Now before I actually pose my question, I might as well set a bit of context. As some of you may know, I am currently enrolled at a Maritime Academy with the intention of being an officer (unlimited tonnage) in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Now obviously, the USMM is, generally speaking, a civilian organization and is simply an auxiliary to the navy, in the exact same way that the civil air patrol is to the air force. However, there is no uniform standard throughout the entire USMM (though obviously unions require it), and, well, it's definitely a whole lot saltier than the Navy. And yet, there are times when I'm required to wear the uniform of the day off-campus, and, well, it just feels weird. A good number of vets (including one 'Nam vet whom I'm good friends with, and has actually worked at the academy I attend) insist on extending their gratitude and military courtesies to me, and I can't even begin to count the times I've been given a military discount while wearing the uniform. However, I feel like a hack. Sure, I will no doubt be on the receiving end of potshots by pirates, and probably sail through hostile waters at times, and I do wear a uniform and undergo training overseen by CG, Navy, and MC personnel, but I do not have a CAC, just a TWIC (though apparently some Civil Air Patrol kids use their CAP IDs to get discounts ), and when I retire (hopefully I won't die before that ), I'll be writing a letter of resignation, not signing a DD214. So, I guess what I'm asking is you guys' opinions on the matter, especially those of our servicemen here. Are Merchant Mariners considered to be in the same 'club' as it were as those of the uniformed services? Or are we more like postmen or cops or firemen? Anyways, sorry for the spiel that may or may not be incoherent, but thanks for your input!