For American veterans and military, currently serving reservists and select surviving spouses
VA loans are available to Veterans and their surviving spouses serving in the following:
How it all started
The original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, passed by the United States Congress in 1944, extended a wide variety of benefits to eligible veterans. The VA loan guarantee program was especially important to veterans. Under the law, as amended, the VA is authorized to guarantee or insure home loans ~ 18 million VA home loans have been insured by the government to date.
Until 1992, the VA loan guarantee program was available only to veterans who served on active duty during specified periods. However, with the enactment of the Veterans Home Loan Program Amendments of 1992, program eligibility was expanded to include Reservists and National Guard personnel who served honorably for at least six years without otherwise qualifying under the previous active duty provisions.
If you've served on active military duty with an honorable discharge for a minimum of 90 days during wartime, or a minimum of 181 continuous days of military service during peacetime, or you have served in the National Guard or Reserves for a minimum of six years, you may be eligible for all the benefits of a VA Home Loan. If you're a veteran, VA Loan eligibility requires two years of service if you began your military service after September 7, 1980, or, as an officer, if you began your military service after October 16, 1981.
VA Insures but does not lend directly
Despite a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding, the federal government generally does not make direct loans under the act. The government simply guarantees loans made by mortgage lenders after veterans make their own arrangements for the loans through normal financial routes. The Veterans Administration then appraises the property in question and, if satisfied with the risk involved, guarantees the lender against loss of principal if the buyer defaults.