Legislation Aims to Honor WWII Mariners (1/30)

 

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A new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives calls for a cash payment to the surviving U.S. Merchant Mariners of World War II. It was introduced Jan. 28 by Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-California) and Congressman John Duncan Jr. (R-Tennessee).

 

It took decades to secure veterans’ status for World War II mariners. Most of those seafarers weren’t recognized as veterans until 1988. Others got the long-overdue distinction 10 years later, when the cutoff date for mariner veterans’ status was changed to match the one used for the military.

 

Following is an introductory statement by Rep. Hahn and a related news release. To access the release on Rep. Hahn’s website, click HERE

 

To access the release on Rep. Duncan’s website, click HERE

 

Congresswoman Hahn and Congressman Duncan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Repay Surviving Veteran Merchant Mariners of WWII

 

In World War II, more than 200,000 brave Americans answered the call of duty by joining the Merchant Marine, braving troubled seas to deliver crucial supplies to the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. They faced enemy attack and suffered higher casualty rates than any other U.S. service.

 

Unfortunately, the veterans of the Merchant Marine who risked their lives in the service of this nation were never eligible for the provisions of the G.I. Bill that helped millions of veterans go to college, secure a home and transition seamlessly into civilian life.

 

To right this wrong, I am introducing the “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015.” This bill would provide a onetime payment of $25,000 to the fewer than 5,000 surviving World War II Mariners.

With many of these forgotten heroes well into their 90s, time is running out to repay this debt of gratitude. I encourage my colleagues to act quickly in cosponsoring this important legislation.

 

Washington, DC—Today, Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44) and Congressman John Duncan Jr. (TN-2) introduced the “Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015.” This legislation would provide surviving Merchant Mariners who served during World War II with a modest benefit for their bravery and sacrifice.

 

During World War II, more than 200,000 Americans served in the U.S. Merchant Mariners and aided our nation’s military efforts in both Europe and the Pacific. Thousands of our Merchant Mariners faced enemy attack and died at sea while hundreds more were captured and held as prisoners of war. Despite having the highest casualty rate of any U.S. service during the war, they were not eligible to receive veteran’s benefits.

 

“The veterans of the Merchant Marine risked their lives in the service of this nation, but we have never properly thanked them,” said Congresswoman Hahn. “Let us finally right this wrong and repay our debt of gratitude owed to these heroes.”

 

The legislation would provide a one-time lump sum of $25,000 to each of surviving WWII Merchant Mariners. As many of these veterans are now well into their 90s, and fewer than five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in World War II are alive, the Congresswoman stressed the importance of passing this bill as quickly as possible.

 

“So few of these Merchant Mariners are with us today,” noted Congresswoman Hahn. “Time is running out to thank them properly, and I encourage my colleagues to act quickly in cosponsoring and passing this important legislation.”

 

Congressman Duncan said, “I have helped thousands of Veterans and those on active duty and have great respect for them. The word ‘hero’ is tossed around too lightly today, but I think anyone who puts their life on the line for their country deserves that description. Although the Merchant Mariners were not formally recognized as Veterans, they are very patriotic and brave Americans whose sacrifice for our Nation cannot be repaid.”    

 

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