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An executive order signed by President Trump on March 4 will make it easier for military personnel to transition into the U.S. Merchant Marine.

The Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and Military Veterans into the Merchant Marine order states: “It’s the policy of the United States to support practices and programs that ensure that members of the United States Armed Forces receive appropriate credit for the military training and experience towards credentialing requirements as a Merchant Mariner.  And it’s further the policy of the United States to establish and maintain an effective Merchant Marine program by providing sufficient support and resources to active-duty and separating service members who pursue or possess Merchant Mariner credentials.”

According to Peter Navarro, who is assistant to the president for manufacturing and trade policy as well as director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, the order “makes it easier for sea service veterans to get high-paying, high-skilled jobs as mariners by waiving government-issued licensing fees and by crediting military training in the National Maritime Center credentialing system.”

In addition, Navarro wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News that the order “helps enable veterans apply their education and experience on military ships toward the mariner credentialing curriculum, thereby removing other costly barriers.”

He added during a press call, “In these ways, it incentivizes our nation’s most experienced seamen to enter the U.S. Merchant Marine, which is sometimes called the nation’s Fourth Arm of Defense. Currently, we face a shortfall of Merchant Mariners that may have serious national security implications.”

Veterans Administration Secretary Robert Wilkie noted, “By fast-tracking the transition into the Merchant Marine of trained and credentialed service members, President Trump is meeting an important national security need while providing meaningful, well-paying jobs to our nation’s heroes.” (Wilkie stated his grandfather had been a mariner.)

The MTD and its affiliates have been working for years with the Defense Department and the military services to transition the skills and credentials earned while serving in the armed forces directly to civilian merchant mariner documents and licenses. The MTD and its Port Maritime Councils have supported the American Maritime Partnership’s “Military2Maritime” program that affords veterans the opportunity to maximize their professional strengths by meeting with representatives from maritime companies, training schools, unions and others to learn about careers in maritime industry.