Congresswoman’s legislation will address two troublesome situations facing men and women in uniform
WASHINGTON, DC – September 30, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is introducing legislation to benefit members of the military by relieving housing financial pressures for those who are transferred and easing the transition to civilian life.
“We ask a tremendous amount from our men and women in uniform,” said Giffords, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “It is incumbent on us to ensure that their service does not expose them or their families to additional pressures because of the sacrifices they have volunteered to take on.”
Giffords today will introduce the Servicemembers Homeowner Assistance Program Extension Act and the National Guard and Reserve Soft Landing Reintegration Act. Earlier this month, she introduced the Warrior Home Loan Act, another piece of legislation aimed at helping members of the military.
The Servicemembers Homeowner Assistance Program Extension Act would extend existing legislation that authorizes the Department of Defense to assist members of the military who are reassigned and forced to sell a home that has dropped in value. Co-sponsoring this bill is U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, a Republican from North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.
The program applies to members of the military who are permanently reassigned to a new duty station or home port more than 50 miles from their existing station or port. Those service members must also own a home that was purchased before July 1, 2006 that has declined in value by at least 10 percent.
If the service member cannot sell his or her home without a loss, the Homeowner Assistance Program authorizes the Defense Department to buy the home or reimburse the service member for the loss. The current program expires tomorrow. Giffords’ bill would extend that until Sept. 30, 2012.
The National Guard and Reserve Soft Landing Reintegration Act will ensure that returning service members have a firm safety net when they return from war. By allowing them to remain on active duty for up to 45 days, collect pay and access reintegration services, this legislation will help ease the adjustment from combat to civilian life and ensure access to the care they deserve.
During the 45-day period, each of the military branches must provide reintegration services including physical and behavioral health care evaluations and workshops on employment, marriage and family, financial management, education, workforce and Defense Department and veterans’ benefits.
“The need to assist returning Guard and Reserve members and their families is especially acute in today’s environment, in which the Guard and Reserves are serving at the same operational tempo as active-duty units,” said Giffords. “The mission of the Soft Landing Reintegration Act is to give Guard and Reserve members time and support to transition from holding a weapon to holding their child.”
The Warrior Home Loan Act, which Giffords introduced earlier this month, is intended to make it easier for Reservists and members of the National Guard to obtain certain types of guaranteed home loans through the Veterans Administration.
The legislation would make permanent the VA’s authority to provide adjustable and hybrid adjustable rate mortgages. Under current law, this authority is temporary and scheduled to expire in 2012.