WASHINGTON, DC – At a press conference today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT) announced the introduction of the Senate companion bill to U.S. Representative G. K. Butterfield’s (NC-01) World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act. Like the House bill, the Senate version, S. 1361, would also expand the very specific list of acceptable documents considered by the Federal government for Merchant Mariners who served during World War II when they apply for veterans’ status.
“I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to move this legislation forward,” said Butterfield. “These brave individuals honorably sacrificed and risked their lives to defend our great nation and preserve the values we hold paramount.”
Merchant Mariners were asked to assist in the war effort by the War Shipping Administration and many were not issued formal military records proving their service. Instead, captains of vessels kept “Merchant Vessel Logbooks” that recorded who was aboard the vessel and its intended destination, among other information. Currently, the documents permitted to satisfactorily prove service in the Merchant Marines during World War II can be extremely hard to find, may have been ordered destroyed, or never existed at all.
Representative Butterfield first introduced the World War II Merchant Mariner Service Act in the 110th Congress. The House version of the bill, H.R. 1288, will be marked up by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee next week and currently has 93 cosponsors.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Susan Collins (MA) have cosponsored the Senate bill.