Among the basic rules and regulations governing the VA home loan program are the guidelines for eligiblity for the VA home loan benefit. Who can apply for a VA mortgage loan and when?

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

VA Loan Eligibility Requirements

Among the basic rules and regulations governing the VA home loan program are the guidelines for eligiblity for the VA home loan benefit. Who can apply for a VA mortgage loan and when?

The regulations are different for service members depending on when they served, the nature of their service, and how much time was served in uniform. The VA offers a complete list of the time-in-service requirement for all members of the armed forces, starting with World War II veterans all the way to today's currently serving military members. Here are the Department of Veterans Affairs requirements for military members who served from World War II to the present.

These guidelines include the dates of service, discharge requirements, and time-in-service rules:

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.

Surviving Spouses: Some spouses of veterans may have home loan eligibility. They are:

-- the unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of service or service-connected causes

-- the surviving spouse of a veteran who dies on active duty or from service-connected causes, who remarries on or after attaining age 57 and on or after December 16, 2003

-- the spouse of an active duty member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. Eligibility under this MIA/POW provision is limited to one-time use only.

Many of the eligibility periods cited in this list require a discharge characterized as "other than dishonorable". That terminology sometimes causes confusion--it's easy to assume that only those with honorable discharges may qualify for a VA mortgage loan, but this is not necessarily true.

However, VA loan applicants with discharges not characterized as honorable may require additional processing, paperwork and other formalities as part of the VA loan approval process. Borrowers with questions about their eligibility should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.

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