The forgotten vets | AspenTimes.com

The forgotten vets

Dear Editor:

I am an 83-year-old merchant marine combat veteran of World War II. I sailed and delivered goods and ammunition to our armed forces in the Atlantic and Pacific theater, and luckily survived with only a few disabilities for my wartime service.

Along with other merchant mariners of this conflict, we have been seeking the support of our U.S. senators to join the other senators who have signed as cosponsors of Senate Bill S961, entitled “A Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007.”

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska introduced the bill, which calls for just compensation for the merchant marines of WWII.

These mariners suffered the highest casualty rate of any branch in the military. For every 26 merchant mariners who served, one was killed in the line of duty. Yet they were not recognized for their service by the U.S. government until 1988.

Sadly, our senators seem to be reluctant to sign as cosponsors.

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A companion Bill, HR23, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30 of this year. The bill had the support of many house members who were cognizant of our dire needs.

There are approximately 10,000 surviving merchant marine veterans whose average age is 83. Many of these veterans have only their monthly Social Security payments to make ends meet.

When President Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill in June, 1944, he said, “I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to the merchant mariners who have risked their lives time and time again during the welfare of their country.” With his death, mariners lost one of their most ardent champions.

We are hopeful that the senators will address this urgent need and support our cause. This bill is not an entitlement, but rather a belated acknowledgment of the role merchant mariners played in securing our victories in World War ll.

For more information, please call the Just Compensation Committee at (800) 545-4173.

John B. Scalzo

Rifle