WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Just Compensation Committee, a non- profit unincorporated committee of Veterans representing the interests of World War II Merchant Marine veterans, announced today that Congressman Buyer (R-IN) is withholding a full committee vote on H.R. 23 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR00023:), a proposed bill that would compensate remaining World War II Merchant Marine veterans that were denied the G.I. Bill of Rights that the other military services received following the conclusion of World War II. H.R. 23 has been awaiting a full- committee vote for the past several months, but has been road blocked by Congressman Buyer for political purposes. Currently, H.R. 23 has 267 co- sponsors and is allocating $1,000 a month for remaining Merchant Marine veterans and their widows. "The Merchant Mariners of World War II sacrificed their lives in order for troops, ammunition, gasoline, military equipment and supplies to reach the war front overseas, and to still prevent these remaining veterans from being compensated for their service in the name of politics by Chairman Buyers is devastating," said Ian Allison, co-chair of the Just Compensation Committee. "It's not only wrong but also unethical to spend billions of dollars on the Iraq War and still refuse a committee vote for thousands of World War II veterans from an entire auxiliary service that have been trying for over 60 years to gain some compensation for the G.I. Bill of Rights they were denied. How you treat your veterans from yesteryears is a good indication on how you plan to treat veterans from today's wars." As of October 2006, H.R. 23 has collected 267 co-signers while the Senate companion bill S. 1272 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.01272:) has collected 41 co-signers. Merchant Mariners' Participation During World War II WWII Merchant Marine veterans were responsible for piloting slow moving cargo vessels, known as Liberty Ships, which transported the supplies necessary to win the War. Their acts of heroism delivering oil, gasoline, ammunitions, food, water, troops and military equipment across the seven seas, resulted in the highest casualty rate compared to the U.S. Military branches during WWII. One of out every twenty-six (26) Merchant Mariner was killed during the War. They were also the only auxiliary service under the U.S. War Department to accept volunteer civilians with handicaps and missing limbs, and had the highest concentration of minorities. Moreover, Merchant Marine officers, which, trained at their own federal service academy known as the Merchant Marine Academy, were the only federal academy cadets to train off base unlike other federal service academies that prohibited their cadets from training off base during World War II. Why World War II Merchant Mariners Were Denied G.I. Bill of Rights Unlike the traditional military services whose servicemen received the G.I. Bill of Rights, Merchant Mariners were volunteer civilians who were paid by Maritime companies to operate U.S. Government "Liberty Ships" on behalf of the U.S. War Department. As a result of the Merchant Mariners civilian status, they were denied the G.I. Bill of Rights and veteran status by Congress following the conclusion of World War II. However, Merchant Mariners' were still ordered to boot camp just like their counterparts in the military, and their officers trained at a federal service academy. As a result of being denied veteran status, World War II Merchant Marine veterans were treated like second class citizens when returning home from the war. Their non-veteran status meant they had to wait to return home until veterans were sent home first, and were passed over for post-War jobs that were preferentially given to veterans. Since Merchant Mariners were classified as non-veterans, they were denied the G.I. Bill of Rights, which meant further hardships for Merchant Mariners when they returned home from World War II. The G.I. Bill of Rights provided among other things, college tuition assistance, competitive loans and rates, insurance, etc. About Just Compensation Committee The committee is a non-profit unincorporated committee of Veterans registered with the Internal Revenue Service as the Just Compensation Committee. The committee has been fighting for World War II Merchant Mariners rights for the past several years and is co-chaired by Ian Allison.
SOURCE Just Compensation Committee