Texas Military Vets Have an Array of Loans Available

Written by Randy Watson

Since 1946, the Texas Land Board has been offering great benefits, in the form of below market loans for purchasing land, houses, and even home improvements, exclusively to Texas military veterans. In addition to these offers, the Board also offers retirement homes and cemeteries with dignified, specialized care, as well as a full array of amenities to those Texans who have helped to keep America, and Texas, safe and free.

In 1836, when Texas declared its independence from Mexico, and many Texans fought to insure this freedom, the state sought to reward those who sacrificed so much for the nascent republic. Unfortunately, as a newly-formed entity, Texas was not yet wealthy, and had little means at its disposal. So poor was the republic, that it didn\'t even have enough money to pay its soldiers. Although short of cash, there was one resource in which Texas was extremely wealthy: land. Thus, the Texas Land Board was created to grant land in lieu of cash payment.

Over the years, as the amount of public land has decreased, the system has been adjusted to still assist Texas military veterans, all the while keeping up with modern times. In 1946, soldiers returning from the WWII were greeted with the creation of the Texas Veterans Land Board, which remains an updated version of the original. Since there was a shortage of land and Texas, at this point, was fairly well-developed, the Veterans Land Board offered below market loans that would allow vets to purchase land. In the 1980s, the plan was further adjusted to allow for loans to be given to purchase houses and even make home improvements.

It is safe to say that the program has been a resounding success. Last year, the program lent $1 billion, and reports indicate that every dollar lent results in six dollars for the local economy in the form of real estate, construction, materials, and labor. Perhaps the best part is that the taxpayers pay nothing to keep this program alive, as it is self-funded and self-sustaining, and the vets who use it are some of the most dependable and responsible members of the community. Although over 180,000 Texas veterans have taken advantage of this program, nearly 1.5 million have not.

The plan is continually being updated, changed, and modified to insure that Texas vets will always receive the best benefits package in the nation. The past few years have certainly seen quite a few improvements across the board. For example, the land loans project has not only dropped its minimum land purchase amount from 5 acres to 1, but has also raised the loan amount from $40,000 to $60,000. The home loan project has raised its maximum loan amount from $240,000 to $325,000 and also offers a 15 or 30 year term, which can be used with other loans, such as VA, FHA, or conventional loans. The Texas Veterans Land Board\'s home improvement loans have a maximum of $25,000 on a 25-year note, and all of these loans can be used more than once, if the original has been paid in full.

Elderly vets also have another option at their disposal in the form of Texas State Veterans Homes, which offer first rate accommodations with specialized nursing care at much lower rates than private care. These homes are available, not only for vets, but for their loved ones as well. Currently, there are homes in El Paso, McAllen, Big Spring, Bonham, Temple, and Floresville, with one opening in Amarillo this year, and others planned.

For those veterans who have passed on, the program also offers them a peaceful and dignified final resting place in the Texas State Veterans Cemeteries. These cemeteries are fully modern, offering all the amenities and services that Texas veterans deserve. Currently, there are two such facilities - the first opened in Killeen in January 2006, and the second in Mission later that year. The Land Board also is planning on unveiling more of these in the upcoming years.

The Texas Veterans Land Board is a win-win-win situation for the entire state of Texas. In addition to assisting veterans to be able to afford quality housing; the benefits to the state itself are many. By injecting money into local economies across the state, the plan insures building and development will continue, communities will benefit from having the leadership and stability of veterans around, and all of this comes as absolutely no burden to the taxpayers of the state. By offering these below market loans, but also at a longer term, the number of defaults is lessened, which should mean that the program, started with the founding of our great state, will remain in place for many more years.

Vets interested in learning more about the loan rates, and getting more information, can call 1-800-252-VETS from M-F 7:30 AM-6:00 PM, or log onto www.texasveterans.com.