Let’s say you are a 22 year old male in the military and you’re not great at PT. Which branch of the service would give you the easiest chance at passing the PT test? Let’s compare each branch and see what it would take to complete the bare minimum.

US Army

Standards are found here. To pass you would need:

  • 2 mile run in 16:36 (16 minutes, 36 seconds)
  • 40 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 50 situps in 2 minutes
  • 22% body fat

US Air Force

Standards are found here.To pass the Air Force PT test you would at least need:

  • 1.5 mile run in 13:36 (13 minutes, 36 seconds)
  • 33 push-ups in 1 minute
  • 42 sit-ups in 1 minute
  • 39 inch or less waist

Note: The numbers above are bare minimum for each event and would actually be considered a failure. You need to do better in at least one of the other categories to pass the test.

US Navy

Standards are found here.

  • 1.5 miles run in 13:30 (can be run on treadmill) or at commander’s discretion: 500 yd swim in 13:00, eliptical for 14 minutes, or stationary bike for 14 minutes
  • 37 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • 46 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • 23% body fat

US Marines

Standards are found here.

For the Physical Fitness Test portion:

  • 3 mile run in 28:00 minutes
  • 3 pull-ups
  • 50 sit-ups

Note: Like the Air Force, you must do better than the minimum in at least one of the events to pass the entire test, as it works on a point system and the minimum for each area is not sufficient.

For the Combat Fitness Test portion:

  • Run 880 yard Movement to Contact course in 4:13
  • Lift 30 pound ammunition can from shoulder height to overhead 33 times within 2 minutes
  • Complete 300 yard Maneuver Under Fire shuttle run course in 3:58

Result:  US Navy has the Easiest PT Test

Comparing everything together, the Navy has the easiest PT test, due to the lower requirements, and range of options available to complete the run portion (treadmill, bike, swim, etc).

Run Times

We can compare the run times as a one mile pace:

Service One Mile Pace
Army 8:18
Air Force 9:04
Navy 9:00
Marines 9:20

The Air Force has the slowest one mile pace. But while the Navy is just four seconds faster, they can run their test on a treadmill. This gives you a significant advantage, allowing you to simply stay on the treadmill at a set pace rather than pace yourself on a track through the entire test.

The Marines have the hardest test, having to keep a 9:20 pace for three miles!

Easiest run time: Navy


Service Push-Ups
Army 33
Air Force 40
Navy 37
Marines n/a

The Army requires the least amount of push-ups for any service.


Service Sit-Ups
Army 50
Air Force 42
Navy 46
Marines 50

The Air Force requires the least amount of sit-ups. The Navy is not far behind.

How the PT Test Impacts Promotion

While this review of service PT tests showed that Air Force and Navy tests were the easiest, it is important to note how each branch factors these tests into promotions.

From my experience, the Army and Marines place high importance on PT performance. So if you got the minimum scores listed above, you would be looked at poorly on a performance report.

However, Air Force and Navy are typically pass/fail with their PT tests. As long as you are passing the test, your supervisor will be happy. You can still get a glowing performance report if everything else with your work is stellar.

How PT is Integrated into Daily Work

Another factor to consider with these tests is how often you can work out as part of your normal duty day. Army and Marines will provide more time during work hours to run and stay fit. They will have more challenging programs which will likely keep you in shape.

The Air Force has improved in this area, and some squadrons have good PT programs. But you can not expect a Navy or Air Force unit to keep you in top shape like a Marines unit would. You will have to do more on your own to stay in shape.

Keep the big picture in mind when choosing which service to join, and which PT test seems the easiest!

two VA loanI’ve long held the assumption that you could only have one VA loan. I assumed you had to sell your first home or refinance before moving to a second. Well as a current holder of two VA loans, I can definitely tell you that you CAN take out two VA mortgages!

Why Two VA Loans?

My original VA loan was for a home near Shaw AFB. That property is financed with a low rate (2.25%), 15 year mortgage. The rental income almost covers the payment each month, but the loan is paying off fast! I did not want to sell the home but rather wanted to keep paying it off for a while to gain equity.

We did not plan on buying a home when we moved to Robins AFB, but after looking for several months we changed our mind. Rent is fairly high in Warner Robins and many nice, affordable homes were for sale that kept us well under BAH.

We had enough money for a small down payment on a house, but not the 20% that is typically required to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which can add over $100 per month to your mortgage. I was also unsure if we would qualify for an almost 100% financed home without VA.

VA Loan to the Rescue

The second VA loan gave us the 90% financing we were looking for, at a low interest rate. It did not have any effect on our previous VA loan.

We purchased an awesome 2,300 sq ft home in a nice neighborhood, with good schools.

Unfortunately, the second VA loan is not a completely new entitlement, but rather a remainder of what you originally spent on the first home.

How to Calculate Your Remaining VA Eligibility

max va loan limit

Maximum VA Loan Limit for Warner Robins, GA

Step 1: Calculate your maximum VA loan limit at your new base, which according to the VA is located here. For most areas this amount will be $417,000. Assuming I am moving to Robins AFB, my new loan limit for Houston County, GA, is $417,000.

Step 2: Subtract the loan value you started with to purchase you first home from the limit. So let’s say I purchased a home at Shaw AFB for $200,000. My VA eligibility at my new base is $417,000 – $200,000 = $217,000.

So the end result is after purchasing a $200,000 home near Shaw AFB, I can take out a second VA loan of up to $217,000 at Robins AFB.

To help understand this, the VA has some examples posted here. I have used a simple way to calculate remaining entitlement, but they are multiplying the same numbers by 25%, because technically that is how much of the loan the VA guarantees. Even though they use 25%, the numbers work out the same.

What if the Home I Want is More Than My Eligibility?


If the home you want to buy is over your remaining eligibility, you will have to make a down payment equal to 25% of the amount that is over. So from the previous example you saw my eligibility for Robins AFB was $217,000. The home we wanted to purchase was $240,000 or $23,000 over. So our required down payment was $23,000 x .25 = $5,750.

Why 25%? Technically, when the VA backs a loan for you, they are guaranteeing to pay 25% of the loan if you default. So in reality, your VA entitlement is $104,250, which can buy a $417,000 home. If you use buy a home at $200,000, technically you have $54,250 in VA eligibility left… and $54,250 can get you a $217,000 loan.

My Bank Says I Have Zero Eligibility

From my experience many banks do not understand how to calculate eligibility for a second VA loan. Additionally, when banks try to look up your VA certificate it will sometimes appear that you have zero eligibility remaining.

I initially tried to get a second loan with Pentagon Federal and they were adamant that I had already used my VA loan. I even talked to a supervisor and could not convince them of the process for a second VA loan. I finally cut my losses and went with Navy Federal who understood it completely.

Beware of the Higher VA Loan Funding Fees

va loan funding fees

VA Loan Funding Fees

Your first VA loan has a funding fee of 2.15% if you did not provide a down payment. Every VA loan after that has a funding fee of 3.3% funding fee. This is a fairly high fee, and for a $200,000 loan would be $6,600!

The fee applies even if you sold the first home and were not taking out two VA loans at one time. The fee can be financed into the loan, but I do not recommend it.

Let’s say you purchase a home worth $200,000 and finance the funding fee of 3.3%. So your beginning loan balance is $206,600. With a 30 year mortgage at 3.0%, your loan balance in three years will be $192,874. With a 6% realtor fee you would need to sell for at least $204,500 to break even.

The way to avoid this fee is to put at least 5% down. At 5% down your funding fee drops to 1.5%. So from the last paragraph, if we put down 5% ($10,000) but finance the funding fee, our beginning loan balance is $200,000 – (200,000 x .05) + (190,000 x .015) = $192,850.

Can I Take out More Than Two VA Loans?

Man you are greedy! Just kidding. From what I have read, technically you could take out as many loans as you want as long as you do not go over your VA eligibility.

So for most areas your entitlement is $417,000. You could purchase four homes at $100,000 each, all financed on VA loans. The catch is that you have to live in every one of those homes to get the initial loan. So that would have to be four separate assignments where you purchased homes at each.

Delta’s New Pricing Model is Terrible for Military Families

June 29, 2016

Military families need to watch out when booking flights through Delta, as their new default pricing ‘Basic Economy’ sets you up for a nightmare on the aircraft. Basic Economy Explained When browsing Delta.com, the lowest prices displayed are now ‘basic economy’ fares. With these fares your seats are not assigned until check-in. That would typically be […]

Read the full article →

My Biggest Mistake as a Landlord

June 27, 2016

My wife and I have been landlords for about six years. The biggest and costliest mistake we made during that time is renting to a subpar tenant. What do I mean by subpar tenant? Story time! We were fortunate to have a great renter during the first three years of renting out our home. Our tenant got […]

Read the full article →

Should You Sign Up for a Military STAR Card?

June 24, 2016

No. No you should not sign up for Military STAR card, ever. Every time I see a promotion for Military STAR card at the BX, a part of me dies inside. I was once a young Airmen shopping at the BX, naively thinking a STAR card would be ‘good for me’ and allow me to grow […]

Read the full article →

The Best Portable Phone Charger

June 23, 2016

Have you every been on a long plane ride and had your phone die? Or had to search for plugs in airport only to find half of them don’t work? It’s happened to me many times and is very annoying! I now have a Jackery Giant portable phone charger and am able to charge my […]

Read the full article →

The Best Water Bottle

June 22, 2016

Carrying a water bottle to PT, on flights, a deployment, or even around the office is a great way to keep fresh water at your fingertips. In this post I will compare three water bottles I’ve owned over the past 10 years in the military and show why I feel the Hydro Flask is the best […]

Read the full article →

Should You Attend College Online?

June 19, 2016

Too many of you are attending online degree programs. I know you are thinking ‘but Casey attending college is a good thing and I’m getting my degree while working around my crazy military schedule.’ Guess what, you have something other people want that is of great value: tuition assistance and the GI Bill (aka $$$). […]

Read the full article →

7 Ways to Watch US TV Overseas

July 18, 2015

1. Netflix Netflix has a lot of great content. They ship to APO addresses, although it does take a bit longer to receive the discs in the mail. Top Shows: Futurama, 30 Rock, How I Met your Mother, The Wonder Years (yeah that’s right!), Breaking Bad, Lost 2. Hulu During the first part of my […]

Read the full article →

Property Tax Rates by State

July 11, 2015

This calculator provides an average annual property tax bill, which can be used to estimate property tax before purchasing a home. I tested it against my home in South Carolina, and it was within $50. Select State: ALAKAZCACOCTDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPARISCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYDC Enter Home Value: Result: The data is based on a 2010 study (PDF) of average owner-occupied state […]

Read the full article →