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Merchant Marine Burial and Cemetery Benefits

Benefit Category: Federal

United States Merchant Mariners who served in ocean going service during December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946, are considered "active duty" under the provisions of Public Laws 95-202 and 105-368.

Information on how to obtain a DD214 or request DD214 from US Coast Guard 


(1) IN GENERAL.—The qualified service of a person referred to in paragraph (2) shall be considered to be active duty in the Armed Forces during a period of war for purposes of eligibility for benefits under the following provisions of title 38:

  • (A) Chapter 23 (relating to burial benefits).
  • (B) Chapter 24 (relating to interment in national cemeteries).
    • (2) COVERED INDIVIDUALS.—Paragraph (1) applies to a person who—
    • (A) receives an honorable service certificate under section 11203 of this title; and
    • (B) is not eligible under any other provision of law for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Reimbursement for Benefits Provided.—

The Secretary shall reimburse the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the value of benefits that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs provides for a person by reason of eligibility under this section.


(1) GENERAL RULE.—Benefits may be provided under the provisions of law referred to in subsection (a)(1) by reason of this chapter only for deaths occurring after the date of the enactment of this chapter.

(2) BURIALS, ETC. IN NATIONAL CEMETERIES.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1), in the case of an initial burial or columbarium placement after the date of the enactment of this chapter, benefits may be provided under chapter 24 of title 38 by reason of this chapter (regardless of the date of death), and in such a case benefits may be provided under section 2306 of such title.

Qualified service

For purposes of this chapter, a person shall be considered to have engaged in qualified service if, between August 16, 1945, and December 31, 1946, the person—

  • (1) was a member of the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service) serving as a crew member of a vessel that was—
    • (A) operated by the War Shipping Administration or the Office of Defense Transportation (or an agent of the Administration or Office);
    • (B) operated in waters other than inland waters, the Great Lakes, and other lakes, bays, and harbors of the United States;
    • (C) under contract or charter to, or property of, the Government of the United States; and
    • (D) serving the Armed Forces; and
  • (2) while so serving, was licensed or otherwise documented for service as a crew member of such a vessel by an officer or employee of the United States authorized to license or document the person for such service.

Documentation of qualified service

(a) RECORD OF SERVICE.—The Secretary, or in the case of personnel of the Army Transport Service or the Naval Transport Service, the Secretary of Defense, shall, upon application—

  • (1) issue a certificate of honorable service to a person who, as determined by that Secretary, engaged in qualified service of a nature and duration that warrants issuance of the certificate; and
  • (2) correct, or request the appropriate official of the Federal Government to correct, the service records of that person to the extent necessary to reflect the qualified service and the issuance of the certificate of honorable service.

(b) TIMING OF DOCUMENTATION.—A Secretary receiving an application under subsection (a) shall act on the application not later than 1 year after the date of that receipt.

(c) STANDARDS RELATING TO SERVICE.—In making a determination under subsection (a)(1), the Secretary acting on the application shall apply the same standards relating to the nature and duration of service that apply to the issuance of honorable discharges under section 401(a)(1)(B) of the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 (38 U.S.C. 106 note).

(d) CORRECTION OF RECORDS.—An official who is requested under subsection (a)(2) to correct the service records of a person shall make such correction.

Processing fees

(a) COLLECTION OF FEES.—The Secretary, or in the case of personnel of the Army Transport Service or the Naval Transport Service, the Secretary of Defense, shall collect a fee of $30 from each applicant for processing an application submitted under section 11203(a) of this title.

(b) TREATMENT OF FEES COLLECTED.—Amounts received by the Secretary under this section shall be deposited in the General Fund of the Treasury as offsetting receipts of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating and ascribed to Coast Guard activities. Amounts received by the Secretary of Defense under this section shall be deposited in the General Fund of the Treasury as offsetting receipts of the Department of Defense. In either case, such amounts shall be available, subject to appropriation, for the administrative costs of processing applications under section 11203 of this title.

Discharge Requests

Most Veteran’s benefits require that applicants provide a copy of their Form DD 214 or discharge record, which is evidence of their veteran status. This is an important document and must be safeguarded. In the State of North Dakota separation documents are considered confidential and privileged NDCC 37-18-11 (13). National Guard members may receive a NGB22 and/or NGB23 upon obtaining 20 years of satisfactory service (20 year letter).