When Army Capt. Matt Carpenter, an Iraq War Veteran, succumbed to cancer in December 2010, he left his wife, Beth, and son, Joey behind. Shortly after his death, Beth received advice from a friend and fellow Army widow, “Our children have already lost their fathers,” the friend said. “We can’t let them lose their mothers to grief.”
Beth took that advice to heart. She decided to move with Joey, now three, from Connecticut to Northern Virginia to be close to her parents and purchase a home using her VA home loan benefit as a surviving spouse. When Elizabeth and Joey were choosing a place to call home for the next chapter of their lives, they didn’t know that they would be the 20 millionth family to receive a home loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This morning, a foggy one in Woodbridge, Virginia, with orange leaves blanketing trees and lawns on Beth and Joey’s cul-de-sac, VA honored the memory of Capt. Carpenter and recognized the milestone achieved when Beth and Joey closed on their new house. VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey was joined in recognizing the Carpenters by Michael Frueh, director of Loan Guaranty Service for VA, and National Association of Realtors President Moe Veissi. Pete Mills, senior vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association also was on hand to recognize the Carpenters and noted that his parents still lived in the home where he grew up—one of the 20 million financed under a VA loan guaranty.
Representatives from the Carpenters’ lender, Wells Fargo, and realtor, Keller Williams, were also present.
Beth said that beginning life in a new home was a way to honor her late husband. “Matt wanted us to push forward, and that’s what we’ve done. It’s better to push forward than just wallow.”
“We wanted a home for Joey to make memories at three that he’ll remember at 16,” Beth said of selecting their new home. “We want to have friends that turn into family. This neighborhood is amazing. There are tons of kids, and Joey waits for them to get off the school bus.”
The VA Home Loan program began in 1944 under the first G.I. Bill signed by Franklin Roosevelt. The program has the lowest serious delinquency rate, as well as the lowest foreclosure rate, of any home ownership program in the United States. There are currently a total of 1.7 million VA guaranteed home loans in the United States with a total value of $284 billion dollars. Of loans purchased through program, 89 percent are purchased with no down payment. All told, VA guarantees an average of 2,400 home loans every working day of the year.
“At the center of the home loan guaranty program is the idea that Veterans and their families are a safe bet,” said Under Secretary Hickey.” As a result of their service and sacrifice, as a group, they prove to be disciplined, reliable, and honorable — traits that are ideal for this kind of national investment.”
Veterans may obtain a certificate of eligibility for a VA-guaranteed home loan through the joint Department of Defense-VA web portal eBenefits. To obtain more information about the VA Home Loan Program, visit the program’s home page.
Richard Allen Smith is a Web Communications Specialist for the Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Richard served on active duty in the United States Army from 2003-2008 and deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in 2007.