Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Luke Feldbrugge
Your VA loan statement of service letter is vital to starting the VA loan process if you are an active service member, a reservist or a member of the National Guard. It is literally one of the first documents you need to put together, and it’s not always easy. It can take some work on your part and the availability of your commanding officer to get this thing done. Fortunately, there are some shortcuts.
Sending Out an SOS (Statement of Service)
The SOS (no pun intended) is one of the more overlooked documents in the VA home loan benefit. Essentially, it tells your lender that you are indeed currently serving in one of the military branches of the armed forces (or uniformed services), which is a fancy way to tell them that you are currently employed and have an income.
Lenders care about such things because they want to know that you can make monthly payments on your mortgage for a long time. Your lender, by the way, is key to getting a VA-backed loan guarantee. In order to receive a VA loan you need two organizations working for you side by side: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a private mortgage lender. The VA, for its part, guarantees and insures your loan because you have served the country and they want to make it easier for you to be able to afford a home. That insurance tells your lender that you are a good risk and, if you somehow default on the loan, the VA will reimburse the lender so they aren’t left holding the short straw.
Once you’ve got VA approval and insurance, the lender does most of the rest of the work on the mortgage application for your new home. The private lender actually gives you the money. You will be making payments to that lender for the duration of your mortgage. Before and during the closing, your private lender will be making decisions about your ability to pay on the loan, and asking a lot of questions.
Consequently, the private lender is a very important relationship during your house hunt, and statements of service are very important documents for lenders. Without it, they cannot start working with the VA to get the next official document – the COE. More on that in a bit.
Before we go any further, if you are a veteran who has left the service and are eligible for VA benefits, you do not need a VA Loan Statement of Service Letter.
What is the VA Loan Statement of Service Letter?
The current Statement of Service Letter is a document that helps the private lender determine that you have the months of income needed to make your mortgage payments. Rather than a form or certificate, this is a letter from your commanding officer. There are samples out there of this letter so your commander of the unit doesn’t need to create it from scratch.
These are the facts he or she will need to include in the statement/letter (it might be a good idea to provide some of this important information so the busy CO doesn’t have to do so much research):
- Your name and Social Security number
- Your date of birth
- Which branch you served
- Your rank
- Your dates of active duty
- List of any time lost
- Type of discharge
- Are you eligible to return to service
- Name and signature of commanding officer
Ideally, this information will be on official letterhead. The private lender uses this document to start the process of retrieving your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which is the VA-generated form that tells you and your lender that you are eligible for the VA Loan benefit. The COE states the eligibility of military personnel but not necessarily approval. Approval is worked out between the VA and your lender. But without the SOS, there is no forward movement.
The SOS is not the same as your LES, your Leave and Earnings Statement which you get from your branch of the military every month.
Is there a VA Loan Statement of Service Letter Shortcut?
The trouble with the VA Statement of Service Letter is that it has to be signed by your commanding officer, and that’s not always easy. The CO tends to be a very busy person and signing letters to help you with a loan may not be top of their agenda. Any number of things could delay the letter signing, and as we have said, this is the first step for active-duty service members trying to get a VA loan guarantee.
Fortunately there are other options. Your Statement of Service Letter can also be signed by your unit’s adjutant or your personnel office.
There is also a thing called a “Status Report Pursuant to Service Members Civil Relief Act,” which is available online and can be obtained by VA processors. In some cases that’s enough for the private lender and can be a lot faster than getting a letter filled out and signed by a commanding officer.
Because the SOS can be difficult to get, make sure you do it right away once you have decided to get a mortgage through the VA loan program.
Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
The SOS is an important document because it leads to the VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which is in turn very important to the whole VA loan process. In short, the Certificate of Eligibility is exactly what it sounds like: it verifies to the VA loan processors that you are, in fact, eligible for the program.
It’s not a guarantee that you will be approved, rather it is just one of the basic requirements for the final approval. Once you have it – or your loan officer retrieves it online – you will be close to final approval. There is a complete explanation of this document in one of our blogs including information about the VA COE application process.
Homes for Heroes can Help You Save an Average of $3,000
The interplay of activities between you, your private lender and the VA loan program are key to completing the journey to the VA loan guarantee. Homes for Heroes can help connect you to the right professionals.
“Homes for Heroes is a great program. We are both veterans and we felt extremely well taken care of in the process.” – Cheryl, with the Navy, found a home in North Carolina.
We want to help heroes at all stages of the home buying journey, so we connect you to a real estate agent who will help you start your search, and we connect you with our local mortgage specialist. They are a vital part to the VA home loan process. They will help you navigate the VA loan system, and they are committed to working with qualified veterans and military borrowers. The thank you check at the end of the home buying journey is part of it. Our Hero Reward check averages $3,000 and it is awarded after closing on your new home.
Finally we round out the team with inspectors and title companies to help eligible applicants get to closing. These services, as well as the Hero Reward check, are our way of saying thank you to you for your service. Sign up today to speak with our specialist.