On Your Side: Iraqi War Vet Facing Foreclosure

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

News 12 at 6, June 26, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA-- If you have a roof over your head, consider yourself lucky. A record number of people are losing their homes with foreclosures on the rise again this year, and it's no different here in Augusta.

And a local Iraqi war veteran is struggling to keep his American dream.

Anibal Santiago is a single dad who went from fighting on the front lines in Iraq to fighting to keep his Grovetown home.

Anibal Santiago says this house was a Christmas gift for his nine-year-old son Louis in 2005. He bought it so the pair could be finally be together again after spending 3 years apart while he recovered from his injuries.

This February, it became a gift he could no longer afford.

"I was scared, and I prayed, and I cried." says Santiago.

The 40-year-old injured Iraqi war veteran has a fixed income and is living off of his disability payments. His home has an adjustable rate mortgage so when interests rates increased, so did his mortgage to a point he could no longer afford.

"I was sad because I did not want to lose it for him, his present."

So Santiago filed bankruptcy in hopes of saving his home and instantly became like so many other Americans fighting to stay afloat.

Nationally in March 2006, foreclosures rose 72 percent from 2005. This year, they're up another 38 percent.

His attorney says she now sees about 50 people a month in his same situation. This year alone, she's seen a 20 percent increase in the number of people losing their homes all together.

But Augusta Mortgage President Larry Moss says foreclosures aren't an epidemic in Augusta like they are in Atlanta. However, he does warn customers against adjustable rate mortgages.

"Why take that risk if you can get a fixed rate today that’s only half a percent higher than what that arm rate is initially." adds Moss.

And as interest rates continue to rise, more Augustans may soon find themselves in Sanitago's shoes.

"I'm doing the best I can." But Santiago is not out of the woods yet. He needs an increase on his disability payments soon. If he doesn't, his attorney says he will probably loose his house.

So if you're facing delinquent payments there are things you can do to try and prevent foreclosing?

The biggest advice we found was to get into a fixed rate mortgage by refinancing your home. That might not work for everyone, but filing for bankruptcy should be your last resort.

Either way, the earlier you reach out for help, the better your option and credit rating.

UPDATE: Click here for an update to this story.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Alyshia Santiago Location: Morganton,NC on Mar 14, 2008 at 07:15 AM
    Having just seen your story about Mr. Santiago, I am delighted to know that our son Luis is alive and well. I haven't seen my son for almost eight(8)years now because your esteemed Mr. Santiago violated a court custody order and fled with my son. I filed charges against my husband for Parental Kidnapping. Obviously, Mr.Santiago was not convicted because the district attorney at the time refused to prosecute. At the time this occurred, Luis was two(2) years old and there was an order for joint custody. My husband and I alternated weeks with Luis. The weekend of July 4th,2000, I met my husband at the court-designated location. I relinquished him to his father. The following Sunday, I went to pick up Luis, but my husband never showed up. I went to court and was awarded full custody. I went to the only place I thought they would be to get my son and was told they had left for Puerto Rico. With no prosecution and no warrant, I had no recourse. If you really want to help someone, help me!
  • by Jill Maxwell, News 12 Assignment Manager Location: North Augusta, SC on Jul 25, 2007 at 08:20 AM
    As a result of concerns expressed on our web site, we have been doing some additional research into our story about Mr. Santiago. We value our viewers input and take their concerns seriously. Comments posted here have prompted us to probe a little deeper. As a result, News 12 has obtained Mr. Santiago’s DD-214 for his retirement.

    First, we should make sure we are talking about the same person. If you provide us with his full name, date of birth, social security or any other information that would appear on his military records to specifically identify Mr. Santiago, we would be able to confirm this. (We will not post these on our web site, only use them for verification against the DD-214).

    Also, are there any additional documents you feel we should obtain to address your concerns? A reference was made to his DD-214, which we have obtained.

    As we said above, we are following your advice and are looking into this matter. We will keep you posted on any developments.

  • by I know Location: tn on Jul 13, 2007 at 09:57 AM
    This is the biggest false testimony I have heard yet!! Santiago never went to Iraq and certainly never saw an IED, but is very good at threats to others if he doesn't get his way. The facts should be checked through the Department of the Army before airing and making news 12 look like Dan Rather!! The Army has gone above and beyond their call on this case.
  • by Heather Meadows, News 12 Web Producer Location: North Augusta, SC on Jun 28, 2007 at 09:52 AM
    Yes, and yes! Click here for the update.
  • by Valerie Williams Location: Langley SC on Jun 28, 2007 at 09:20 AM
    Is there an update to this story? Hopefully good news?
  • by william steiner Location: Toms River on Jun 26, 2007 at 07:51 PM
    Dear Soldier, I am willing to help you with regards to your mortgage issue. I have launched a website called www.freedomloan90.com I urge you to surf the website in order for you to gain important knowledge about your rights and better understanding the process. William Steiner senior loan officer 1st metropolitan mortgage
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