In 1947 New York State Legislators enacted a law that provided war bonuses to members of World War II "veterans" or their next of kin. In 1988 our federal government conferred veteran status upon the Merchant Marines; New York State soon followed suit. But here's the rub, the 1947 law had a deadline that expired in 1965. As a result, Merchant Marines who served during World War II were unable to claim their one-time bonus. Now thanks to actions initiated by Assemblyman Michael J. Cuzik (63rd Assembly District, 1911 Richmond Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10314, 718-370-1384), State Senator George D. Maziarz (62nd Senatorial District, 2578 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Suite 600, Wheatfield, NY 14304, 716-731-8740), on July 6 a bill was delivered to Governor Spitzer who on July 18 signed it into law. This bill authorizes payment of a war bonus of $250 to World War II Merchant Marines or their next-of-kin. For more information you should contact your New York State assemblyman or State Senator, but do so quickly you only have one year to file the necessary paperwork.
About The Bill
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend chapter 547 of the laws of 1947 relating to providing for the payment of bonuses to members of the armed forces of the United States from this state, in relation to payment of such bonuses to members of the merchant marines who served in World War II or their unremarried surviving spouse
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: Authorizes payment of a one time war bonus provided in Chapter 547 of the Laws of 1947 to members of the Merchant Marines.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This legislation adds subdivision (f) to S 9701 of the Unconsolidated Laws to provide a $250 bonus to members of the Merchant Marines who served at sea during World War II.
JUSTIFICATION: In 1947, the Legislature enacted S 9701 of the Unconsolidated Laws providing war bonuses to members of the armed forces who served during World War II or their next of kin. Members of the armed forces included the Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Coast Guard, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, Women's Air Corps, Waves, Spars, Women Marines, Public Health Service and Coast and Geodetic Survey. Four hundred million in bonds were floated to fund the payment of the war bonuses. In 1988, the Federal Government conferred veteran status upon Merchant Marines. Thereafter, the State of New York enacted legislation that also conferred veteran status upon Merchant Marines. Unfortunately, however, the time in which to apply for war bonuses expired on March 31, 1965. As a result, members of the Merchant Marines who served during the war were unable to claim their one time bonus. The Merchant Marines were an integral and critical component of the war effort, transporting troops, artillery and supplies to combat zones. Although they were not considered military personnel, more than 8,000 Merchant Marines lost their lives during the war. While a $250 bonus is not a lot of money in today's economy, it represents payment of a debt of gratitude that is long overdue.
The Bill Itself
The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1 of chapter 547 of the laws of 1947 relating to providing for the payment of bonuses to members of the armed forces of the United States from this state is amended by adding a new subdivision (f) to read as follows: (F) notwithstanding any other provisions of this act, applications for the one time only bonus authorized by this subdivision shall be accepted for one year from the date this subdivision takes effect, and no bonus payment shall be made on applications filed subsequent to such date by any person qualified under this subdivision, unless such person can show that he or she was incapable of making such application prior to such date because of physical or mental incapacity. Any member of the Merchant Marines who was employed by the war shipping administration or office of defense transportation or their agents as a merchant seaman or as a civil servant employed by the United States Army transport service (later redesignated as the United States Army Transportation Corps, Water Division) or the naval transportation service, and who served satisfactorily as a crew member during the period of armed conflict, December 7, 1941 to august 1945, aboard merchant vessels in oceangoing, i.e., foreign, intercoastal, or coastwise service as such terms are defined under federal law (46 USCA 10301 and 10501) and further to include "near foreign" voyages between the United States and Canada, Mexico, or the West Indies via ocean routes, or public vessels in ocean-going service or foreign waters and who has received a certificate of release or discharge from active duty and a discharge certificate, or an honorable service certificate, or an honorable service certificate/report of casualty from the department of defense shall be eligible to receive a war bonus in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars, provided that no such bonus shall be paid pursuant to this subdivision to any person who received a bonus payment for service as a member of any other branch of the armed services pursuant to this section. In the event such member is deceased, such bonus shall be payable to the unremarried surviving spouse of such member. The division of veterans` affairs is authorized to make bonus payments under this subdivision after March 31, 2008 on applications received or pending on or before such date. Any inconsistent provision of this act or other general or special law notwithstanding, payments of war bonus claims after March 31, 2008 shall be made from funds appropriated to the division of veterans` affairs for this purpose from the state purposes fund portion of the general fund of the state.
Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt