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Bankruptcy doesn't strip vets of benefits for their service

Service to our country is something that takes special commitment. Those who don military uniforms, regardless of the service they perform, take on responsibilities voluntarily that at times have had to be filled by the military draft.

To sweeten the pot and attract volunteers, the government promises veterans certain special benefits that aren't available to the rest of the general public. And once earned, they aren't meant to be taken away.

As we take time this week to specially acknowledge those in Illinois who have served the country, it may be right to make note of the fact that life can have a way of throwing curve balls at all of us. Bankruptcy is one of those processes that can be daunting. While designed to provide a level of protection against destitution, it can be hard on veterans and their families.

The good news for veterans eligible for VA mortgage or refinancing assistance is that the support doesn't disappear as a result of filing for bankruptcy. But accessing the help could be affected by the process, so it is wise to consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action in any given situation.

In brief, here are some things worth noting if you are a veteran contemplating bankruptcy. These come courtesy of

If you file for Chapter 7, you will need to be mindful of what's called the seasoning period. Chapter 7 is usually a quicker route to debt discharge, but the seasoning period is a length of time you have to wait for the bankruptcy case to officially close. In Chapter 7, the period is often two years.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy may take more time to complete, but because you are working on a schedule to pay back debts, mortgage lenders often look more favorably on those who use it. There is a one-year seasoning period with Chapter 13, but begins from the moment you file, rather than from date of discharge. Permission to seek a new VA loan may also have to be sought from the trustee assigned to your case.

By being in the know, you stand the best chance of making the system work effectively for you.

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