Veteran Benefits Post Seperation
Today, the act of serving in the U.S Military offers various benefits to assist the men and women who served when they finally return home from duty. From my own experience I would like to explain to you the benefits you could be qualified for so you can make your transition easier. It isn't easy, when you first separate from active duty service it is normal not to know what to except from your transition back into the civilian world. People wont understand your military lingo, its not a bulkhead anymore its just a floor, it isn't a "head" anymore, its just the restroom, and so on. In some cases, people may not be able to relate to the jobs you did in the service depending on your assignment. You may find it difficult to find the right job, or wonder about using your education benefits. I would like to take a moment to talk about all these things and hopefully help you make some positive moves in your transition.
Between the two, which benefit fits you the best?
Education and Training
The education benefits that military service offers is no golden secret, its pretty well know by all vets and even people who are associated with them. How much is actually offered may surprise you though, lets talk about the various education and training benefits in depth and hopefully help you decide which is right for you.
Post 9/11 GI bill- The post 911 GI bill is extremely helpful and effective in the sense that it allows you to continue higher education at a college you are accepted to- but they also pay the school tuition fee directly so you never need to worry about making these payments unless you fail a course or withdraw from the course. On top of this, you are given a monthly housing allowance(MHA or BAH) based off the cost of living of the area the school is located. You will be entitled to 100% of this benefit if you attend campus classes full time, or for a lower percentage if you attend online courses or part time courses. Depending on the level of your benefit, you may also be qualified to receive a book allowance as well. If college is not something that is for you, this benefit can often times also be applied to a internship or other training programs. Just be sure to check with your local VA rep and see what your entitlements are. If you served in the US armed forces after September 11th 2001 in active duty for 30 days or more, you are qualified to use a percentage of this benefit and it increases in service time. The post 9/11 GI bill is good for 36 months of Education and/or Training and must be activated within 15 years after separation from active service.
Montgomery GI bill- Like the Post 9/11 BI bill, the Montgomery GI bill (MGIB) is used for higher education. Unlike its counterpart, the MGIB does not offer a monthly housing allowance or a direct payout to the school tuition. Instead this benefit pays you a lump some of funding upfront that you use to fund your school and cost of living while attending. In order to qualify for this benefit you would have needed to choose to pay into it. In most cases this is done during the early stages of military service. You can NOT use the MGIB with the Post 9/11 GI bill, you may only choose the one that supports your desires the most.
Other Financial Aid- Even with these two great options of Education and Training, there are many other financial aid programs out there. Among these is the "Yellow ribbon program". These other services may be able to help with your future as well depending on your situation, this will be on a person to person basis.
VA Home Loans
Buying a home can be a stressful, yet exciting experience. Veterans have access to a special loan offered by the VA to help this process be more satisfying.
The VA loan offers a lot of great benefits, but is also much stricter then most other every day loans. Before you decide if this is the right loan for you, lets discuss the pros and cons of the VA loan.
Down Payments- Your normal everyday loan historically requires a large lump some of the investors cash be put towards the piece of real estate during time of purchase. One of the major upsides to the VA loan is the down payment is COMPLETELY WAIVED. This is a huge bonus for your pocket, not having to come up with a huge chunk of cash upfront to purchase your home. However, keep in mind this does mean the entire loan amount will be higher in the long run.
Closing costs- For all you first time homebuyers- be sure to look into closing costs because they will still exist no matter what loan you get. These costs tend to be a few thousand dollars and will depend on the face value of the home you are buying. Another method would be considering on working the closing costs into the total loan amount/ however this may cause your interest rate to rise depending on your lender.
PMI- PMI costs are a huge pain when buying a home through a everyday home loan, with the VA loan these costs are completely waived a well. Huge plus.
Inspection and Quality- VA loans tend to be much stricter when buying property. You can not get a loan amount for more then the home is appraised for which may cause complication late in your process. The home inspection is also generally something you do for your own comfort and piece of mind. In most cases this is a requirement for closing on a VA loan, they also may insist on multiple fixes be done prior to closing depending on the homes condition. In short, if your home is move in ready you should not have to worry/ however if you are eyeing a "fixer upper" this may not be the best choice for you.
Interest Rates- In almost all circumstances the VA loan will offer a much better interest rate then you will find with any other everyday loan. This pays off considering you do not need to supply any down payment.
Career Centers- The VA offers Career Centers on a locational basis. These centers are helpful for veterans who have separated from service or are currently serving in the reserves who are seeking assistance finding employment. These centers can help you figure out a line of work you may enjoy doing and help you apply for positions in your area.
Hire Heroes Programs- There are also various programs out there that specialize assisting Veterans in finding work. These programs include but are not limited to (VOW to Hire Heroes/ We Hire Heroes/ US Jobs/ VetSuccess and more)
Health and Insurance
Health Insurance- Once you separate from service you may be eligible to receive Health care through the VA for up to 5 years, this benefit may increase if you have a service connected disability. This benefit does not include your spouse or dependents unless you have a service connected disability rating to meet the standards. Although, you may choose to roll over your Tri-care benefits for your family post military service.
Life Insurance- You may choose to roll over your SGLI military life insurance benefits at competitive rates post separation. This benefit may be increased if you have a service connected disability rating.
Disability- If you acquired a service connected injury that has impact on your life in anyway, you may be qualified to receive compensation for your injury, along with medical attention after separation. If you believe you may have been effected, you should visit your local VA hospital or VA center and speak with a VA rep who may be able to assist you with your claim.
Did you know about the Welcome Home Bonus before reading?
A lot of states if not all offer a "Welcome Home Bonus" for veterans returning home from active duty service. These benefits can range anywhere from $100 to nearly $1000 depending on where you served (Hazard zone/Combat zone ect) Unlike a lot of these benefits, this is actually pretty unknown to most veterans returning home. I advise you to contact your local VA rep and find out if you qualify for the Welcome home bonus. The only requirements would be to provide a copy of your DD form 214 and a stamped seal of residency from your town hall.