DEAR ABBY: World War II mariners, who suffered the highest casualty rate of any of the branches of service while they delivered troops, tanks, airplanes and fuel to every theater of war, were belatedly awarded veteran status in 1988 and in 1998.
Thus far, only 95,000 out of a quarter-million eligible mariners, or their survivors, have applied for veteran status. Application procedures can be found at www.USMM.org/update.html or by sending a business-size self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope to AMMV: WWII, P.O. Box 2361, Berkeley, CA 94702.
This is important because men and women who served in the U.S. Merchant Marines and the U.S. Army Transport Service may be eligible for medical care and prescriptions through the Veterans Administration. At the very least, they can tell their grandchildren they are "veterans of World War II," and can get a flag for their coffin and a grave marker.
Mariners from the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf wars, and the U.S. Maritime Service, the official WWII Merchant Marine training organization, should contact AMMV: OTHER, at the above address, so that they, too, can join together in applying for veteran status. -- DANIEL HORODYSKY, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE VETERANS
DEAR DANIEL: I am pleased that these unsung heroes are now able to receive benefits, as they should have been in the first place. Better late than never.