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Posted: November 1, 2013

House approves World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act

The House of Representatives Oct. 28 approved a measure that would grant honorary veterans' status to coastwise merchant seamen of World War II and expand the list of documents accepted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to verify service during the war.

The World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act (H.R. 1288) - which was authored by Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) and drew strong bipartisan support - was incorporated into a bill (H.R. 2189) to improve the processing of disability claims by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. H.R. 2189 was approved 404-1 in the House.

"This is a special moment," Rep. Butterfield said. "For too long, the brave men and women who served their country during World War II in the merchant marine have gone unrecognized for their service. We have taken another step in an effort to do the right thing and honor these mariners while they are still with us.

"Through no fault of their own, these selfless 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," he said. "Now is the time to stand up for these great Americans and give them the recognition they rightly deserve."

Rep. Butterfield introduced H.R. 1288 in March of this year. He first introduced the World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act in the 110th Congress.

Companion legislation, S. 1361, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and was the subject of a legislative hearing held Oct. 30 by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Senate has not yet voted on the legislation.