RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

MERCHANT MARINE WWII COMPENSATION UPDATE 17 May 2008

Posted by Service Officer on May 17th, 2008

On 7 MAY, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee met to receive testimony on 28 separate veterans’ bills. One area of testimony of great interest to many veterans was enactment of the "Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act (S.961/H.R.23). The VA does not support S. 961 as they believe it would create a "service pension for a particular class of individual based on no eligibility requirement other than a valid certificate of qualifying service from the Secretary of Transportation or Secretary of Defense. Further, this bill would authorize the payment of a greater benefit to a Merchant Mariner…than a veteran currently receives for a service connected disability rated as 60% disabled. The second panel of veterans service organizations, for the most part did not object to S. 961, except for the costs involved and that it might take money from other programs. The final panel of former Merchant Mariners H. Gerald Starnes and Charles Dana Gibson was enlightening in expanding on some of the experiences and exploits of the men who transported all the necessary supplies to fight WW II on two fronts. The most surprising testimony was from Mr. Gibson, who as an historical writer had done extensive research on the Merchant Marine and Army Transport Service during the war. He dispelled one of the myths that the Merchant Marine had gone on strike during the war. In fact they had signed an agreement to not strike while hostilities continued and they didn’t. To read the complete testimonies of all the participants refer to http://www.senate.gov/~veterans/public/index.cfm?pageid=12&release_id=11685 [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 9 May 08 ++]

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