I am an 82-year-old Merchant Marine veteran of World War II. I sailed the Pacific, delivering military goods and ammunition where needed. One in every 26 merchant mariners was killed. I cannot understand the reluctance of our two Indiana senators to join with five other senators to co-sign Bill SB961, “A belated thank-you to the Merchant Marine veterans of WW II.”

A companion bill, HR23, passed in 2007 and the wording is identical. It required a lawsuit by three merchant mariners, seeking treatment for wartime injuries, to grant veteran status and assistance from the Veterans Administration. One of these men was a P.O.W. of the Japanese. The year was 1948. Contrary to the wishes of then president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Merchant Marine veterans were denied G.I Bill benefits. The average age of WW II Merchant Marine veterans is 83+, and only 9,000 plus survive. Many are disabled, existing on Social Security benefits. Passage of Bill SB961 would make their remaining years more comfortable. SB961 is not an entitlement, but a belated attempt to compensate these deserving veterans, who were excluded from the G.I. Bill and all it’s benefits. Passage of SB961 and being recorded in Congress will forever honor our 9500 brave shipmates at the bottom of the ocean. They are our MIAs!

In addition, there is the $5,000 solution. Another slight! “A veteran — whether active duty, retired or national guard or reserve — is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America”, for an amount of “up to and including his/her life.” That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand that.

Richard G. Blare is a Muncie resident.

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