Merchant Mariners denied benefits, still fighting for fellow veterans

Charles Mills is 95 years old, but he is still trying to make the world a better place.  “I’ve been a Boy Scout since 1934,” he says proudly.  Mills is part of a group of veterans that is dying off quickly.  “We lose about 200 every year.”  The Merchant Marine was not a recognized part of the U.S. Military until 1988.

“They said we were not combat veterans.  I don’t know where they were, but I know where I was, and I was in combat,” says Mills. 

He and other Merchant Marine veterans are hoping a bill that has about two dozen supporters in Congress will pass.  Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D) of California penned the bill, which would award 25 thousand dollars to each of the five thousand surviving Merchant Marine veterans. 

James Giblin, age 91,  says, “Some of them need the money.  I don’t.  But I would like the recognition.” 

Santos Flores is 89.  He still remembers the sting from so many years ago.  “It’s not right the way they done us.  We didn’t get nothing.” 

The good news is,  it’s not too late to make things right for those who are still alive.