The month of September has been a busy one at Houghton/ Keweenaw County Veterans' Affairs office. As always, we are processing compensation and pension claims as well as applications for VA medical benefits. We encourage all veterans to come to the office for any veterans-related issue and we will try to help in any way we can.
There are several issues of importance to veterans this month.
We have received several inquiries about VA Home Loan Guarantees. The purpose of VA subsidized home loans is to help the veteran and active duty personnel finance homes with advantageous loan terms and interest rates. There are some misconceptions about how the loan is actually made. The VA does not directly lend the money to the veteran. VA loans are made by private lenders to the veteran and guaranteed by the VA. Thus, if the veteran fails to repay the loan, the lender is protected against loss. The VA loan guarantee service administers this program.
The VA guaranteed loans are offered with:
Equal opportunity for all qualified veterans.
Generally, there is no down payment unless required by the lending institution.
Closing costs may be lower.
No mortgage insurance premiums are generally necessary.
Assumable mortgages may be available.
VA loan guarantees can be used to:
Purchase a home and improve it.
Purchase, construct and improve a home.
Purchase a manufactured home.
Refinance an existing home loan.
Install energy efficient systems
The veteran must live in, or plan to live in the home to qualify. Loans are available for property located in the U.S., its territories or possessions.
Individuals qualify for home loan guarantees if their service falls into one of the categories below:
World War II September 16, 1940 July 26, 1947;
Post World War II July 26, 1947 June 27, 1950;
Korea June 27, 1950 February 1, 1955;
Post Korea February 1, 1955 August 5, 1964;
Vietnam August 5, 1965 May 8, 1975;
Post Vietnam May 8, 1975 September 7, 1980 (Special requirements);
Post Vietnam to 1990 (Special requirements check with us);
Persian Gulf After August 2, 1990;
Active Duty Personnel Continuous active duty for at least ninety days;
Reserve and other service call our office for specifics.
The procedure to obtain the loan:
Apply for certificate of eligibility (see our office)
Decide on a home for purchase
Get an appraisal from the VA
Apply to lender for loan
Close the loan
The VA does not "guarantee" the approval of the loan. This is done by the bank in the traditional way.
The economy is the topic of conversation these days and the Veterans' Affairs office is beginning to see an increase in applications for financial assistance.
Most of these applications involve requests for assistance with fuel for home heating during the winter. This is normal during the fall months but is especially true this year due to high home heating fuel prices. There are two main resources that we use for fuel assistance. Both programs have qualifications that must be met before we can help.
The first of the programs is the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, which is designed to help veterans with an emergent financial need. In order to qualify for this assistance program, a veteran must have at least 180 days of service during a war time period and demonstrate an emergent need for financial assistance.
The definition of emergent need involves a financial situation that was not foreseen and that the veteran must be able to solve the financial problem with the financial assistance provided by the trust fund. The situation should not be an issue involving budgeting issues. The situation should also not demonstrate a repetitive need. The questions to ask before applying for Trust Fund assistance are as follows:
What unforeseen situation occurred?
What financial emergency/hardship was caused?
What makes this situation temporary?
How does the Trust Fund grant resolve the situation?
How can the veteran pay in the future for this need?
If you have needs that meet these criteria, call the Veterans Affairs' office at 482-0102 to make an appointment to fill out an application.
For those who don't qualify for the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, we can take applications for the Houghton County Veterans' Affairs Fund. The qualifications are basically the same for this fund with the exception of the wartime service requirement.
For those who have financial needs in relation to lack of income or low income, the improved pension program may be a resource to check into. This program provides supplemental income to low income veterans. This program must be applied for through the Veterans Administration. There are three basic levels in this program:
Aid and Attendance
Each level provides a different amount of income based on the situation of the veteran. For eligibility requirements, contact our Veterans' Affairs office.
We need volunteer drivers for the DAV Van to transport to Iron Mountain for medical care. Please contact the Veterans' Affairs' Office if you can volunteer.
The Copper Country Veterans Association (CCVA) was formed to provide military rites when a veteran has answered the last call of the Supreme Commander. All local VFWs, American Legions, DAV, Fleet Reserve, and MCL organizations are members of the CCVA. Membership is also open to any veteran at $5.00 per year.
This year, the CCVA has honored our deceased veterans at more than 43 funerals. We provide the officers to read the ritual, firing party to fire a volley of three, Taps and the flag presentation to the next of kin. Our uniform consists of black trousers, white shirt and black jacket. We have outlets to purchase these items at minimal costs.
The average honor guard is nine members. We are in dire need of volunteers to join the honor guards. Your name will be placed on the on-call list and you will be notified by e-mail or telephone about a scheduled funeral.
If you are interested or have any questions, please call Jim Pintar at 482-0723 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We get many calls requesting information about dental benefits through the VA. These benefits are available but there are restrictions in relation to who is eligible. Veterans are eligible for outpatient care if they are determined by the VA to meet one of the following criteria:
Those having a service-connected disability.
Prisoners of war.
Those with service connected disabilities rated at 100 percent or those rated at 100 percent by reason of Individual Unemployablity (including temporary 100 percent ratings).
Those who participate in VA rehabilitation programs are eligible for care needed to complete their programs.
Recently discharged veterans with a service connected non-compensable dental condition or disability (length of service requirements apply).
Those having a service connected non-compensable dental condition related to a combat injury are eligible for care of the service connected condition.
Those whose dental condition has aggravated another service connected medical condition.
Other medically necessary dental treatments due to aggravation or complication of VA sanctioned treatments.
Call our office with question regarding dental benefits. Special cases may qualify in addition to the above requirements.
Regarding eyeglasses and hearing aids, the VA will provide access to audiology and eye care services. Eyeglasses and hearing aids will be provided to the following vets:
Those with any compensable service connected disability.
Prisoners of War.
Purple Heart recipients.
Aid and Attendance and House Bound Pension recipients.
Those who have hearing or vision impairments resulting from other conditions for which the veteran is receiving VA care.
Other special circumstances.
If you need eyeglasses or hearing aids, contact our office and discuss the above qualifications.
Contact our office for information, questions or to schedule DAV transportation;
Office hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday - Friday
James A. Klutts
County Service Officer
Drew Crouch DAV Van Coordinator
Houghton/Keweenaw County Department of Veterans Affairs
23810 Airpark Blvd Suite 130
Calumet, MI 49913