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Last year the Veterans Administration announced that those who served in the Merchant Marine are now recognized as veterans of World War II. This long overdue recognition was welcomed by myself and those who survived that segment of the war effort.

Not many realize that up to 1943 there were more of our young men lost in the war effort in the Merchant Marine than any other branch of the armed forces.I was thrilled that now something was being done for those I had always felt were legitimate veterans of the war. And so, armed with all my credentials of participation in the Merchant Marine, I applied for those "benefits."

I received an honorable discharge certificate and was interviewed by a representative of the Veterans Administration. I was also given a booklet, the cover of which read "Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents. Proudly Serving Those Who Served."

During our conversation I had questions as to the so-called benefits:

Q. Would there be any hospital care and medical treatment? A. If you are on a poverty income you can receive this benefit. If you end up in a rest home you might be eligible for some help.

Q. Would there be any compensation? A. Because of your income, there is none.

Q. Would there be a pension? A. Same as above.

Q. The representative brought up the question about a home loan guarantee. A. This one is a laugher. What would a veteran, 70 years old, be doing with a loan on a home at 10 percent? Or at any percent? He might get it paid off by age 100, if he is luckier than most.

Q. Are there any survivor benefits? A. If you were one of those "lucky" ones who was killed, your survivors (who would that be? You were 20 when you went in the service) would receive some benefits, such as education, etc.

Q. Are there really any benefits? A. Forty-five years ago there might have been. It would have been nice to have had aid in getting an education. The sad thing is this "benefit" is after the fact.

However, in all honesty as to the treatment given me by my government, I do appreciate surviving World War II, receiving an honorable discharge, a $150 burial plot allowance (receivable upon evidence of death) and my family receiving an American flag draped on my coffin. Thank you for your generosity.

R. Douglas Quayle

Salt Lake City