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VA Loans: Who is Eligible and When?

One big question on the minds of VA home loan applicants has to do with eligibility. VA loans have been around for a long time, and the program has changed a great deal since the early days. Because of those changes, there’s no one-size-fits-all eligibility for service members. A great deal depends on when a veteran started their military service.

Fortunately the Department of Veterans Affairs breaks down the eligibility for veterans by classifying them in and around the periods of time identified by major conflicts such as World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War. I’m including this list, reprinted directly from the Department of Veterans Affairs official site, to help agents and buyers alike determine their eligibility. As you’ll see, there are varying requirements for time in service, discharge characterization and other factors.

In another blog post, I’ll define some of the terms found here and explain what things like “Other than honorable” discharges are and what classifies as a “service-connected disability”. To those of us familiar with these terms they seem fairly easy to understand, but for people who don’t deal with military jargon on a regular basis they can be very confusing until you learn the rationale behind the lingo. Here’s the list of eligibility criteria.

Periods of Eligibility:

World War II: (1) active duty service after Sept.15, 1940, and prior to July 26, 1947; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) at least 90 days total service unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.

Post-World War II period: (1) active duty service after July 25, 1947, and prior to June 27, 1950; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) 181 days continuous active duty service unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.

Korean War: (1) active duty after June 26, 1950, and prior to Feb. 1, 1955; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) at least 90 days total service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.

Post-Korean War period: (1) active duty after Jan. 31, 1955, and prior to Aug. 5, 1964; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; (3) 181 days continuous service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability.

Vietnam War: (1) active duty after Aug. 4, 1964, and prior to May 8, 1975; (2) discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and (3) 90 days total service, unless discharged early for a service-connected disability. For veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is Feb. 28, 1961.

Post-Vietnam period: (1) active duty after May 7, 1975, and prior to Aug. 2, 1990; (2) active duty for 181 continuous days, all of which occurred after May 7, 1975; and (3) discharge under conditions other than dishonorable or early discharge for service-connected disability.

24-Month Rule: If service was between Sept. 8, 1980, (Oct. 16, 1981, for officers) and Aug. 1, 1990, veterans must generally complete 24 months of continuous active duty service or the full period (at least 181 days) for which they were called or ordered to active duty, and be discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

–Exceptions are allowed if the veteran completed at least 181 days of active duty service but was discharged earlier than 24 months for (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) service-connected disability.

Gulf War: Veterans of the Gulf War era — Aug. 2, 1990, to a date to be determined — must generally complete 24 months of continuous active duty service or the full period (at least 90 days) for which they were called to active duty, and be discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

–Exceptions are allowed if the veteran completed at least 90 days of active duty but was discharged earlier than 24 months for (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) service-connected disability.

Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they were activated after Aug. 1, 1990, served at least 90 days, and received an honorable discharge.

Active Duty Personnel: Until the Gulf War era is ended, persons on active duty are eligible after serving 90 continuous days.

Bruce Reichstein

About Bruce Reichstein

Bruce Reichstein is an Expert on (VA) Military/Veteran Home Loan Guidelines for over 26 years. He is an experienced VA Loan Mortgage Banker who is passionate about assisting US Military Veterans utilize their Veteran Eligibility to purchase a home.

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