Services, Sites Help Veterans Navigate Benefits Maze

Veterans returning to the U.S. from their tours of duty face a fresh challenge at home: making the switch from soldier to civilian. To make veterans’ transitions easier, the federal and state governments offer a long list of benefits that address health, career, financial and other needs.

The military also offers debriefings before servicemembers are discharged to inform them of the benefits available and how to apply for them. Despite these efforts, many veterans are missing out on their fair share of entitlements.

That’s likely due, in part, to timing: Veterans’ advocates observe that many homebound servicemembers would rather focus on their families and the future than on learning about and applying for benefits. Those who do want to pursue their entitlements can find the amount of information and the application process daunting.

That’s where nonprofit veterans’ organizations and local agencies come in. Even though veterans can contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for assistance, service providers like the National Veterans Foundation and County Veterans Service Office enable veterans to avoid the federal bureaucracy, at least for the moment, by providing individualized benefits information and case management services. And since fellow veterans typically staff these types of organizations, the men and women who use the services can begin the process by talking to someone who can relate to what they’re going through. That kind of connection can be the key to seeing the process through.

According to the VA, approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services as veterans, family members, or survivors. Though veterans’ benefits won’t provide a windfall for individuals, they can be significant and long lasting, and are worth the time and effort it takes to pursue them.

Just a few of the many resources available to returning servicemembers include:

* Seamless Transition (benefits.va.gov/vow/seamlesstransition.htm)
* County Veterans Service Office (nacvso.org/)
* VA online directory of Veterans Service Organizations (www1.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view)
* Fund for Veterans’ Education (VeteransEducationFund.org)
* Helping Heal Heroes (helpinghealheros.org)
* Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (semperfifund.org)
* Homes for Our Troops (homesforourtroops.org)

Find out more from the Veterans Administration; va.gov.

The professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union also are ready to help. We can help get your financial affairs back in order during this big transition. Stop by or call us today at 740.522.8311.

Hopewell Federal Offers VA Loans...Click Here!

Hopewell Federal Offers VA Loans…Click Here!

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Community News from Hopewell

HOPEWELL FEDERAL PRESENTS DONATION TO THE LICKING COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY (LCHS)
Proceeds From Recent Car Show Given to LCHS

Hopewell Federal Credit Union (HFCU) recently held its fourth annual Car Show in Newark, Ohio on Saturday, July 19th, 2014. Proceeds from the event totaled $1,000.00 and were presented to Lori Carlson, Executive Director of the Licking County Humane Society (LCHS) August, 21st 2014.

The event, sponsored by Webb Financial Group, Madison-Collins-Stephens Insurance, Courtesy Ambulance, and Mantonya Chiropractic Centers, was coordinated by Jim Matheny of Kar Shoz. Despite the soggy weather conditions, the event brought in twenty six cars featuring a variety of years, makes and models. Specialty award winners included:
DJ’s Choice Burley Greer of Granville 1964 Plymouth Barracuda
CEO’s Choice Jack Dodrill of Millersport 1955 T-Bird
POPPY’S Choice Josh Moore of Newark 94 Acura Integra

Attendees of the event enjoyed free admission, DJ music, food from Poppy’s Roadside Diner, 50/50 raffle, and door prize drawings. The Licking County Humane Society was on hand with some of their adoptable pets.

A $6.5 Billion Benefit to Members

Credit union members benefit from higher levels of service and participation in the governance of their financial cooperatives. But members also benefit financially to the tune of about $6.5 billion a year–that’s $68 a year per member or $129 a year per member household, according to data from the Credit Union National Association’s economics and statistics department.

That’s the sum of the additional fees, loan interest and lower savings return that credit union members would have paid and earned had they conducted all their business with banks instead of credit unions during the twelve months ending December 2013. Those numbers break down this way:
· Lower fees = $1.1 billion
· Lower interest paid on loans = $4.3 billion
· Higher earnings on shares and deposits = $1.1 billion

While bankers complain that credit unions don’t pay federal income taxes, they conveniently ignore the fact that credit union members pay income taxes on the additional dividends that they earn on their higher-earning credit union savings accounts, according to CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel.

More than 97 million Americans are members of a credit union. But Hampel also points out that even those that don’t belong to a credit union benefit from the existence of credit unions. “Attractive pricing from credit unions pressures other financial institutions to provide attractive rates and services.”

Is Having a Car on Campus Worth It?

Having a car on campus is one of the best conveniences a college student can have.

A car allows you to fully experience all amenities and attractions in the area as well as simply commute comfortably. You no longer have to wait for crowded buses or text all of your friends hoping that someone gives you a ride. Simple daily tasks such as getting to class, going to the gym, and buying groceries become faster and more convenient with a car.

Ultimately, a car provides you the freedom to make spur of the moment plans and provides a higher level of independence. But these benefits can come at a large cost including:

• The initial purchase price
• Monthly loan payments
• Gas
• Routine maintenance
• Car insurance
• Repairs

Depending on the city, parking also may be scarce and expensive. All of these factors can add up to several thousands of dollars each year.

To decide if having a car is worth the costs, the most important considerations are the infrastructure of the city and your personal situation. Some suburban cities are spread out and make travel difficult without having a car. Other cities have great public transportation or perhaps have all necessary amenities within biking distance, making a car less useful.

Do some online research and talk to current students and alumni about whether having a car is worth it. Next think about your personal situation:

• Where would you go on a regular basis?
• How much more convenient and how much time do you save if you had a car?
• What are your projected costs?
• Will you have to work—or work more hours—to afford a car on campus? Will that jeopardize your grades?

Having a car is no doubt one of the best luxuries of college life; you must decide if having one is worth the financial obligation for your situation.

If you decide that having a car on campus will work for you, contact the professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. We can help you save for this goal or provide an auto loan that fits your spending plan. Stop by or call us today.

 

Home Equity Is Not a Retirement Plan

Paying off a house is a retirement goal for many people, but don’t count on equity to compensate for insufficient savings.

If you have a low-interest home loan, shortchanging your retirement contributions to pay it off early usually isn’t a good idea. Here are some of the limitations of relying too much on home equity in retirement.

      * What happens if you need to go to a nursing home? Selling your home to fund a move to a nursing home only works if your spouse can arrange for other accommodations or is moving into the home with you. Also, your equity may not be enough to cover the costs.
      * Equity isn’t fixed. Home prices rise and fall, and if you’re not maintaining your home, that could also affect its value. Plus, translating equity into cash takes money and time.
      * The cost of selling. Commissions generally eat up 6% of the final sale price of your house. On top of that, you have possible capital gains taxes. While $250,000 (or $500,000 for couples) of capital gains is tax-free, years from now inflation and appreciation could make that amount seem meager. And if you have to sell quickly due to an emergency, you might have to accept a lower offer than you’d like.
      * Beware of reverse mortgages. This type of loan gives you money to live on for the rest of your life based on the equity in your home, and it allows you to continue living there. But you typically get considerably less than what the home is worth, and the loan becomes due if you ever move.