U.S. Navy veteran Jonna Padgett knew CalVet’s Home Loans Program existed, but had never taken advantage of the program.

Veteran and homeowner Jonna Padgett with contractor Greg Garbolinsky.

Contractor Greg Garbolinsky of Aristotle Custom Homes was aware of the program, though he was relatively new to the state and had not yet built a home for a veteran in California. Even so, he encouraged her to look into it when she hired him to rebuild the home she and her family lost in Paradise to the Camp fire in November 2018.

Consequently, Padgett contacted CalVet and loan originator Charles Hite, and they began the application process. “I spoke with him directly, and he explained exactly what we were going to do at each stage,” Padgett said. CalVet offered her an interest rate she said was a full percentage point lower than what the big banks quoted.

The new construction loan went through as promised. When construction began in January, CalVet’s periodic payments to Garbolinsky arrived efficiently as well. He completed his work in late July; and Padgett, her husband Dana Padgett and children (including son Sean, a Navy veteran) moved in to their new home built upon the site of the old one.

Now, count them all as big fans of the CalVet Home Loans Program that will turn 100 years old in 2021. Happy veteran client and family, happy contractor.

“CalVet is the way to go,” said Padgett, who spent nearly seven years in the Navy and works in patient resources at the Feather River Health Center in Paradise.

When the fire claimed the home and belongings they could not get out, her insurance settlement and some other fire-related payoffs enabled her to pay off the mortgage and own the property. In reality, she owned nothing more than a vacant lot. When it came time to rebuild, she began working with Garbolinsky who understood what it was like to endure a fire.

He lost a home in 2016 to the Fort McMurray fire, which destroyed 2,400 buildings and was the most destructive blaze in Canadian history. He moved to California in 2018, rebuilding some homes destroyed by the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. Then came the Camp fire, which devastated the town of Paradise. It killed 85 people and burned 19,000 buildings, 14,000 of which were homes including Padgett’s. He began building there.

Rebuilding in Paradise specifically has been anything but simple. Two years after the fire, officials there have issued only about 1,000 permits. Garbolinsky has learned how to work through the processes in order to complete his construction projects in a reasonable amount of time.

When asked if Garbolinsky would refer other veteran clients to CalVet? “Absolutely,” he said. Throughout the state, CalVet loans up to $638,000, depending on the county, for a house. And unlike other lenders, CalVet’s construction loan is not a take-out loan. You do not need a construction loan and a take-out loan. CalVet combines the two to save the veteran costs and interest. CalVet has the flexibility and innovative programs that enable it to work with veterans to finance homes that the big banks simply will not.

That, and the efficiency of the process, benefits veterans like Padgett. It is also why contractor Garbolinsky plans to send more veterans CalVet’s way.

“We have more people we’re talking to,” Garbolinsky said. “CalVet has good deals for veterans.”


The CalVet Home Loans program is the foundational cornerstone of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. For nearly 100 years it has helped veterans build, rebuild, and own homes, and it will continue to do so for well into the future. For more information on obtaining a CalVet home loan, CLICK HERE or call us directly at 866-653-2510, we are happy to help.

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