Chapter 2 in the VA Lender’s Handbook is dedicated to explaining all the details regarding eligibility and entitlements. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the last three articles in this series were almost exclusively about the Certificate of Eligibility, what appears on it, and how to get one. However, we’re going to delve into all the specifics of being eligible for a VA loan, and how the VA wants you to prove that you are eligible. In this article, we’re going to cover what the VA requires from you in order to prove that you served (or are serving) in the military and that you have served for the required amount of time. Since the requirements are different based on the situation the veteran is in, we’ll cover it piece by piece.
Discharged Veterans (Regular Military)
Generally speaking, all you should have to provide is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty. The DD-214 will typically provide any and all needed information to make a determination on whether you are eligible for the VA loan program. You do not need to provide the original; a copy will do as long as it is legible. The DD-214 should have been received by any veterans who were discharged after January 1, 1950. In the event that a person discharged from active duty before January 1, 1950, is applying for a home loan, the VA will accept any official documentation that indicates the length of service and the character of service rendered. For anyone separated from active duty after October 1, 1979, they should provide Member 4 copy of their DD-214 that includes the character of service and the narrative reason for separation.
Veterans Still on Active Duty
Active service members do not have a DD-214, so their requirements are a bit different. In order to establish proof of service, active service members must get a statement of service either signed directly by, or by the direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters they are attached to. There is not a standard form currently used to be the statement of service. Most statements of service are typed on military letterhead, but that is not a requirement. The requirements on the statement of service are that it must clearly show: the veteran’s full name, the veteran’s SSN or at least the last 4 digits, the date active duty began, the duration of any lost time, and the name of the command providing the information.
Discharged Reserve/Guard Members
Neither the Reserves nor the National Guard has a form similar in purpose and syntax to the DD-214, so the requirements for them to prove their service are a bit different. For those discharged from either the Army or Air National Guard, they should have an NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, or at least a retirements points statement. Either of these will suffice for proof of service. All discharged members of the Reserve and Guard should have received a retirement points statement that indicates the level and length of participation. These statements, so long as the copies are legible, will be accepted by the VA.
Current Reserve/Guard Members
The requirements for Reservists and Guards who are still serving are actually quite similar to active service members serving in full-time capacities. The potential borrower must obtain a statement of service signed by, or at the direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters they are attached to. The statement of service must show the following: the veteran’s full name, the SSN or last 4 digits of the SSN, the entry date of the applicant’s Reserve/Guard duty, and the name of the command providing the information. The statement must also specify that the applicant is an active reservist and not in a control group.
If a veteran cannot locate their respective proof of service, they can request to receive it through the VA benefits portal (http://www.ebenefits.va.gov), or by completing a Request Pertaining to Military Records (Form SF-180).