Sunday, June 8, 2014

NC Representative Bob Steinburg, R-NC-01 sponsors Resolution in Support of WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners



GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SESSION 2013
H D
HOUSE RESOLUTION DRHR40228-LG-227 (05/22)
Sponsors: Representative Steinburg.
Referred to:
*DRHR40228-LG-227*
A HOUSE RESOLUTION URGING CONGRESS 1 TO ENACT LEGISLATION THAT WILL
2 LEAD TO THE RECOGNITION OF WORLD WAR II COASTWISE MERCHANT
3 MARINERS AS VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
4 Whereas, during World War II, United States Merchant Mariners who served along
5 the coastline of the United States, and were known as Coastwise Merchant Mariners, helped to
6 transport materials, including food, clothing, and weapons, to members of the United States
7 Armed Forces serving on three continents; and
8 Whereas, the Coastwise Merchant Mariners bravely performed their duties even as
9 they were in danger of attack from German U-boats operating along our nation's coastal waters;
10 and
11 Whereas, many of the Coastwise Merchant Mariners were elderly, handicapped,
12 women, and underage children who stepped forward in the time of a national crisis to ensure
13 that the members of the United States Armed Forces were sufficiently supplied as they fought
14 enemy forces; and
15 Whereas, because of administrative rules and decisions made by the United States
16 Navy, many Coastwise Merchant Mariners who served during World War II were not
17 recognized as veterans and thus were not eligible for the veterans benefits they had earned; and
18 Whereas, in the years following World War II, as a result of some changes in
19 federal law and federal rules and regulations, some of the Coastwise Merchant Mariners
20 previously denied veterans benefits were finally recognized as veterans and therefore entitled to
21 the same benefits as other veterans of the United States Armed Forces; and
22 Whereas, despite the past recognition of some Coastwise Merchant Mariners as
23 veterans, as many as 30,000 Coastwise Merchant Mariners may never get that recognition due
24 to the documentation required to prove their service during World War II; and
25 Whereas, through no fault of these courageous individuals, much of the
26 documentation proving they served their country during World War II as Coastwise Merchant
27 Mariners has been lost or destroyed or was never recorded; Now, therefore,
28 Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:
29 SECTION 1. The House of Representatives honors the brave men, women, and
30 children who valiantly served our country as Coastwise Merchant Mariners during World War
31 II.
32 SECTION 2. The House of Representatives urges Congress to do the following:
33 (1) Conduct congressional inquiries into (i) the lack of recognition given to the
34 World War II Coastwise Merchant Mariners who were lost in action without
35 having been recognized by our nation as veterans and (ii) the reason World
H.R. 1256
Jun 5, 2014
HOUSE PRINCIPAL CLERK
General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013
Page 2 DRHR40228-LG-227 (05/22)
War II Coastwise Merchant Mariners records that are known to exist have 1 not been moved to the National Records Center for use by families and 2 researchers in accordance with agreements between the National Archives 3 and Records Administration and the Department of Defense. 4
(2) Enact legislation that expands the types of acceptable documentation that 5 Coastwise Merchant Mariners may use to prove their service during World 6 War II, and to thereafter require that those who can provide the 7 documentation be finally recognized as veterans entitled to the 8 accompanying benefits. 9
SECTION 3. The Principal Clerk shall transmit a certified copy of this resolution 10 to the President of the United States, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of 11 Representatives, the President Pro Tempore and the Secretary of the United States Senate, the 12 members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation, and the news media of North 13 Carolina. 14
SECTION 4. This resolution is effective upon adoption. 15

Monday, May 26, 2014

WW II Merchant Mariners Refused Memorial Day Benefits

May 23, 2014

WWII Merchant Mariners Refused Memorial Day Benefits

SS John W. Brown, one of two surviving operational Liberty ships, photographed in 2000

As America memorializes its fallen service men and women this weekend, the estimated 10,000 surviving World War II U.S. merchant marines continue their battle with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to collect benefits they were promised but have been denied for decades, including burials in the country’s 120 national cemeteries.

The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, the world’s oldest preeminent professional merchant marine union, implores Senators returning to Washington after the Memorial Day recess 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 provision is authored by North Carolina Democratic Congressman G. K. Butterfield who has pursued legislation for three years that empowers World War II U.S. Merchant Mariners with eligibility for veterans’ status and benefits.  The bill now heads to the Senate.

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, according to MM&P. Eventually, it failed.

“Amidst the current uproar and active investigation of the entire Veterans Affairs Department, the Act has received little attention,”  says Captain James Staples, MM&P’s Senior Advisor. “Now that it is a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act there is renewed hope for passage.”

He continues, “These last remaining WWII merchant heroes who dodged Hitler’s Nazi U-Boat torpedoes and Japanese Kamikaze missions, while delivering supplies to U.S. troops, may all be gone before they receive the benefits they rightfully earned, if the matter continues to tread water in committee.”

Staples is a 35-year deep ocean vessel captain and amongst the world’s foremost maritime industry experts often appearing on national news channels and in major daily newspapers. “In 1977 passage of the GI Bill Improvement Act deemed WWII merchant mariners as combat veterans entitled to healthcare and disability benefits, presentation of medals and ribbons and flagged-draped casket and 21 gun salute funerals.”

Congressman’s Three Year Effort For Passage

According to Congressman Butterfield, “The 2014 bill makes it easier for World War II 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, were difficult to meet. The 2014 Act reduces the amount of documentation necessary to prove World War II service to Homeland Security officials.”

According to the Congressman, “These required documents were either lost, stolen 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,” says Butterfield.  “These brave men and women for far too long have been denied the proper recognition of their service.  With the help of my colleagues, I hope the Senate passes this bill so these fine Americans can finally receive the distinctions they deserve."

If the Act passes the Senate, these veterans, many 85 or more years-old, might still be able to enjoy the few benefits they can actually use, which even includes such minor privileges as retail and travel discounts for veterans, according to Staples.

World War II Merchant Mariners

From 1941 to 1945, American private industry-owned cargo, vehicle transport and tanker vessels transported armaments, fuel, supplies and troops to the European and Pacific theaters. These so-called Liberty ships were lightly armed, voyaged in convoys, sometimes with destroyer escorts; they were easy enemy prey, especially when a solo ship wandered -off course in fog or was unable to maintain speed, according to Staples, a 35 year veteran ship captain and president of OceanRiver Maritime Consulting.

“Among the most widely publicized attacks that terrorized many Americans was the July 8, 1942  sinking of the Tanker MS J. A. Moffett. It was attacked by Nazi U-571 off the coast of the Florida Keys while heading to a Port Arthur, Texas refinery, returning from delivering fuel to the Port of Baltimore,” recalls Staples.

According to the now-defunct U.S. War Department, There were more than 3,000 merchant marine Liberty Ships. More than 200,000 merchant mariners serving during World War II. More than 9,000 merchant marine men and women were killed in action. More than 15,000 were seriously injured.

World War II Recruiting

While the Army, Air Corps, Coast Guard, Navy and Marines had physical and age requirements for enlistees and recruits, the U.S. Maritime Service did not.

People eager to serve but unqualified for the armed forces found solace in the U.S. Merchant Marine Service. It officially accepted 16 year old boys; unofficially accepted youngsters and even senior citizens, including retired ship masters in their 70's. Often overwhelmed Navy recruiters intentionally denied qualified candidates; insuring plenty of merchant mariners.

Merchant Marine vessels were known as Liberty Ships

Hollywood popularized the Merchant Marine in 1943 with the release of "Action on the North Atlantic" starring Humphrey Bogart. Enlistments increased substantially.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

NDAA Bill HR 4435 Passes the House and on to Senate

Butterfield’s Bill to Honor World War II Merchant Mariners Passes the House

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with provisions authored by Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01). Butterfield successfully offered an amendment to the NDAA that expands the list of documents accepted by the Federal Government to prove service and grant veterans status to a forgotten segment of the Merchant Marine that operated domestically during World War II.

Butterfield said, “For decades, brave men and women who served their country during World War II in the Merchant Marine have gone unrecognized for their valiant service. Through no fault of their own, these individuals have been unable to prove their service because the documents needed to prove service have either not survived over time or never existed at all. Today, the House of Representatives did the right thing and took the first step needed to honor these mariners while they are still with us.”

Last year, Butterfield introduced H.R. 1288 to make deserving World War II U.S. Merchant Mariners eligible for veterans’ status and certain veterans’ benefits, and has championed the effort to recognize these mariners for the past three Congresses.

In October, H.R. 1288 was passed a part H. R. 2189, a bill to improve the processing of disability claims by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; however, the bill failed to pass the U.S. Senate.

The National Defense Authorization Act, with Butterfield’s Merchant Mariner provisions, now heads to the Senate where it will have to be passed and then signed by the President before it becomes law.

A most welcomed surprise for our National Maritime Day. Thank you Mr. Butterfield.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

NOTICE TO ALL HANDS...MISSING VETERAN HONORS

NOTICE TO ALL HANDS… MISSING VETERAN HONORS

New Research had discovered another major gaffe concerning our WW II Merchant Marine.  During WW II our US Merchant Marine suffered perhaps the highest casualty rate than any other services.  One in Twenty-Six has been reported as the rate of loss for these mariners.  The chart below provides specifics.  What is tragic about this is our Nation has failed to acknowledge those lost Mariners as veterans to this country.  If one serves this country and gives his life in the line of combat duty, should this nation not recognize him for that sacrifice?  Apparently not.  Research had revealed that about 9500 Mariners made the ultimate sacrifice and only about 425 have been awarded the distinction as veterans.  What happened?  Did the government lose/destroy these records?  Not so; and still no one is attempting to correct this travesty.  This is an embarrassment to our nation.

Our government has known of this and has done nothing about it for over 70 years.  How can our nation be so callous as to just forget about those that gave their lives so others may live?  How can they keep making promises to our troops by telling them they will be taken care of if they take care of business over there?

In every political rally/speech made by any politician it is completely clear on how they stand.  Words spew from them all the time saying “we must not forget our veterans”; “we must take care of them when they come home”; we will not let our veterans down.”  Our politicians quickly forget all the avowals made and little is upheld.

Agreements have been in place allowing our researchers an opportunity to identify more of our mariners; but actions to comply with the agreements have not taken place for those that control the personnel records of our mariners and inquiries as to why they have not complied are needed.
 
 Now I ask of you ---did these brave men and women of courage, those who now reside in silence beneath the frigid waters, give themselves, along with all of their tomorrows, for but a single day in their often short lives?  Or did these gallant departed Americans die for all who will follow them in the future?  Something must be done.  Please contact your members of congress and demand they correct this grave injustice.

US MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES FROM WW II

MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES FROM ALL CAUSES = 9521* usmm.org
MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES IDENTIFIED BY USCG PER 1950 REPORT = 5662* USCG 1950 ISSUE
MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES FROM OTHER SOURCES =   3859* ADDT’L SOURCES (A. MOORE & US CONGRESS)
MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES RECOGNIZED AS VETERANS = 344* US National Maritime Center (US NMC)
MERCHANT MARINE CASUALTIES RECOGNIZED BY NMC BUT NOT IN USCG 1950 REPORT = 70* US NMC

FINDINGS9521 MERCHANT MARINERS KIA OR MIA SERVING OUR COUNTRY AND ONLY 414 HAVE RECEIVED RECOGNITION AS VETERANS.


For additional information contact:  J. Don Horton as jdonhorton@embarqmail.com

Sunday, March 16, 2014

STAND BY FOR THE STAMPEDE

A  MUST Read!

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday.  If all of us “old farts” have all of the money, then let us try to elect a congress and a president who might be near honest and not be after feathering their own nests.
 
They like to refer to us as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs.  Some of us are "Baby Boomers" getting ready to retire.  Others have been retired for some time.  We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were.  We have worked hard, raised our children, worshiped our God and grown old together.  Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill, and that is probably true.  But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration

In school we studied English, history, math, and science which enabled us to lead America into the technological age.  Most of us remember what outhouses were, many of us with firsthand experience.

We remember the days of telephone party-lines, 25 cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.  For those of you who don't know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators.  A few even remember when cars were started with a crank.  Yes, we lived those days.

We are probably considered old fashioned and outdated by many.  But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off.  We won World War II, fought in Korea and Viet Nam.  We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.  We wore the uniform of our country with pride and lost many friends on the battlefield.  We didn't fight for the Socialist States of America; we fought for the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."  We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag.  We know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, America  and  America the Beautiful by heart, and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing.  We have lived what many of you have only read in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America.

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us. We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are going to save it.  It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us.  We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to keep.  There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.

It was mostly the young people of this nation who elected this low producing congress.  You fell for the "Hope and Change" which in reality was nothing but "Hype and Lies."

You have tasted socialism and conservatism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don't like it after all.  You make a lot of noise, but most are all too interested in their careers or "Climbing the Social Ladder" to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting.  Many of those who fell for the "Great Lie" in 2008 are now having buyer's remorse.  With all the education we gave you, you didn't have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the 'Kool-Aid.'  Now you're paying the price and complaining about it.  No jobs, lost mortgages, higher taxes, our government so deep in debt our grandchildren will never pay it off, less freedom and nothing being done with a congress that has set a record for accomplishing less.

This is what you voted for and this is what you got.  We entrusted you with the Torch of Liberty and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.

Well, don't worry youngsters, the Grey-Haired Brigade is here, and in 2014 we are going to take back our nation.  We may drive a little slower than you would like but we get where we're going, and in 2014 we're going to the polls by the millions.

This land does not belong to the man in the White House nor to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.; or any other group of would be congress members.   It belongs to "We the People" and "We the People" plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.  We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to our grandchildren.  So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our country, and thank God for the old geezers of the "Grey-Haired Brigade."

Footnote:
This is spot on.  I am another Gray-Haired Geezer signing on.  I will circulate this to other Gray-Haired Geezers all over this once great country.

Can you feel the ground shaking???    
IT’S NOT AN EARTHQUAKE, IT A STAMPEDE..
 
 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Senate Bill S 1982 Omnibus Bill for Veteran Benefits including Coastwise Merchant Mariners benefits

A broad Department of Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops was rejected in the Senate on Thursday. The measure, sponsored by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), did not garner enough Republican votes to waive a VA spending limit established under the budget Congress and President Obama approved in December.

These are comments from some of our political leaders and citizens:

“I don’t know how anyone who voted ‘no’ today can look a veteran in the eye and justify that vote,” said Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of the American Legion. “Our veterans deserve more than what they got today.”
“We have veterans dying from long waits for basic, necessary tests like colonoscopies,” Burr said Thursday. “Veterans waiting for their disability claims to be processed know all about frustrations and delays at the VA, and adding more individuals to an already broken system doesn’t seem wise.”

Jeff_NC
3/1/2014 6:22 AM EST
Where is the national media coverage on this??? GOP blocks Veterans' bill due to budget concerns? Are you freaking serious??? Every Veterans organization in the country supported this bill. The same Republicans were not concerned with the budget when they voted to send us to Iraq. Now, $1 trillion later, they blocked a $21 billion Veterans bill due to budget concerns? Unconscionable!!! I really can't believe this!!! GOP BLOCKS VETERANS' BILL BECAUSE IT WOULD BE A BUDGET BUSTER !!! GOP doesn't give a damn about Vets, only sending them to war!!!

Larnan5
2/28/2014 8:17 PM EST
24 Veterans associations backed the bill. The GOP/TEA said NO! Our armed forces can fight and die to protect most of the reps who have never served. How pathetic! Just ask them and they will tell you about their patriotism and point to the flag on their lapel.

garycrittenden
2/28/2014 12:31 PM EST
For anyone that wants to blame one political party over the other....don't you really think there is enough blame to go around? Show me ANY of them that will truly stand up for a Vet....

Althea2
2/28/2014 9:02 AM EST
24 years of war, and the republicans par for the course don't want to help fund veterans care. Remember this next time the republicans say they are for the troops. All but two voted against this bill, and they all voted against raising COLA for our vets. Why? Well they seem to want to create more vets by marching us along the road to a war with Iran, or it could be because Republicans in general don't think we owe our vets anything, or it could be their corporate owners told them not to.

I saved the best for last. I share these sentiments of OReilly, Gsc

Sean OReilly Gsc
2/28/2014 4:44 AM EST
Those who praise war but never serve are really not qualified nor fit in this vets opinion, to sit in judgment of those who provided the blanket of security and freedom under which this nation lives and sleeps. Truthfully, we are far more concerned with you and the safety of this nation than we are a COLA point. Both parties fail us, and we fail ourselves and this nation by not better educating ourselves and our kids in the founding articles of our freedoms and exercising the only true equal right that we really have; our right to vote, Less than 30% have ever even read the US constitution or understand the beacon of hope it has been in an unjust world. As a result you voice opinions, conjecture and you point fingers at one another. All indicative of a national ignorance and you demonstrate a serious lack of understanding of what our freedom means. Less than 1% of you serve the nation, which is not bad in and of itself but when you ended the draft you removed the visceral connection between the citizen and the soldier and now, none of you, nor most of congress, understand how the military really works or even care.
To those who say we are free loaders or that we should be happy with the bond of trust that has been broken. I can only shake my head in wonder. We who served you are only able to rain down upon the enemies of our American freedom with a swift and awful hand of doom because we believe that while we fight and die for you overseas, you will have our backs here at home.
I urge you all to educate yourselves before it's too late to save this great nation and get back to leading the world instead of fighting like spoiled brats in the back seat of the car.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

UPDATE TO: HR 1288 “WW II MERCHANT MARINERS SERVICE ACT” 24 Jan. 2014

UPDATE TO:                                  HR 1288 “WW II MERCHANT MARINERS SERVICE ACT”           24 Jan. 2014
                      …………AND THE MAZE IT IS TREADING………….
HR 1288 was introduced in the 213th Congress and rapidly gained 94 cosponsors as a standalone bill with a CBO score of DeMinimis, meaning costs were not relevant.  This is a feat that I have been told is extremely rare.  Bills simply do not reach that level or success from an individual without significant support from Veteran Service Groups or strong political clout.  It happened and with very limited support beyond the sponsors of HR 1288.  It takes a great deal of sacrifice, a lot of hard work, determination and dedication.  It cannot be done with a simple request and set back to wait for an answer. Apply due diligence and remove the word no from the table.
In July I received some pleasant news that on 23 Jul, Senators Murphy, D-CT and Blumenthal, D-Ct and Senator Collins,  R-ME would introduce S 1361, a carbon copy of HR 1288.
In August I was notified that HR 1288 was to be incorporated into another bill HR 2086 and within a week, I was again notified that HR 2086 was to be incorporated into an Omnibus bill, HR 2189 that was headed up by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL, and Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  This bill passed the House on a called vote with only 1 dissention.  It moved to the Senate Floor and is awaiting Senate approval or review.
In October, I was notified that S 1361 was to be incorporated into an Omnibus bill S 1581. Shortly afterward I was informed that they had gutted the wording of S 1361 and reduced it to performing a Review. This is the new wording:
SEC. 812 of S 1950: REVIEW OF DETERMINATION OF CERTAIN SERVICE OF MERCHANT MARINERS DURING WORLD WAR II.
 (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security and such military historians as the Secretary of Defense recommends, shall review the process used to determine whether an individual performed service under honorable conditions that satisfies the requirements of a coastwise merchant seaman who is recognized pursuant to section 401 of the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–202; 3.  8 U.S.C. 106 note) as having performed active duty service.
 (b) REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives a report detailing any findings, actions to be taken, or recommendations for legislative action with respect to the review conducted under subsection (a).

This past week I found from my own investigation that another Omnibus bill S 1950, introduced by Senator Sanders, I-VT and Chairman, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, will incorporate S 1581 with the wording pertaining to the Process Review.  Action on S 1950 has only had a first reading is awaiting Senate action.  It is my understanding that if S-1950 clears the Senate; it will have to be reviewed with HR 2189 that still contains the complete wording of HR 1288.

The WW II Coastwise Merchant Mariners oppose this Review as it serves no purpose other than additional delay, added costs and having more seafarers leaving our ranks without their due recognition as veterans.  The process is already there and simply needs additional steps to include allowance for lost, destroyed and/or denied documentation and an avenue of recognition for those who were discriminated against due to age, gender or disability.  Today we are standing by awaiting action.

UPDATE TO POST:  S-1950 was incorporated into still another Omnibus bill S-1982 an when it came time to be heard on the Senate floor, it was voted down.  Now we still have the original bill S-1361 but is is languishing in Congress with little or no interest from our Senators or the sponsors.  We must now gain the interest of new cosponsors in order to move this bill to the forefront.