- I joined the Marine Corps in 1997 and recently retired after 24 years of military service.
- My family was working class, so I knew I had to achieve my financial goals.
- I used GI Bill to pursue higher education and got a VA loan to buy a house.
I joined the Marine Corps in 1997 as a reservist while studying at the State University of New York at Albany. I decided to join the Marine Corps because I was looking for a sense of adventure and purpose. Although the financial benefits of the military were a third incentive, it was beneficial to my growth.
As someone from a working class background, my family has struggled with the burden of paying for college. Moreover, my parents were not able to give me cash for a down payment on the house. Although my parents were always emotionally supportive, I knew I had to move on and present a better financial picture of myself than they had.
I enjoyed being a part of the Marine Corps throughout my college years and decided to go to Officer Candidate School. My female officer was sworn in a few days after I graduated from college and embarked on a 20-year journey where I served both in active duty and in the reserve. During that time, I served in Okinawa, Japan. Seoul, South Korea; and Stuttgart, Germany, and I also did a combat tour of Baghdad, Iraq.
Not only did I earn my education as a communications officer and travel the world, but I also had the opportunity to use some of the military’s financial benefits. Joining the Marine Corps filled some gaps in the lack of wealth for generations.
There are three things from my benefits package that have been very helpful.
1. The American Soldiers Act Helped Me Pursue Higher Education
As a reserve soldier, I received a limited GI bill for my undergraduate studies, which allowed me to keep my college costs low. Once I got the assignment, I qualified for full Montgomery GI Bell Education benefits. She joined graduate school in 2006, before submitting Armed Forces Bill after September 11.
Regular monthly payments from GI Bill have allowed me a year off full-time work to focus on my undergraduate and language studies. It covered my living costs while I paid for my studies with savings from my job, the proceeds from the sale of my first home, and a minimum amount of federal student loans. Also, being a reserve soldier gave me an additional source of income while living abroad.
I recently used my last $1,000 in GI Bill benefits to help pay for a degree in Digital Marketing from Cornell University. My advice is to monitor your educational benefits, as I wasn’t aware this funding was available until I contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs.
2. A VA loan helped me become a homeowner in the capital
When I returned to the United States after studying and working in Europe for six years, I moved to the Washington, DC area. The cost of housing in the metropolitan metro area is one of the highest in the country. However, one of my dreams was to own a tiny house in a row in Washington, DC.
There’s no way I would have been able to buy my own DC house if it wasn’t for VA loan interest, which waives your mortgage insurance and down payment. This meant that my partner and I didn’t have to pour all our savings into buying the house. We recently sold our house and made a profit big enough to secure a generational wealth for our daughter.
My advice to those looking to buy a home with an extension VA loan It is to find a realtor and a banker who has experience in the subject. military bank, Federal Navy, introduced a realtor who knows the best way to serve people with VA loans. We went from contract to closure in less than 30 days.
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3. My VA pension and health care gave me the security I needed to start my own business
When I left active duty, I knew I wanted to continue serving in the reserves. I loved my job in the Marine Corps, but I also wanted freedom of movement, which makes it a perfect fit. It also helped me feel confident to start my business because I always knew I had extra income from reserves and access to affordable healthcare. The Marine Corps Sanctuary also opens many doors in terms of communication, since many of our members are well connected.
Last year, I retired from my position in advance of 24 years of service. I will receive my pension when I am 58 (about the current value of $3,000 per month). As an entrepreneur, knowing that I will have a pension in addition to Medicare VA allows me to take more risks as I plan to retire.