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Pursuing the American dream

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
What is the American dream? We hear about it all the time, but what is it really defined as?

According to several highly famed philosophers of our past, including James Truslow Adams in 1931, the American dream can be defined as a national ethos of the United States of America in which democratic ideals are perceived as a promise of prosperity for its people.

However, more commonly in today's generations, the idea of owning their own home has become one of the core goals in attaining that level of prosperity.

May 5, 2010 marked the day I officially bought my first home and joined the ranks of many Americans who have worked for that dream. When I first arrived at Minot AFB, I was a first-term Airman living in the dorms. Due to overcrowding in the dorms, and a lucky move-out program supported by the 5th Mission Support Group commander, I was able to move into an apartment downtown within seven months of my arrival.

Living in an apartment was my first step to home ownership. I learned what it means to live on your own and budget your money in such a way you can sustain a comfortable living. When I first moved into my apartment I had very little furniture. Looking back, my bed was an inflatable mattress and my dining room table was something I found at a garage sale. No chairs of course, so I used a box of books, a cooler and toolbox for seating. Something you learn quickly in the military - adapt and overcome right?

With proper budgeting I was able to gradually populate my place with furniture, wall-hangings, etc. It takes patience, but with proper discipline one can do it with ease.

While I was deployed last summer, my dad contacted me about the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. This gives first-time homebuyers an $8,000 tax credit for home improvements. It sounded like a good deal to me, so in my free time I would go to one of the multi-list web pages and search for homes in my price range. It wasn't until this spring however I found the right match for me.

A friend who PCSed here from Nellis AFB, Nev., recommended the realtor he bought his home through. The realtor and I drove around Minot looking at several different homes, but the first one we looked at had me hooked. It has abnormally high ceilings, old architecture and character. Being a tall guy, the high ceilings were a real seller.

The very next morning I called up my realtor and told him I wanted to put an offer down on the house. So on my way home after work, I dropped by the realtor's office and began the negotiations.

You really do learn a lot by going through the experience. You don't really know how many players there are until you get right into it. Involved in the purchase was a representative from my bank, my realtor and his brokerage, the seller's realtor and his brokerage, the sellers, the city's loan and title processing office, the assortment of inspectors needed for a VA Loan and all the subcontracted folks hired by myself and the seller's as part of the negotiations.

Buying a house can be a lot of headache and a lot of work, but well worth it in the end. It is amazing the feeling you get when you sign your name on the loan and title - when the house officially becomes your own. Imagine owning something that big and being able to do anything you want to it with no repercussions, because you are the landlord. The feeling is like none other.

With that said, I wish you luck as you pursue your American dream. Live free or die.