SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued the nation's first check under the new Homeowners Assistance Program, or HAP, as expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Sacramento District was the first of three Corps districts responsible for processing HAP claims to issue a check.

The check was in Air Force Maj. John Orchard Jr.'s Colorado Springs, Colo., mailbox exactly two weeks after funds became available on Sept. 30.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre thrilled,Aca,!A? Orchard said. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre going to go right to the bank.Aca,!A?

Orchard and his family were reassigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev. The housing market in the area had suffered a considerable decline during the economic downturn, forcing the sale of their home at a loss. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs been a roller coaster,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Selling a home at a loss, we eventually had to dip into savings. This (HAP claim) puts us back on the map towards retirement and college savings. ItAca,!a,,cs a great gift from our country to our servicemen and servicewomen.Aca,!A?

Janice Will, lead real estate specialist with the Sacramento DistrictAca,!a,,cs real estate division, credits the hard work of the entire team for accomplishing this milestone.

Aca,!A"Everybody had a part in it. It was really a team effort,Aca,!A? Will explained.

A total of 14 district employees were involved in the process, including Mike S. Anda, section chief for HAP at the Sacramento District.

Aca,!A"We were fortunate to have such a seasoned team,Aca,!A? said Anda. Aca,!A"Everyone worked together to get the job done.Aca,!A?

Once the funds were released Sept. 30, the Office of the Secretary of Defense issued final guidelines for implementing the expanded program. Then the Sacramento District's real estate division immediately went to work processing applications, many of which were submitted in the months before funds became available.

Aca,!A"Our servicemembers, Department of Defense civilians and their families deserve this assistance,Aca,!A? said Col. Thomas C. Chapman, commander of the Sacramento District. Aca,!A"We as a district are proud to provide this service to them.Aca,!A?

HAP is a Department of Defense program approved by Congress in 1966, originally aimed at providing aid to military families and civilian personnel affected by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The Recovery Act, or ARRA, expanded HAP to provide assistance to wounded servicemembers and DoD civilians reassigned due to medical or rehabilitation purposes or retirement due to their disability; surviving spouses of the fallen; BRAC 2005 impacted homeowners; and servicemembers undergoing a permanent change of station during the mortgage crisis.

The Corps of Engineers operates the program on behalf of the military branches, with the Sacramento District responsible for 10 western states and U.S. military installations in the Pacific region.

Due to the hard work of the real estate division at the Sacramento District, 13 additional checks are scheduled to be sent out within a week, with a projected total of 25 checks in the first month since funds became available.

Aca,!A"The main focus is helping people,Aca,!A? said Anda. Aca,!A"Being first is really a minimal accolade in my eyes; the focus has always been helping as many applicants as we can.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16