Letters: Veteran status wrongly denied

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General released a preliminary report Wednesday, May 28, 2014, stating the patient care at the Phoenix VA hospital was compromised and that scheduling issues are "systemic" throughout the VA hospital system. (Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen)

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Regarding "Battle for benefits" [News, June 23], about the nurse cadets from World War II asking to be granted veteran status, thank you for publishing our story.

However, I wish to correct misconceptions by Bradley Mayes, director of benefits for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He told Congress in 2009 that veteran status for the nurses is inappropriate because we weren't in the military. The program did not require us to join the service, submit to military discipline or stay longer than we wanted to.

We cadets were educated, given uniforms and salaried by the federal government, just like the military. We were committed to work until the war was over.

The care of patients isn't for everyone, and some cadets couldn't handle it, so they had to be allowed to leave.

Many of us were just teenagers. We worked hard and were the homeland caregivers. The cadets covered hospital shifts by ourselves from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If the war had continued and there was a need for nurses for the military, there is no doubt that we would have been called to serve.

Eleanor Moffatt, Lynbrook

Editor's note: The writer served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.
 

Nurse cadets want to be granted veteran status. I say, good luck with that.

Merchant mariners have been fighting for veteran status ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised them when he signed the G.I. Bill in 1944. Congress did not include merchant marine veterans in the original bill, which helped their armed comrades attend college or vocational training, start a business or buy a home. It wasn't until the late 1980s that merchant mariners were granted access to disability pensions and medical care.

The merchant mariners had higher casualty rates than any of the other services, including the U.S. Marine Corps. Merchant mariners wore uniforms, were recruited and trained by the government, were subject to military orders, fought U-boats and bombers alongside their Navy Armed Guard shipmates, had ships torpedoed from under them, were prisoners of war, participated in most of the major battles, and got medals for valor.

The only problem was that the seamen's paychecks came from the shipping companies that chartered their ships to the military, instead of from the War Department. Regularly, bills are submitted in Congress to make up for the benefits the survivors deserved but never got. None has ever passed.

John Eastlund, Wantagh

Editor's note: The writer volunteers at the Long Island Maritime Museum.
 

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