Merchant Marines who served in WWII were not given veterans status until 1988, causing many of them to missed out on earlier veterans benefits. A bill before Congress would give the remaining World War II mariners, or their surviving spouses, $1,000 a month for the rest of their lives. More than half of the U.S. representatives have signed on to the bill (H.B. 23). An estimated 10,000 World War II mariners are alive today.