The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is ready to help veterans in a wide variety of situations, but it unfortunately does not have a program that guarantees auto loans. However, vets aren't entirely left out in the cold. The VA can help with a vehicle purchase under some circumstances (if not with the loan itself), and many private companies offer help.
Veterans can face some financing roadblocks
Military service can trounce your credit score and this can have an effect on your ability to borrow for years after you leave active duty. It can be hard to keep track of bills when you're deployed and you might easily miss one or two. Building your credit with a secured credit card or a gas or department store card might not be feasible while you're overseas, so you'll have to start from scratch when you get home.
If your income derives largely from a federal stipend, such as if receiving a living allowance while you go back to school on the GI Bill, lenders may be concerned if it might end during the life of your loan. If you're receiving a pension, however, this isn't much of an issue, as that's unlikely to cut off at any point.
Join a credit union for service members
Regardless of what hardships you might be facing in qualifying for an auto loan, several insurance companies and credit unions specifically aim to assist veterans. Navy Federal Credit Union serves veterans from all departments of the military and offers car loans. United Services Automobile Association doesn't just offer insurance to veterans and military personnel; it will help you get a car loan, too, through a variety of programs. It can also hook you up for discounts with auto manufacturers through its Car Buying Service, and it offers savings certificates that you can take to approved dealers.
Look for private lenders who offer military discounts
Many private lenders have a soft spot for military veterans as well, offering them special financing terms and discounts. Bank of America warns that you should investigate any terms that sound too good to be true; scams abound, but plenty of lending institutions offer military car loans to both active duty and retired personnel. They may be more forgiving of splotchy credit histories, offer lower interest rates and require less money down. Loans for veterans can be even more advantageous than those for active duty service members.
Finding such a lender can be a simple matter of getting on the phone, calling around or searching the internet. You can also ask the dealer to help you; dealers want to sell cars and will usually go out of their way to help you find you financing.
Do you even need a loan?
Depending on the vehicle you want to buy, you may not even need a loan if you're disabled through your service to your country. As of October 2016, the VA offers a one-time automobile allowance of up to $20,235.20. You can use the money to buy a vehicle without financing it. Just complete VA form 21-4502 and submit it to apply. Qualifying disabilities include loss of use of one or both hands or feet, vision impairment, burn injuries and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The allowance is paid directly to the dealer or seller. If you qualify, get out there and start shopping.