Although America advocates strong support for our veterans, an estimated 1,000 surviving World War II U.S. coastwise merchant mariners continue their battle with Congress to collect benefits they were promised but have been denied for decades, including burials in the country’s 120 national cemeteries.
The WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners implores our Senators to expedite passage of The World War II Merchant Marine Service Act. It is a provision of H.R. 4435 -- the National Defense Authorization Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday, May 22, 2014. The WW II Merchant Mariners Service Act is also a provision of S 2410 – the National Defense Authorization Act that is awaiting Senate approval.
In October, 2013, the Merchant Marine Act was passed as part of H. R. 2189, a bill to improve the processing of disability claims by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Act was drowning in the Senate without action since it was sent to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Eventually, it failed.
Amidst the current uproar and active investigation of the entire Veterans Affairs Department, these Acts have received little attention. Now that they are provisions of the National Defense Authorization Acts there is renewed hope for passage.
These last remaining WWII merchant heroes, who dodged Hitler’s Nazi U-Boat torpedoes and Japanese Kamikaze missions, while delivering bulk war materials to defense plants that manufactured the supplies for our U.S. troops, may all be gone before they receive the benefits they rightfully earned, if the matter continues to tread water in the Senate.
The 2014 bills will make it easier for World War II coastwise merchant marine veterans to qualify for VA benefits. While the 1977 Act recognized WWII merchant mariners as combat veterans, the criteria for benefit qualifications, including documentation of actual service, are difficult to meet. The 2014 Acts reduce the amount of documentation necessary to prove World War II service to Homeland Security officials.
These required documents were lost, denied or never issued during the 1942 recruitment rush that included youngsters, seniors, women and even partially disabled mariners that did not qualify for the armed forces but did meet merchant marine standards.
During World War II, thousands of Americans stepped forward to serve as an extension of our armed forces when our nation was in great need. These brave men and women for far too long have been denied the proper recognition of their service. The Senate must pass this bill so these fine Americans can finally receive the distinctions they deserve.
Help us make this happen by signing and sharing this petition requesting our US Senators to step up and get the job done to have these few remaining coastwise mariners recognized for their services. @: http://petitions.moveon.org/