There are currently 22,676 veterans of the United States Military living in this country. In the coming years this number is expected to rapidly increase. The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that between 2011 and 2016 over a million service members will be discharged. Approximately 200,000 transition from active duty to civilian life every year. This period of change is seemingly marred by high rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, homelessness and unemployment. The exact number of veterans suffering from PTSD is unknown, but widely accepted speculation puts the rate at around 33 percent for those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Annually, between 530,000 and 840,000 veterans are living on the street at some point during the year. While the unemployment rate among veterans is near the national average many former armed forces members complain of chronic underemployment. Segueing from solider to bystander is eased by the presence of stability, but is often categorized as anything but stable. Imagine how much more difficult an already rocky road is for veterans enduring a service related disability.
Since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars the total amount of veterans with disability ratings of over 70 percent (the VA determines disability benefit qualifications through a rating system 0-100 %) has dramatically risen. However, those with ratings of 40 percent have remained consistent with the 1985-2012 rates. The increase is attributed to troops suffering from injuries that would have cost them their lives during previous military engagements. More extensive disabilities call for a wider array of disability benefits.
• 5.5 million Veterans are living with some form of disability
• 3.4 million Veterans received their disability in service
• 588,000 Veterans have a disability rating of 70 percent or higher
• 2.9 million veterans are receiving compensation for their service related disability
• This compensation accumulates to $36.2 billion dollars annually
It is imperative that military members know what entitlements they stand to benefit from. For veterans with disabilities, who are interested in becoming homeowners, the VA home loan program offers the most sustainable method of purchasing property. Eligible borrowers are able to prosper from the loans no down payment requirement, lessened credit/underwriting guidelines, no private
mortgage insurance, refinance flexibility and notable service related disability options, including special mortgage consideration and omitted funding fees. Furthermore, disability compensation can be used to meet the home loans income requirements. Disabled veterans who own their home may be eligible for property tax exemptions available to veterans in most states, reduced real estate taxes can save service members thousands of dollars yearly. To determine your exact rate, contact the municipal assessor’s office in the area you reside.
Further aiding disabled veterans are grants intended to adapt housing to the specific needs of the individual. The Specially Adapted Housing Grant and the Special Housing Adaptation Grant are intended to be used for the construction of adapted housing or the modification of an owner occupied home. The SAH grant can be used for a maximum dollar amount of $67,555 and the SHA grant may be used for up to $13,511. A key difference between the two is that the SHA grant allows for the home of a family member to be modified, contingent upon the disabled veteran making the residence their primary home.
These grants provide for many housing adaptations, including ramps, stair rails, specialty bathroom fixtures and increased storage space, among many others.
Veterans are often called upon to make sacrifices most of us would never dream of making. This heroism cannot be ignored, although many solid entitlement programs are accessible, too many former members of the armed forces are overlooked, falling through the cracks of an unacceptable economic climate. We all need to do more to ensure the best for our best.
CMS VA Home Loan Centers, an organization sponsored by The Department of Veterans Affairs, working towards helping veterans and active duty members purchase affordable housing.