Lakeport. California(Courtesy Record-Bee.com) A fan sends us the story of Lake County Sheriff’s Frank Rivero who showed up at Vista Casino for the Veterans Day ceremony. When it was asked for all Military Veterans to raise their hands, he did so as youth passed out handmade cards to the veterans, thanking them for their sacrifices and their service to the people of the United States. Only one problem, he is not a Veteran.
VFW Post 2015 Judge Advocate Larry Mick said, “As a Vietnam vet it meant so much to me to get those cards of appreciation. They made those cards for us,” he added. “It means a whole lot — the innocence on their faces and the appreciation for all the veterans.”
Lake County President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Dean Gotham said, “It’s not good for anybody to pretend to be a veteran. You either are or you’re not and to pretend is a tremendous disservice to those who did serve.”
Rivero told a caller on his KPFZ radio program Friday that he is a veteran with the Merchant Marine Reserves in the Coast Guard.
During World War II, there were Merchant Marines with the Navy who obtained veteran status, but according to the Merchant Marine’s Human Resources (HR) Department, that is not the case now. The HR representative said any Merchant Marine with veteran status would have a DD214, which is the official United States military discharge document.
Rivero supplied Lake County Publishing with two documents, which he said were proof of his veteran status.
One is a license issued by the United States Coast Guard that allowed Francisco Jose Rivero from 2005 to 2010 to operate “a steam or motor vessel of not more than 50 gross registered tons upon near coastal waters; also authorized to engage in commercial assistance towing.”
The second was a merchant mariner credential that he obtained in 2010. The certifications appeared to be associated with Rivero’s mortuary business in San Francisco.
Rivero said he does not have a DD214.
Founder of Lake County’s Operation Tango Mike, Ginny Craven said, “I find claiming false veteran status to be disgusting. It is stolen valor.”
Military veteran Brian Martin said, “Normally I don’t like to speak for large groups of people, but I feel comfortable saying that pretending to be a veteran is disgraceful and disgusting.” He added, “I am very proud of my military service and the service of my fellow veterans.”
If he had been a member of the Coast Guard, then yes he would have been a Veteran. But Merchant Marines are not classified as Veterans –
“While the U.S. Government does employ some persons with Merchant Marine credentials to work on various types of government-owned ships, the Merchant Marine itself is not a military service, nor is it an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy during peacetime, and merchant seaman themselves are not military personnel. A “merchant marine” is the commercial fleet of a nation, the ships are owned by various shipping companies. U.S. merchant ships are regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation, and The Maritime Administration.”
The United States Merchant Marine is the fleet of U.S. civilian-owned merchant vessels, operated by either the government or the private sector, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is responsible for transporting cargo and passengers during peace time. In time of war, the Merchant Marine is capable of being an auxiliary to the Navy, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.The Merchant Marine however, does not have a role in combat, although a merchant mariner has a responsibility to protect cargo carried aboard his or her ship.
Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, harbors, and other waterways.
As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet numbered 465 ships and approximately 100,000 members. Seven hundred ships owned by American interests but registered, or flagged, in other countries are not included in this number.
The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command and the National Defense Reserve Fleet. In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, various laws fundamentally changed the course of American merchant shipping. These laws put an end to common practices such as flogging and shanghaiing, and increased shipboard safety and living standards. The United States Merchant Marine is also governed by several international conventions to promote safety and prevent pollution.
While the U.S. Government does employ some persons with Merchant Marine credentials to work on various types of government-owned ships, the Merchant Marine itself is not a military service, nor is it an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy during peacetime, and merchant seaman themselves are not military personnel. A “merchant marine” is the commercial fleet of a nation, the ships are owned by various shipping companies. U.S. merchant ships are regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation, and The Maritime Administration.