America’s veterans have made countless sacrifices to protect our values and freedoms. Military medals and ribbons are critical symbols of recognizing these sacrifices, achievements, and dedication to duty, but sometimes veterans do not receive the medals they have earned and deserve.
When veterans run into roadblocks to accessing these key pieces of their service story, Jeff’s office is here to help. Just ask Oregon veteran Tim Fritts.
“I read online about Senator Merkley being a veterans’ advocate, and I said bingo,” Tim said. “I thought—I’m going for it. I’m going for it. I want my medals.”
Tim served as a construction electrician in the U.S. Navy Seabees for four years during the Vietnam War. He was in the middle of coming home from serving in Thailand when part of his battalion was discharged amid cutbacks as the war was waning. Tim says the discharge happened quickly, and in that haste, he left the Navy with just one medal and ribbon for completing boot camp—far from the only distinction he earned during his service.
He’d thought about tracking down the medals over the years, but Tim says he was too busy keeping up with three sons and now six grandchildren to fully pursue the mission. But as he faces declining health—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which has recently progressed to lung cancer—he knew it was time to ensure this important chapter of his life is left to his family.
“I’m dying, and I want to leave my medals to my sons,” Tim said.
He worked with Jeff’s office to make it happen, and in a few months the Navy sent the office four more medals Tim had earned during his service. But Jeff didn’t stop there.
“He didn’t just put the medals in the mailbox. He came to my home,” Tim said.
When Jeff visited Tim in his Gresham home earlier this year, he personally delivered Tim the medals he earned and deserved and thanked him for his service to our nation.
“Even though we are in different parties so-to-speak, he is a really nice man, and his office is helpful and friendly. They took the time to do it up as a surprise to me to come to our house and for me to meet him. It was just really cool.
“My sons and grandsons are interested in my history and military service. I know they are going to cherish my medals,” Tim said.
If you are an Oregon veteran needing assistance to access miliary medals and ribbons you earned during your service, please contact Jeff’s office to help us serve you.