4 digital benefits for the military and veteran community that you may not know about
There are a lot of really great benefits for the military and veteran community on the internet. From apps to websites to awareness campaigns, there are many places to share and learn for vets and service members. These are just 5, but they take up a large chunk of digital real estate with their impactful footprint.
Scout Military Discount App
SCOUT Military Discounts is a fantastic app available for both iOS and Android devices. With more than 125,000 military discounts SCOUT Military Discounts will be your go-to app for all military discounts. Googling military discounts and asking business owners if they offer a military discount will instantly be a thing of the past once you download this app.
The mission of SCOUT is simple: to make every military discount easily accessible to those who deserve it (including your favorite “mom & pop” shops without websites). Our goal is to have this valuable information at the fingertips of the entire military community.
America Works Campaign
In the digital age, the USPS is often snubbed, and the Veterans Service Organization, AMVETS, would like to change that.
The America Works campaign is by veterans, for veterans and is collecting responses to the question, “Why does America Work?” The responses are set to be displayed on the National Mall for Veterans Day, 2015 as a tribute to the military and veteran community.
This Veterans Day, 2015, let’s hear American pride ring out over the nation. Write down why you think America works on a napkin, a greeting card, a drawing, or a postcard, and send it to us via USPS or tweet a photo on Twitter. You can even write it on the back of your hand and snap a pic! We’re not picky. :) Remember to add the hashtag, #mericaworks. You can even print your own postcards here or fill them out digitally!
Designed by veterans, Sandboxx is the only mobile app that solves the pain points of military communication — allowing everyone in themilitary community to reconnect, stay in touch, post photos, share advice, memories and more all within one exclusive platform.
Sandboxx was founded by two veterans from different generations — one Iraq and one Vietnam. Cofounder, Major General Ray Smith holds two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts, and former Sgt. Sam Meek, second cofounder is a fourth generation marine who served two tours in Afghanistan.
Sandboxx provides active duty service members and veterans with the opportunity to find, connect and communicate with those whom they currently serve or have served with in the past all within one platform. The app’s Units feature digitally mirrors the military’s physical command structure with users entering the specific units in which they have served during their career — from division, brigade, battalion, platoon, etc. — as well as the dates in which they served.
RallyPoint was founded in 2012 by two military veterans at Harvard Business School to help make military life better. Backed by two of the US military’s recent Joint Chiefs of Staff, RallyPoint connects its members and gives them the best tools possible to succeed both while in the military, and beyond.
With RallyPoint, you can build out your professional network, connect with other members of the military and veterans in a safe environment, and explore career opportunities both within the military (PCS opportunities) and in the private sector.
In 2012, RallyPoint won the world’s largest startup competition (MassChallenge), and placed 2nd in the Harvard Business School Business Plan Competition. RallyPoint was first developed at the Harvard University Innovation Lab and now remains in the Boston area.
Everyone knows about the federal benefits available to veterans, but did you know many states also offer great benefits to their veterans? State benefits range from free college and employment resources to free hunting and fishing licenses. Most states also offer tax breaks for their veterans and specialized license plates, some states even provide their veterans with cash bonuses just for serving in the military.
We have compiled a handy summary of the benefits each state and territory offers, each summary page also has a link directly to the specific State Department of Veterans Affairs. Be sure to check it out, there may be a benefit available to you or your family that you didn't know about!
The VA Home Loan is the most powerful home buying tool on the market. It—and the GI Bill—literally reshaped post-War America, and it’s a big reason why the historic VA Loan Guaranty Program has surged since the housing crash.
Despite generations of historic success, though, several myths and misconceptions deter millions of Veterans and Servicemembers from partaking in this benefit. Part of the reason is the ongoing awareness battle–about 1 in 3 home buying Veterans didn’t know they had a home loan benefit, according to VA survey data. So let’s set the record straight regarding four common VA Loan myths.
Myth 1: This is a lousy loan product.
Fact: This is one of the best loan options on the market.
Qualified buyers can purchase up to $417,000 in most locations before needing to make a down payment. FHA loans require a 3.5-percent down payment, and many conventional lenders want at least 5 percent.
Having no mortgage insurance–a fixture of FHA loans and required for conventional loans without a 20 percent down payment–can save Veterans more than $200 every month.
It’s the same story with interest rates, which actually tend to run lower on government-backed loans. The average fixed-note rate on a 30-year VA Loan in March was 3.82 percent, compared to 3.99 percent for FHA loans and 4.11 for conventional, according to mortgage software firm Ellie Mae.
VA also limits what lenders can charge in closing costs. In addition, sellers can pay all of a buyer’s mortgage-related closing costs and up to 4 percent in concessions, which can cover things like prepaid expenses or even paying off collections and judgments at closing.
Myth: You need great credit to get one.
Fact: You don’t even need “good” credit.
VA Loans are more lenient than conventional when it comes to your credit history. In fact, VA has no credit limit, though it is true that VA lenders generally look for a 620 FICO score, which, in layman’s terms means “Fair” credit (followed by “Good” and then Excellent”). Conventional loans often require a 660 minimum credit score, although you may need more like a 740 to have a shot at the best rates and terms.
VA Loans also allow Veterans and active military to bounce back faster after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale. You can be eligible for a VA Loan two years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge; one year after filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy; and two years following a foreclosure. Some lenders have no required waiting period following a short sale.
With conventional loans, you’re usually talking about a four- to seven-year wait before being able to buy again.
Myth: VA Loans take forever to close.
Fact: They close as fast as the others, and they’re also more likely to close than both conventional and FHA loans.
There’s a lingering misperception that VA buyers are weighed down by bureaucracy and paperwork. The reality is greater automation and efficiency, and other improvements in recent years have helped the VA Loan Guaranty Program more than keep pace.
In March, the average conventional and VA purchase loans each closed in 44 days, according to Ellie Mae. What’s more impressive is that VA Loans are actually more likely to close than their conventional counterparts, which is great news for buyers and sellers alike.
The same Ellie Mae data show that 70 percent of the VA purchase applications made over the previous 90 days went on to close. That’s compared to 67 percent of conventional purchase applications and just 61 percent of FHA applications.
Myth: No down payment makes these risky loans.
Fact: VA Loans have been the safest on the market since the housing crash.
Despite the $0 down benefit, VA Loans have had the lowest foreclosure rate of any mortgage type for most of the last seven years.
VA’s sound appraisal process and common-sense requirement for discretionary income (known as residual income) are key factors in the program’s safety. But the single biggest reason is the Loan Guaranty Service’s dedication to helping Veterans keep their homes.
The program tracks every VA Loan in the country. Loan Guaranty employees get notified anytime a Veteran is more than 60 days behind on their mortgage. These foreclosure avoidance specialists contact the homeowner and intervene directly with lenders and servicers to find alternatives to foreclosure.
Since 2008, the Loan Guaranty Service has helped more than 320,000 Veterans and service members avoid foreclosure. That commitment has saved taxpayers more than $11 billion in foreclosure claim payments.
Myth: This is a one-time benefit.
Fact: Once you earn this, it’s yours for life.
This is not a one-and-done benefit. Qualified Veterans can use the VA Loan Guaranty Program over and over again. In fact, it’s possible to have more than one active VA Loan at the same time. Even losing a VA Loan to foreclosure doesn’t mean you’re no longer eligible.
Any one of these myths can keep Veterans and service members from exploring their hard-earned home loan benefits. Taken together, they highlight the need for continued education and greater awareness about this historic home loan program.
Chris Birk is the author of “The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits.” He is also director of education for Veterans United Home Loans. Nearly 330,000 people follow VA Loans Insider, his interactive VA Loan community on Facebook.
All current and former U.S. Military personnel
can learn to ride for free with H-D™ Riding Academy
To thank the millions of people who have courageously defended our country and everyone’s personal freedom to ride, Harley-Davidson is offering a free H-D Riding Academy New Rider Course for all current and former U.S. military personnel. The offer runs May 16 - September 13, 2015.*
To take advantage of this offer, fill out the form below. After it’s submitted, you’ll be given next steps on how to sign up for a course.
AboutFace is a website dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, Veterans can learn about PTSD, explore treatment options and, most importantly, hear real stories from other Veterans and their family members and get advice from clinicians who have treated thousands of cases of PTSD.
There are three sections to the site: Veterans, Clinicians and Families. Each section has a series of statements on the left and pictures of people on the right. Click on a person to watch what they have to say. If you like what you see, there’s an option to watch more of that individual. Or you can go back and watch another person on the same topic.
You’ll also find PTSD Profiles in the top navigation bar. These are short films in which Veterans tell the stories of what caused their PTSD and what they did to get their lives back on track.
AboutFace is produced by the VA's National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the world's leading center for PTSD research and education. The Center is committed to improving the well-being of American Veterans through the advancement of research, education and training in the science, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and stress related disorders.
The Veterans Legal Initiative was established in 2008 by the Houston Bar Association, Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers. The program provides free legal advice and legal representation to U.S. veterans. Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can get advice and counsel at one of the clinics offered by the VLI at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center or at one of the community clinics. Low-income veterans who need further legal representation in civil matters and meet eligibility guidelines can be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, a public service of the Houston Bar Association. The Veterans Legal Initiative is made possible by grants from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, the Houston Bar Foundation, and the United Way of Greater Houston Veterans Services Pilot Project.
To date, the program has served over 10,000 veterans with advice and counsel and/or legal representation. More than 450 attorneys have volunteered to assist with the Veterans’ Legal Initiative.
The VLI is now part of a coalition of bar associations in 18 Texas counties that provides free legal advice clinics and legal representation to veterans through clinics scheduled periodically in the following counties: Bell, Brazoria, Brazos, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, McLennan, Montgomery, Orange, San Jacinto, Travis Walker and Waller.
If you are a veteran with a question about legal services, contact:
Staff Attorney, VLI
713-333-VETS (8387) or Andrew.Lehmann@hvlp.org
Are you an attorney who would like to volunteer for the Veterans Legal Initiative? Click here here for volunteer form.
Free Friday Clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Every Friday, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., 2002 Holcombe, Houston, TX 77030
First Floor, near the Emergency Room Entrance
No appointment necessary
Upcoming Free Saturday Clinics
Saturday clinics are from 9:00 a.m. to noon, unless otherwise noted, and no appointment is necessary.
April 18: Pearland Veterans Clinic, American Legion Post 7109, 4202 W. Walnut, 77581, 9:00 a.m. until noon.
April 24: Bell County Veterans Clinic, Central Texas A&M Campus, Founders Hall, 1001 Leadership Place, Killeen, 76549, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
April 25: Katy VA Fair, VFW Post 912,6206 George Bush Drive, Katy, TX 77493, 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Co-sponsored with the Katy Bar Association
Certain positions within the VA health care system require specialized knowledge that can only be obtained through a two-year training program in the VA Technical Career Field (TCF) Program. These full-time training programs include salary, benefits, training, and travel.
Training for these programs is accomplished under experienced VA professionals known as preceptors. Chosen for their technical expertise and commitment to training, preceptors go through a lengthy application and screening process.
During the final year of training, preceptors work with trainees to find a position that best fits their skills, needs, and circumstances. With more than 150 medical centers and hundreds of clinics nationwide, it is possible that you will need to relocate for a position. All trainees are asked to sign a mobility statement before entering the TCF Program. If relocation is necessary for permanent placement, VA pays for moving expenses.
View the TCF 2015 list of training locations by career field.
We’re honored to help you take the next step in your career.
Evan Guzman helps veterans find fulfilling civilian jobs, and he’s using LinkedIn to do it. See how LinkedIn can help you, too. Watch Evan’s story.
Join a community, find more opportunity
Get your free 1-year Premium Job Seeker account to access advanced job search tools, stand out, and contact hiring managers. Then, join the Veteran Mentor Network (VMN) Group and discuss your transition and career plans in a community of veterans.
ACP’s Veteran Mentoring Program connects Veteran Protégés with Corporate Mentors for a yearlong mentorship. Paired based on their career objectives and professional experience, Mentors and Protégés define the goals of their mentorship together and focus on a successful transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Mentors have a wide variety of professional expertise, including defense, education, finance, insurance, information technology, logistics, management, manufacturing, marketing and retail.
Over the course of the year, all matched pairs should have at least 12 significant discussions regarding the Protégé’s career objectives. These discussions can focus on topics ranging from résumé building and interview skills to networking and small business development. Mentors may participate in all of the discussions personally or arrange for colleagues to meet with their Protégé.
ACP has developed two program options in order to offer mentorships to veterans across the country:
ACP's National Program supports remote mentorships between participants who share similar career interests, but do not live within local proximity. We ask Mentors and Protégés to be flexible regarding the location of their mentorship. Participants in long-distance mentorships communicate by phone, e-mail, and/or videoconference.
ACP's Local Programs operate in cities with high densities of participants. Because we aim to connect you with someone whose career objectives and professional experience aligns with yours, we may not always have an ideal candidate in your area. If your location lends itself to a local mentorship, we will do our best to pair you with a participant nearby.
ACP's mentoring program is open to all currently serving and recently separated veterans (including members of the Reserve and National Guard) who have served on active duty for at least 180 days since September 11, 2001. ACP's mentoring program is also open to surviving spouses and spouses of severely wounded post-9/11 veterans.
ACP accepts applications from those service members who do not meet the 180 days of active duty requirement, but who were injured while serving or training.
For exceptions to this policy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with an explanation of your circumstances, and ACP staff will consider your request.
Only individuals associated with our Participating Institutions are eligible to apply to be ACP Mentors. The ideal Mentor will have at least eight years of professional experience and is at least 35 years old. If you are not eligible to be a Mentor in ACP's Mentoring Program, please sign up to be an Advisor+ on ACP AdvisorNet.