Hello Mr. Pugmire:
Yes, you will need to get your eligibility certificate from VA. That is the relatively straight forward part of the process.
The next thing to do is get pre-approved for a home loan (not pre-qualified) with a reputable local lender.
Who you eventually choose will depend on where you are looking for a home exactly (which city).
I know for a fact that the ability of any particular lender to actually close a home loan at the terms they quote and by the required deadline varies widely from lender to lender. Unfortunately, a home buyer does not realize that they are working with a substandard lender until it is too late to find a replacement lender.
I know this as an agent, because I tend to work with the same local lenders over and over. I know which lenders can get the job done and which lenders can't.
If you are looking for a home in Yuba or Sutter county, please let me know, and I can refer you to a competent local lender.
Sorensen and Associates