This is a contentious topic, that I’m sure many of the gCaptain readership has a some type of opinion on. I understand the arguments from both sides. I’m of the personal opinion that Merchant Mariners who have been subject to certain occupational conditions SHOULD receive veterans status and benefits. I don’t think your charter fishing boat captain should, but probably the AB on an MSC Oiler getting harassed by Iranians should.
Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and even today, many merchant mariners provide a vital service to our nation’s armed service. Some even see combat action, even today. I never have, but I have had friends that have been harried by Iranians, harassed by Chinese and Russian ships and aircraft, and transported the entire arsenal of the US Military, Tanks, Humvees, Missiles, Munitions, Jet Fuel, etc.
The “Maritime Service” is not a uniformed armed service, and I am not advocating that it be recognized as such. Some Merchant Mariners may be Naval Reservists, or work as Civilian DOD Employees, but work on a merchant ship is decidedly different from naval service.
Whatever your opinion, I’d like to hear it, both the long time commenters as well as the lurkers. Since we are talking about the American USMM in this post though, if you are not a stakeholder in the American maritime industry, please refrain unless your contribution adds value.
In the words of FDR:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during signing of GI Bill on June 22, 1944
“I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country.”