VA Loan Eligibility for Members of the Guard and Reserves

Members of the National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reserves have special VA loan eligibility requirements before they can use the VA Loan to buy a home. But there is much more to qualifying for a VA Loan than simply being eligible. Let’s look at the VA Loan eligibility requirements, including the necessary forms and…
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Members of the National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reserves have special VA loan eligibility requirements before they can use the VA Loan to buy a home. But there is much more to qualifying for a VA Loan than simply being eligible. Let’s look at the VA Loan eligibility requirements, including the necessary forms and paperwork you will need before you can apply for a VA Loan.

Guard and Reserve VA Loan Eligibility

National Guard and Reserves VA Loan EligibilityCurrent or former members of the National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reserves are eligible to apply for a VA Loan if they meet one of the following:

  • Served at least 90 consecutive days on active duty during wartime.
  • Served at least 181 consecutive days on active duty during peacetime.
  • Completed six years of in-service time with their Guard or Reserve Unit (These must be “Good Years” to qualify).

Note: These requirements are only to be eligible to apply for a VA loan; they do not guarantee your loan will be approved. You still must meet the financial requirements set by the lender.

Proof of Service

After meeting minimum service requirements to be eligible for a VA Loan, servicemembers and veterans must provide the VA with Proof of service so they can acquire a Certificate of Eligibility, which the VA will furnish to the actual lender.

Proof of Service

Members of the Guard and Reserves who have active duty time should have received a DD Form 214 when they were transitioned back to their Guard or Reserve status. Your DD Form 214 should state the total number of days they served on active duty. Here are instructions for getting a copy of your DD 214 if you do not currently have a copy.

If you are currently serving on active duty and have met the service requirements, you can also send a Statement of Service signed by your unit commander, his/her adjutant, or a personnel officer.

A Statement of Service must include the following information:

  • Full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number
  • Date entered into military service
  • Total number of Creditable Years of Service (also known in the Guard and Reserves as “Good Years”)
  • Duration of Lost Time
  • Unit Command information, including name, location, and contact information

Discharged Members of the Guard and Reserves

If you do not meet requirements for time served on active duty, and you are no longer in the Guard or Reserves, then you can send copies of your separation paperwork or other accepted forms. These include:

  • National Guard: NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, for each period of National Guard service, or, NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting, and proof of the character of service
  • Reserves: Copy of your latest annual retirement points statement and evidence of honorable service.

Once you have your proof of service, you will provide this to the VA, which will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility.

Certificate of Eligibility

A Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) is a requirement for every VA Loan application. Many lenders can now process these forms for you if they have access to the VA Web LGY system. If the lender has access to the system, they may be able to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility in a few minutes. However, the VA may not have all of a servicemembers’ records in their system, and you may apply for the CoE through another method.

  • Apply online: To get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) online, visit the eBenefits portal. If you already have login credentials, click the Login box, and if you need login credentials, please click the Register box and follow the directions on the screen.
  • Apply by Mail: Use VA Form 26-1880, Request for Certificate of Eligibility (pdf). Instructions and the mailing address are on the form.

The turnaround time for a manual request can take anywhere from a couple of days, to a couple of weeks, depending on whether you have your paperwork in order, how backed up the VA is, and other factors. The VA can often rush a CoE if you have the proper documentation. I believe it took less than a week for me to receive my Certificate of Eligibility when I applied for a VA Loan a few years ago.

Current VA Loan Rates

Eligibility Does Not Guarantee a Loan

Meeting the above criteria will establish eligibility to apply for a VA Loan, but it will not guarantee your application will be approved. Lenders look at multiple factors before approving loans, including your income, credit score, debt to income ratio, and other factors. We cover these topics in the following article about getting approved for a VA Loan.

If you are planning on buying a home with a VA Loan, then check out our VA Loan interest rate page which lists current interest rates from a variety of lenders. This will give you an idea of what current interest rates are in your area.

Equal Housing OpportunityEqual Housing Opportunity. The Department of Veterans Affairs affirmatively administers the VA Home Loan Program by assuring that all Veterans are given an equal opportunity to buy homes with VA assistance. Federal law requires all VA Home Loan Program participants – builders, brokers, and lenders offering housing for sale with VA financing – must comply with Fair Housing Laws and may not discriminate based on the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin of the Veteran.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

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  1. David Sayles says

    I am going through this nightmare right now, My wife and I both served in the Reserves during the 90’s we both filled out commitments and were honorably discharged. We didn’t get monthly or yearly statements on our points and service back then, and even they did provide that…how realistic is it that a 25 yr old will keep those records?

    The VA is asking for documentation of my service. I requested all the DOD has on file, and of course what the VA wants isn’t in there. I am at a loss as to how I can access my available benefits beyond a VA id card or VET on my driver’s license which obviously don’t help with getting the COE.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello David,

      I don’t have a firm answer here, other than to contact your branch of the military, or the National Archives. The National Archives should maintain service records. You might also be able to contact DFAS to see if they have copies of old pay records, which could be parsed to show a member’s service dates. Beyond that, I’m not sure what you can do.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

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