Monday, July 25, 2011

Veterans: Take Advantage of Your Housing Benefits

Guest post from Jessica Thorseon, who writes for VAHomeLoans.net, which assists veterans in accessing their benefits and finding low rate mortgages.

Veterans of the US Armed Forces have some of the greatest benefits when it comes to home buying. Right now, interest rates are as low as they have ever been, and house prices are historically low as well.

These aspects make now a great time for anybody to buy a home, especially service personnel who have additional benefits that make buying a home even easier and more affordable.

Veterans of the US Armed Forces are given certain benefits that enable them to purchase a home at a lower interest rate than those who have not served.

There are a few steps involved in acquiring these loans, but the process is not much harder than it is to get a traditional home loan.

First, the interested veteran needs to receive their DD 214 certificate. This certificate certifies that the holder did indeed serve in the armed forces and was honorably discharged and entitled to receive the full benefits that are granted to veterans.

Once the DD 214 is received, the potential home buyer simply needs to start looking for a home and speaking with a lender or mortgage officer who is licensed to deal with VA loans.

As with many things, the internet is a great resource to use to find a licensed lender. VA Home Loans is a great resource that can help you find a qualified lender in your state.

Once you have found a lender, you need to choose a home. Hopefully by the time you are applying for financing you already have a few potential homes in mind. But you still have the freedom to look some more and make sure that you are buying a home that you love.

There are no special pricing benefits given to military personnel on home prices; these are determined by the banks and sellers who own them.

What if you are a veteran and already own a home?

Let’s say you purchased a home several years ago when prices were very high and interest rates were high as well. Is there anything you can do to save money?

Luckily, veterans also have benefits that allow them to refinance their homes and save money. As with a new home purchase, a veteran must first receive a copy of the DD 214 before he or she can be considered eligible for any veteran benefits.

After this certificate is received, you will be able to apply for a VA Mortgage Refinance. This is a special refinance that allows you to take advantage of the same interest rates that are given to veterans who are applying to purchase a new home.

You will be able to lower the interest rate on your current home mortgage and save thousands of dollars over the remaining life of your loan.

These benefits are great ways for eligible veterans to save money. It is not too difficult to find licensed lenders, so take your time to shop around and find a lender who can offer you the best rate.

Many will charge different closing fees or have hidden fees that can cost you more money than you think. So make sure you find somebody who fits your budget and is willing to work openly with you. Take advantage of your benefits and enjoy your new or newly refinanced home!

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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.

Friday, July 22, 2011

U.S. Vets: Are You Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health?

Here is an important guest post from U.S. Navy veteran Doug Karr:


My fellow Gulf War veterans were the first to be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This multi-symptom illness includes numerous psychological and physical complaints.

Similar to PTSD in symptoms and causes, clinical depression often affects many military veterans.

Getting help is not a sign of weakness. The government has great mental health information to help those who believe they may be affected by trauma or stress disorders.

Many veterans contract infectious or bacterial diseases such as malaria, brucellosis, West Nile virus and others. All of these diseases usually surface within a year of returning home.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, chills, fever, sweats, diarrhea, joint and muscle pain, and more. Complications from some of these diseases last for years.

Depending on where and how you served, you could have been exposed to a wide range of dangerous substances. Many of us have been exposed to toxic fumes, biological agents, chemical warfare agents, burning oil and gas, and much more.

There are many cancers that have been connected to military service. Lung cancer is one.

Another, mesothelioma, is a cancer that affects more military veterans than any other group of people.

This cancer affects the lining of the lung or the abdominal cavity. Agent Orange has been directly linked to lung cancer as well as cancer of the larynx, bronchus and trachea.

For military service men and women who have sustained concussion, it is important to ensure that the condition is fully recovered. Given that many concussions are undiagnosed, it is critical to be cautious when recovering from any head trauma.

The medical community has more recently become alert to the effects of these traumas, and word is trickling out to soldiers and veterans.

Don't let your health decline because you think nothing can be done. There are many treatments available.

I confirmed much of this information by visiting web pages of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These health and wellness pages showed me that there are many problems but also many solutions if you are willing to pay attention to your health.

You can visit the VA’s resources and you can read my veterans blog.

If you are seeking treatment, find VA resources in your local community.

For more advanced or rarer conditions, it is possible you may need to visit a separate counseling service, psychiatrist, cancer center, or hospital.

Listen to your body. Know the signs. Know when to get help!
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

USA Network Show COVERT AFFAIRS Supports Disabled Veterans

In "Half a World Away" (episode 7, season 2) of the USA Network show COVERT AFFAIRS, former Special Forces soldier Auggie (Christopher Gorham) tracks the man whose betrayal blinded Auggie and killed his Special Forces teammates.

Partway through the show the actor does a PSA about supporting disabled veterans and then asks viewers to go to CharactersUnite.com to learn more.

On the site are these statistics:
More than 600 military men and women have returned from the Iraq war as amputees

Approximately 1 in 5 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder afflicts an estimated 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans
Visit the site to watch two brief videos by Christopher Gorham, learn where to get help if you're a veteran, and learn how you can "take action to serve America's military families."

Learn more now.
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We're Watching China


(The following is reprinted from www.MollieSanders.com)
“[The U.S. has] had a presence in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea for 50 to 60 years, even going back before World War II,” Rear Adm. Tom Carney, who is leading the naval exchange, told reporters in Danang [Vietnam], according to the Associated Press. “We have no intention of departing from that kind of activity.”
This was the conclusion of Patrick Barta’s July 16th article “U.S., Vietnam in Exercises Amid Tensions With China” in The Wall Street Journal.

The article began by announcing a series of joint naval exchanges between the U.S. and Vietnam. These exchanges have apparently been planned for some time, although they have taken on more meaning due to China’s increasing insistence on its claim to the South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands, despite claims in part by several other Asian countries.

In the new eBook-only novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS (written by myself and Mitch Miller), LCDR Sanders first works with the Coast Guard in the port of Los Angeles to prevent a terrorist attack.

Then she maneuvers her way onto a submarine sent on a reconnaissance mission to the South China Sea. The sub first stops at the Paracel Islands, and when it reaches the Spratly Islands, LCRD Sanders’ life is in danger.

No, this is NOT an instant novel. The truth is that the South China Sea has been an area of concern for many years for the U.S.

The screenplay “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” (dealing with the sub mission) was a 2005 quarterfinalist of the Nicholls Fellowship competition run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the same people who present the Oscars.)

As China’s military ambitions have grown, so has the threat to the peace in the South China Sea. In January 2007 Mitch and I attended the U.S. Naval Institute conference held in San Diego. Even then the presentations focused on the U.S. Navy’s concerns for the Pacific theater.

The growing tensions between the U.S. and China parallel in some ways the tensions between the U.S. and Japan that grew during the 1930s. And to a large extent these tensions are over the same issue – OIL!

On December 7, 1941, the U.S. was taken by surprise when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor even though the Japanese had already militarily expanded into Asia. This time the U.S. will be ready for China if that country decides to militarily expand into Asia.

China, we're watching you.

Get an eBook of this timely novel now for only $2.99 in formats for the Kindle, the Nook, Sony's Reader, the Kobo, your computer, etc. at http://budurl.com/MollieSandersebooks
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Celebrating Fourth of July: Remembering Those Who Now Serve Protecting Our Freedoms


In the July 2nd Wall Street Journal article "While My Son Serves," the article author Dave Shiflett says:"Fewer than 1% of Americans wear the uniform these days."

While Shiflett doesn't mention the source of this statistic, I'll take this as accurate.

And he goes on to say: "That, in turn, puts families of deployed soldiers in something of a world of their own."

It is important for all of us Americans to take a moment to reflect on the men and women who are serving right now in the U.S. and around the globe. And to be grateful to them and their families.

In Shiflett's article, here's the part I personally found most moving:
I remember a call from our son (via cellphone) who said he was out in the middle of the desert under a bright canopy of stars...

"You out there by yourself?" I asked.

"No, Dad. I have my machine gun."
One of the reasons I spent years writing (and rewriting) my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT was because I wanted people who had no connection to military families to better understand military life.

On social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook many people now share information about our troops. I do believe that, because of this activity on social media sites, more people are aware of the need to support our troops.

This Fourth of July, while the fireworks are busting in all their glory above our heads, let us remember the bursting "fireworks" that might be aimed at our deployed soldiers. And perhaps say a little prayer for all those serving.

You can read Shiflett's entire article now.
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Army Special Operations Command Deploys First Teams of Female Soldiers

The June 29th article "Female Special Operators Now in Combat" by Christian Lowe on military.com reported:
Army Special Operations Command has deployed its first teams of female Soldiers assigned to commando units in Afghanistan, and military officials are assessing their initial performance in theater as "off the charts."
This news has particular significance to me as I prepare to release two novels on the major ebook platforms:

MRS. LIEUTENANT is my novel of officers' wives during the Vietnam War, when women were an extra bonus the U.S. Army got when married officers went on active duty.

LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS takes place now with the first female on a submarine smaller than a boomer.

And now this actual news!

Read the entire article now.
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Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and her social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing works with clients to use social media to attract more business. Read her social media marketing blog.