisted soldier; then, after completing basic training and receiving my master’s degree in mass communication and media studies, I was commissioned and became a public affairs officer. I started out as a private; now, I’m a major in the Army Reserve.

I moved my way up the ranks while moving around the country: in South Carolina, I worked as an assignment editor for WIS-TV; in Kansas, as a television news reporter for WIBW-TV; in Missouri, as an anchor for KMBC; in Washington, D.C., as a multi-platform reporter for ABC.

During that time, I remained in the Reserve, reporting to units that corresponded with each new location, participating in training exercises and taking military courses. In 2008, while I was in Kansas, I deployed to Baghdad for the first time for a year, serving as a historical ambassador at Camp Slayer in Victory Base Complex.

Initially, finding out I was being deployed was a shock, but I also knew that that’s what I signed up for. I had about a month to pack everything up, tell my employer, then take off. My employer was very understanding; we even did a lot of stories about me leaving: the process and the steps you have to take to put your civilian life on hold before deploying to another country.

Being away from home was hard at first; it was lonely. What I tried to keep in mind during that year was not to become complacent. While deployed, I volunteered with the Iraqi Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which was the most meaningful experience to me; they were so aware that they were in the middle of a war—they knew why we were there—and still, they just had so much joy. I could never get over that.

A lot of the luxuries that we have here, you don’t have over there. I realized that I don’t need much, as long as I have my health and my routine.

Eventually, when I returned home, I settled into my current role as an ABC News national correspondent, covering stories that range from military issues—including the murder of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old U.S. soldier who went missing in April 2020 and was later found to have been killed by fellow solider Aaron David Robinson inside an armory at Fort Hood, Texas—to mental health crises in Latinx communities to Miss USA cheating allegations.

Balancing two careers at the same time has been challenging, but my time in the military is also what helped me in the news business. Anything can be thrown my way, and I’m just like, “Everyone calm down, we can do this. It’s okay.”

Read the complete article originally posted on Women’s Health Magazine here.

Utilizing your COOL Benefits

LinkedIn
Young couple looking at family finance papers

Created by the Department of Defense, Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) is the result of extensive inter-service collaboration to facilitate credentialing of service members.

All services recognize the important role that occupational credentials can play in professionalizing the force and in enhancing the service member’s ability to transition to the civilian workforce upon completion of military service. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard each have their own service-specific COOL programs designed to match military occupations to civilian credentials (occupational certifications, licenses and apprenticeships) and provide resources to help Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen attain these credentials. The services disseminate this information on their own COOL websites.

What does COOL help me do?

DOD COOL contains resources and information on credentialing and the military for decision makers, leaders, agencies and other interested parties. It is intended as a workforce professionalization tool for active duty, reserve and civilian personnel to understand what their military training could translate to in the workforce and the professional development opportunities available in their career field. COOL is also a main hub for credentialing agencies and resources to help new veterans have a smooth transition into the civilian workforce.

The branch-specific COOL sites contain a variety of service-specific information about certifications and licenses related to military occupations. Use the branch-specific COOL sites to:

  • Get background information about civilian licensure and certification in general and specific information on individual credentials, including eligibility and testing requirements and resources to prepare for an exam.
  • Identify licenses and certifications relevant to individual military occupations.
  • Learn how to fill gaps between military training and experience and civilian credentialing requirements.
  • Learn about resources available to service members that can help them gain civilian job credentials.

Depending on qualifications and specifics, COOL can also fully cover the costs associated with certain credentials needed for your civilian career.

That being said, COOL is not a credentialing agency or testing center in and of itself. Service members do not get credentials from COOL or take tests or purchase training materials through COOL. It also doesn’t create credentialing standards, nor is it reserved exclusively for veterans, being used primarily by service members.

What does my branch COOL website provide?

For ease of use, the COOL sites are all organized in the same way. The key differences among the sites are the personnel categories covered and the scope of credentials paid for by the respective service. The following highlights the similarities and differences:

    Army

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information, including Promotion Points, Skill Level and Star credentials
  • Credential payment for all credentials listed on Army COOL
    Warrant Officer:

  • Credential information
  • Credential payment for all credentials listed
    Officer:

  • Credential information for select Advanced Operations Courses
  • Credential payment for all credentials listed on Army COOL
    Navy

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information
  • Credential payment for all credentials directly related to the rating or to an embedded skill set
    Officer:

  • Credential information, including Cybersecurity Workforce (CSWF)
  • Credential payment for certain mandatory credentials
    DOD civilians:

  • Credential information, including Cybersecurity Workforce (CSWF)
  • Credential payment for certain mandatory credentials
    Air Force

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information
  • Credential payment for all credentials directly related to the rating or to an embedded skill set
    Marine Corps

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information
  • Credential payment for all credentials directly related to the rating or to an embedded skill set
    DOD civilians:

  • Limited credential information, for Cybersecurity Workforce (CSWF)
  • Credential information for select federal occupational series with more to be added on an ongoing basis
    Coast Guard

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information
  • Credential payment for all credentials directly related to the rating or to an embedded skill set
    DOD Civilian

    Enlisted members:

  • Credential information

To learn more about COOL and your branch specific website, visit cool.osd.mil.

Source: DOD COOL

U.S. Veterans Magazine Wins Two Awards in One Week

LinkedIn
Tonya Kinsey smiles while holding award in her hands

U.S. Veterans Magazine, the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families, has been awarded two prestigious awards in just one week.

The first award was received on November 7th from Veterans Legal Institute (VLI). Each year, VLI reviews the contributions given by their partners and chooses a group to recognize for their continual support of veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine was the recipient of VLI’s Community Partner of the Year award for its dedication and contribution to veterans.

The second award was received just a few days later, on November 9th from the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC). Every year, the Board of Officers at NVBDC reviews the activity of their corporations, members, certified veterans and partners, and recognizes individuals and groups for their dedication to going above and beyond to support veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine and its Partnerships Division Lead, Tonya Kinsey, were the recipients of the Media Partner of the Year Award.

“I am extremely proud of the work U.S. Veterans Magazine is doing through important organizations that value our veterans and give them vital resources when they most need them,” Kinsey stated of the honor, “I have worked closely with both organizations to help them expand their platform and highlight their stories.  We truly value their partnerships and are honored to have received recognition from both organizations!”

“We are so honored to receive these awards from these two veteran-focused organizations,” U.S. Veterans Magazine Publisher and Founder, Mona Lisa Faris, said of the awards. “Our partnership with each of these organizations works so well because our mission statements align. We were created to help veterans advance and both VLI and the NVBDC have the same goal.”

About U.S. Veterans Magazine

U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM) is the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families. USVM is the link between the qualified students, career and business candidates from the ranks of our nation’s veteran organizations, educational institutions, corporate America and the federal government. We provide our readers with relevant and timely information about employment, recruitment, supplier diversity, education, wellness and benefits. We recognize the immense value veterans offer as employees, and link job seekers with companies eager to hire them. Our publication connects entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their businesses, and for those seeking educational prospects and scholarships, we share the information they need to support their academic success. Visit our official website at https://usveteransmagazine.com/

About Veterans Legal Institute (VLI)

Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI) is an organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, disabled, at risk and low-income service members with opportunities for healthcare, housing, education, employment and more. VLI is dedicated to help current and former service members foster a sense of self-sufficiency for the future. To learn more, visit their official website at https://www.vetslegal.com/

About the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the original Veteran-Owned Business Certification organization developed by veterans, for veterans. The NVBDC is dedicated to providing credible and reliable certifying authority for veteran-owned businesses of all sizes to ensure that valid documentation exists for veteran status, ownership and operational control. The organization even offers a FASTRACK process, allowing businesses who are already certified with other certifiers to qualify for Veteran-Owned Business Certification in as little as 30 days. To learn more, visit their website at https://nvbdc.org/

A Letter From the Editor–What’s Your Legacy?

LinkedIn
Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.

By Danielle Jackola

As we honor the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I had the privilege of speaking with Jan Scruggs and learning about “The Story Behind the Wall” (page 12). Our conversation prompted some introspection, and I considered my legacy.

As a MilSpouse, I have dedicated my time and treasure to serve our military and military families. My husband retired five years ago. I have continued as a mentor and volunteer by connecting veterans and their spouses to employment opportunities.

There are many ways people are called to a life of service.

In our Veterans Day issue, we celebrate you and commend your service to our country. Many of you continue to serve our military, veteran organizations and your communities in various capacities, working to improve the world.

As The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley has had an enduring impact on music and his fans. When Presley was drafted into the Army in 1957, he was eager to prove to naysayers that he could make it as a Soldier. He was “proud of his service” and continues to be the most famous veteran. In our cover story, we reflect on Presley’s time in the Army on page 86 and recognize other “Famous Veterans Throughout History” on page 64.

In this issue, we share Hot Jobs on page 10 for those seeking employment or a career change. For business owners taking the “First Steps on the Road to Certification” to expand their business, visit page 60 to get started. The “PACT Act Passed,” and we share everything you need to know on page 126, including how to file a claim.

On Veterans Day and throughout the year, U.S. Veterans Magazine honors you. We stand in gratitude for your commitment, bravery and the sacrifices you have made in service to our country.

— Danielle Jackola
Editor, U.S. Veterans Magazine
Sr. Manager of Veteran Affairs

Image caption: Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/Cq-Roll Call, Inc. Via Getty Images

Taking the Initial Steps to Certification

LinkedIn
Successful businessman clarifying provisions of contract with business partner, discussing terms of agreement, explaining strategy or financial plan

By Natalie Rodgers

If you’re a business owner, then you may already be aware of the basics of Veteran-Owned (VOBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVOBE) business certifications. But going through the process to actually obtain the certification can be daunting, especially when considering the paperwork and fees that often go into the process. However, even if your business is thriving by your standards, earning your certification can take your business to new heights. Some of the benefits that certification can bring to your business include:

Funding Opportunities

Money is helpful no matter what kind of business you run, and certification opens the doors to funding opportunities that other businesses can’t access. Every year the government puts aside 23 percent of all of their contracts for small businesses, with 3 percent of that total going specifically towards VOBE and SDVOBE businesses. However, to be eligible to compete for these funds, you have to be a VOBE or SDVOBE certified business. Depending on the network you use to earn your certification, you may also become eligible for other funding opportunities through your certifier.

Corporate Partnerships

Businesses work with other companies all the time, but what a lot of people don’t know is that big name, Fortune 500 companies are often looking to work with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses to increase their supplier diversity efforts. To find these small businesses, these companies go directly to small business certifiers like NAVOBA, the SBA and the VA. When you become VOBE or SDVOBE certified, you will be given access to networking opportunities that could gain you a deal with some of the biggest businesses in the country. These kinds of partnerships can lead to an increase of sales and publicity. Some of the top corporations who have dedicated their efforts to work with veteran-owned businesses include USAA, JPMorgan, FedEx, Lowe’s, T-Mobile, Hilton, Ford and many more.

Resources Galore

Even if you aren’t looking for government funding or corporate partnerships, certification can still benefit your business in tremendous ways. By becoming certified, you gain access to courses, classes, conferences and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business in every aspect. Through whichever certifier you choose, you can learn the best methods of filing your business taxes, handling payroll, marketing your brands, working with social media and so much more.

Veteran Connections

Being certified not only allows you to connect with big-name companies but to other veteran-owned businesses and the customers that support them. When you become certified, you have the perfect platform for connecting with other veterans on their entrepreneurial journey. This can lead to potential business partnerships, mentoring opportunities or even just friendships with other veterans.

So How Do I Get Started?

If the benefits of becoming certified are enticing, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by what may be required of you, remember that you are not alone. If hundreds of veteran-owned businesses across the country can become certified, then you can too. To simplify the process, start with our preparation guide.

  1. Choose the certification that’s right for you. This will depend on your business and your needs.

For those interested in federal contracts, try:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs: vetbiz.va.gov/vip

For those interested in private contracts, try:

  • National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): apps.adaptone.com/navoba
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC): nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page
  1. Gather your documents. The kinds of documents you need will depend on your specific program, but just about any certifier you choose will need the following:
  • Government issued ID
  • Your resume
  • Past tax returns
  • Articles of organization or incorporation
  • Operating agreement
  • Your DD214
  • Payroll information
  • VA Disability Documentation (SDVOSB certification)
  1. Utilize your certifying organization’s contacts. If you run into any trouble during the application process or just need clarity on what to do next, feel free to reach out to your organization via the email or telephone number provided on their website. They are willing to assist and want to help you get your certification.

 

Sources: NaVOBA, US Chamber, Fulton Bank, Veteran Owned Business Round Table, Indeed

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Leidos Video

USVM Commercial

lilly

Alight

Alight

About USVM

Heroes with Hearing loss

VIBN Conference

Robert Half

Upcoming Events

  1. 2-Week Virtual REBOOT Workshop
    January 9, 2023 - January 19, 2024
  2. City Career Fairs Schedule for 2023
    January 26, 2023 - November 1, 2023
  3. Live Virtual REBOOT Workshop
    February 6, 2023 - February 8, 2023
  4. From Day One: Houston 2023
    February 8, 2023
  5. National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates (NAAAS) Conference
    February 16, 2023 - February 18, 2023