There seems to be no end to the sacrifices we expect from our military service members.
They face hardship and danger, financial insecurity and separation from family, all in the name of duty and country. When they return from serving all of us, they shouldn’t also have to face sacrificing their homes.
And yet more than 20,000 veterans, active duty service members and reservists lost their homes to foreclosure in 2010, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosure filings rose 32 percent over 2008 levels in communities near military bases.
Thankfully, active duty personnel are shielded from some civil and financial obligations because of their service. These protections are spelled out in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, which President Bush signed into law in 2003.
The legislation, which built upon the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, provides relief to military members and their families in a number of areas, including:
Under the SCRA, qualified veterans can get a lower interest rate for up to 12 months, and recently discharged service members can also push back evictions or foreclosures for up to nine months.
In order to qualify for certain protections available under the Act, a veteran’s obligation must have originated prior to the current period of active military service.
The SCRA actually provides many more protections than those listed above. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the SCRA must be read with “an eye friendly to those who dropped their affairs to answer their country’s call.”
Mortgages backed by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and some private mortgage lending companies also have programs in place to assist active duty service members in financial trouble.
Active duty borrowers and veterans alike should contact their mortgage lenders as soon as difficulty arises, whether it’s difficulty in making payments now or anticipation of financial problems in the near future.
Service members with and without VA-backed loans can also contact their nearest VA Regional Loan Center for help.
Photo courtesy of USAG-Humphreys