May is Military Appreciation Month. With the onset of this event, I would like to turn the focus of my blog on our Military. Recently, I received an email from our local Fairway Mortgage Loan Officer telling us about a CE (continuing education) class that they were hosting in a few weeks. When I read the details and saw it was for a Certified Military Specialist certification; I signed up immediately!
I have always considered myself to be pretty patriotic and overly sensitive to our Nation’s military. My Dad is retired Air Force and I have an Uncle who served in the Vietnam War. I have read Chris Kyle’s autobiography, and a buff for military movies like Blackhawk Down and American Sniper. Obvious selections for a girl, right? Haha! So naturally when the opportunity to take a continuing education class that allows me to get hours as well as a new certification, Certified Military Residential Specialist, came about, I jumped at the opportunity.
That early Wednesday morning, the conference room was packed full of realtors in the Brazos Valley. It made me happy to see so many of us in the area take an interest in a subject which is near and dear to my heart. I turned my eyes to the program, and briefly read about Keynote Speaker, Captain Sean Parnell of the US Army Airborne Ranger, infamous Outlaw Platoon leader and NY Times Best Selling Author. This is what I was most looking forward to, to be honest. A history major, I love hearing about battles and wars and this was an opportunity to hear first-hand experience from a highly decorated Captain. Let the CMRS class commence.
During this class we had a little spit-fire of a speaker take stage; Ms. Louise Thaxton. She is a branch manager at Fairway Mortgage as well as co-founder of American Warrior Initiative. She spoke to our group and began to educate the realtors of the Brazos Valley, giving us a Military 101 lesson if you will. We learned about basic military language, status, and compensations. We heard about the some of the pitfalls that come along with being in the military. For example: higher divorce rate, higher rates of suicides (an average of 22 veterans commit suicide daily), depression, high unemployment rates, higher than average rate of homelessness, this list goes on….. I’m thankful Louise informed us about the plights of our military veterans, because in order for us as realtors to help them, we must first and foremost understand them.
Louise Thaxton was engaging, passionate and informative to say the least; and with each statement, drawing us further in. She spoke to the Realtor group about how the VA loan process works as well as re-telling us veterans’ personal stories of coming back to the states, only to have a hard time getting a home. I have unfortunately encountered this problem in my professional career as a Realtor. And if you have been in real estate, then no doubt you have encountered a seller or selling agent who would not accept your buyer’s offer due to a VA loan being involved. Now I have NEVER nor will I EVER not accept an offer just because the buyer’s are using a privilege given to them for courageously protecting our great Nation. I have unfortunately recently dealt with a local agent who would not accept my retired Navy Veteran’s offer on a house due to it being funded by a “VA Loan.” This infuriated me on so many levels; however, this is not an illegal practice. Unethical-yes, but not illegal. So I made it my mission to do everything in my power to help this honorable family who was ignorantly disrespected. Educating our local Realtors about this problem, the VA Loan Process as well as our Military, is imperative so we do not encounter an unfortunate incident like this again.
At last the class was drawing to an end, when Captain Sean Parnell took the stage. He began quickly telling the engaged group about his first day in Afghanistan. The story went on about how as soon as he landed in the middle of a rocky desert, he found himself in the middle of a battle, trying to save the lives of local Afghani children who had been the target of an enemy bomb attack at an elementary school. As he brought his memories to life, tears began to flow and I couldn’t get them to stop. I kept thinking about the monstrosities this man and other military had/have encounter on a daily basis, while I am in the states drinking my Starbucks and watching trash tv. About how they selflessly fight for others, only to come back to the states, battered and bloodied and often disrespected and disrespected by my peers. This lit a fire in me. How can I help? Well, “WE” can help by educating our community, sellers, and Real Estate Agents about this topic. I chose this career to help others and help others is exactly what I will do.
In short, we can’t do everything, but one person can do one thing. As a result of signing up for this continuing education class, my heart was touched and my spirit was set on fire. The Lester Group at Keller Williams B/V is now chairing a fundraiser that will help a local military family in need. Thank you Ms. Louise Thaxton and Captain Sean Parnell. It was a true honor to meet you and hear you two speak! You both continue to help others by passionately informing and educating Realtors all over the United States. God Bless America and God Bless our Military!