NonStop Local: American Hero Fred Hamilton to attend State of the Union with Senator Tester

by Bradley Warren

Fred Hamilton of Columbia Falls, Montana is an American hero and tonight will continue to serve fellow veterans by advocating for them as a guest of Senator Jon Tester at the State of the Union.

The State of the Union is an opportunity for the president to formally announce his legislative agenda, but it’s also used as an opportunity by members of the House and Senate to invite guests that coincide with their legislative agenda.

“Fred represents the best this country has to offer, he’s a 20-year plus Air Force veteran, he sacrificed greatly in Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange, he’s somebody who deserves to have this country have his back,” Senator Tester said.

Hamilton now is receiving PACT Act benefits and helping to recruit other veterans gain access to what rightfully belongs to them for their service.

Senator Tester, who is the Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee welcomed Hamilton to Washington not just due to his involvement with the PACT Act but also because the senator has named legislation after him.

“To put it very bluntly, I am honored to be invited to this, like I told the senator before, this was never on a bucket list, I can’t explain to you what it is, it is an honor,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton like all real heros not only does not talk about himself, but wants to ensure that his fellow veterans are cared for before himself.

“Once the PACT Act was passed we reached out to VFWs, and other organizations like American Legions.. and other veterans who did not realize [what] the PACT act would do for them,” Hamilton said. “[without Senator Tester] I would not [be receiving this care] I had always been able to get a physical, but above and beyond that it came out of my pocket and the PACT Act has helped me tremendously.”

According to Senator Tester’s office, 6,000 Montana veterans and survivors have started receiving benefits following the signature by the president of the bill in 2022.

Hamilton’s presence at tonight’s event is dual purpose. On top of his involvement with the PACT Act hes there to also to advocate for legislation that the senator has introduced in his name, The Fred Hamilton Veterans’ Lost Records Act.

“When [Freds] records transferred between the DOD and the VA, they lost the records, that puts veterans… in a bad situation,” Senator Tester said, “We have a bill to fix that and it’s named after Fred Hamilton.”

Without the records, Hamilton has been unable to prove his health conditions are service-connected and has been denied benefits for almost 30 years. The PACT Act has alleviated some of that burden.

According to the Senator’s office, this legislation would ensure veterans like Fred, whose military records are lost by the U.S. government through no fault of their own, can still receive their earned benefits.

“When folks like Fred signed on the dotted line in 1968 to serve this country, we made a promise to them that if he came back home… changed, we were going to do our best to make life normal again,” Senator Tester said, “we have a volunteer military.. young people are looking at the way we treat veterans like Fred, and saying, do I want to sign up for this.”

The senator acknowledges that there is more to do, but believes right now things are heading in the right direction.