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2016 VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2



Beyond the Hospital Featured Cover Story

Page 16

Invictus Games 2016 Games for our Wounded Warriors (Story featured on page 19)

Day in the Life

Photo contest winners

(Story featured on page 9)

A Fingerprint of Love Written by a Fisher House guest and volunteer (Story featured on page 13)

Contents Social Media Support


Fisher House Golf Classic


Guest Family­Profile: The Robles Family


Fisher House Volunteer of the Year


Medal of Honor Society


Journal Entries


Day In the Life Photo Contest


Ways to Give


Meet the Staff


Fisher House Salutes


A Fingerprint of Love


Hero Miles


Team Fisher House


Cover Story: Healing Beyond the Hospital


Golfing for Good


2016 Invictus Games


Meet the Manager


House Round-Up


Fisher House Dedications


Hearts in the Community


The Race is On


Community Groups in Action


Down Range


Fisher House Directory


FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN AND CEO Kenneth Fisher PRESIDENT David A. Coker CHIEF OF STAFF Mary Considine EXECUTIVE EDITOR Kerri Childress MANAGING EDITOR Ashley Estill LAYOUT AND ART DIRECTION ds+f Address all correspondence to: The Patriot Fisher House Foundation 111 Rockville Pike Suite 420 Rockville, Maryland 20850 Phone: (301) 294-8560 Fax: (301) 294-8562 Email:

About Fisher House Foundation, Inc. The Fisher House program provides a "home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes provide free temporary lodging so military and Veterans’ families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis. Recognizing the special sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, and their families, Fisher House Foundation helps by meeting a humanitarian need outside the scope offered by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. This is a unique program, a private-public partnership to support America’s military heroes, both Veterans and active duty service members, in their time of need. Each Fisher House is located on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers in the United States, as well as locations in Europe. Our houses provide a comforting, first-class “home away from home” while loved ones receive care in an unfamiliar environment — all at NO COST to the service member or their families. This special support is very important during the most stressful time — the hospitalization of a loved one. Each Fisher House provides all the comforts of home — a spacious dining, living, laundry and family room, kitchen, and private bedrooms for families to retreat and rejuvenate after a stressful day at the hospital. While the road to recovery is different for every family, one thing remains the same — Fisher House is there to provide comfort and compassion.

also proud to administer and sponsor Scholarships for Military Children, Heroes’ Legacy Scholarships, the Hero Miles program, the Hotels for Heroes program, Team Fisher House, and co-sponsor the Newman’s Own Awards program and the Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program. By contributing to Fisher House Foundation or any individual Fisher House facility, you can make a difference in the lives of America’s service members, retirees, Veterans and their families when they need help the most. Fisher House Foundation and individual Fisher Houses depend on public donations to continue our important work. If you designate your contribution for a specific purpose or Fisher House, 100 percent of your donation will be allocated for that purpose. Furthermore, Fisher House Foundation never discloses the names of its donors to any other individuals or organizations without expressed permission, and does not solicit contributions by direct mail or telephone. Once built, each Fisher House is gifted to the U.S. government for operation. Military service secretaries and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the homes. Fisher House Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, builds new houses, assists in coordinating private support and encourages public support for the homes. Donations to Fisher House Foundation or individual Fisher Houses are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law.

In addition to constructing new houses, Fisher House Foundation continues to support existing Fisher Houses and help individual military families in need. The Foundation is Fisher House Foundation thanks Don Schaaf & Friends, Inc. in Washington, D.C. for your donated services in designing The Patriot.


Cover photo courtesy of Craig Orsini

LETTER FROM KEN FISHER Dear Friends, Fisher House Foundation stays busy year round. However, I have to tell you these past six months were a roller coaster ride: full of excitement and anxiety but, in the end, exhilarating and rewarding for everyone involved. Not only did we dedicate two new houses since the last Patriot, we were one of the primary sponsors of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016, and I served as the Chairman and CEO of the games. I was often asked what I wanted the Invictus Games to achieve. Three words came to mind — HONOR, EDUCATE and SERVE. They are the same goals we have each day at Fisher House Foundation. We seek to honor service to country and the sacrifices made by our military and Veterans — and their families — that all too often go completely unnoticed, such as the needs of caregivers. We seek to educate people around the globe about the devastating impacts of the war, seen and unseen, on entire families. Finally, we seek to serve those men and women and their families who need our support, either through finding refuge in a Fisher House, a flight using Hero Miles, scholarships for education, or adaptive sports.

Fisher House Program by the


It is a privilege and honor to lead Fisher House Foundation, as well as participate in bringing the Invictus Games to America. Supporting these games brought us full circle — we helped many of these families during challenging times when they were first injured, and then were able to be a part of their success at the games. Having my own family with me in this monumental effort showed me first-hand that all things can be accomplished with family by your side. It is extraordinarily rewarding to see how far everybody has come and that these families continue to thrive. Sincerely,

$320 Million Savings for Families in Lodging and Transportation Cost

7 Million Days of Lodging Offered

Kenneth Fisher Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation @KenFisherFHF


277 Thousand Families Served

71 Fisher Houses in Operation The statistics in this graphic are calculated since the Fisher House program’s inception.

Charity Ratings: A+ Fisher House Foundation works hard to be a good steward of the resources entrusted to us. It is a privilege to do the work we do, and we are proud to hold the highest ratings awarded by the top national charity watch dog organizations. Fisher House Foundation has received an A+ from CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) in their “Veterans and Military” category. Out of 55 charities rated, Fisher House Foundation is one of only three charities to receive their distinctive A+ rating. Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation their coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management for the 12th consecutive year, a rating achieved by less than one percent of the charities in the country that they monitor. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016



FACEBOOK FEEDBACK “Family being with you could be a difference between life and death when the will to live is involved.” — Judi M. “Thank you for providing us a home when I was diagnosed with cancer after we moved. Three countries in two months with a toddler was stressful, but my family was welcomed with open arms at the Fisher House, and we are forever grateful!” — Konnie M. “I cannot say enough great things about Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House in Gainesville, FL, has been the bright spot in the bumpy road. The staff and the other families provide comfort during trying times. If you are looking for a charity to donate to, I highly recommend you research this fabulous organization. We hope my dad's stay at the VA hospital will not be long, but until he leaves mom and I will be here.”

TWITTER LOVE Mike Dowling @MikeD0WLING Thank you @FisherHouseFdtn for all you do. I’ve seen first hand the tremendous resource you are to military families UHG Gives @UHGGives @myUHC& @Optum employees excited to celebrate #MilitaryAppreciationMonth by donating care kits to @FisherHouseFdtn Hope For The Warriors @mzfancee A great day supporting @FisherHouseFdtn at their 2016 #Golf Classic in support of their expansion in Charleston, SC!

— Dawn M. “Very grateful to Fisher House for being there in our time of need. I am going to be traveling back and forth from Louisiana and North Carolina to be with our son during his chemotherapy. God bless you and all you do for these families.” — Tricia L. “While he was in hospice, I helped my dad donate several hundred thousand air miles to Fisher House. He'd be so very touched to know he helped things like this happen. Thank you for the work you do, Fisher House Foundation! <3” — Melissa D.



JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Don’t forget to connect with us on Instagram too! and share your story with us using the hashtag #FisherHouse!

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Over the past decade, our sponsors and committee members have helped raise over $7 million for Fisher House Foundation, helping to build the network of over 70 Fisher Houses currently in operation. Over 200 golfers participated in the 2016 Fisher House Golf Classic, to provide funding for a future Fisher House in Charleston. Teams were composed of current and former military members, Medal of Honor recipients, government officials, wounded and injured Veterans, and corporate partners. Thanks to the great volunteers and everyone who helped make the Golf Classic such a success.

C us e Golf

Save the Date! The 2017 Fisher House Golf Classic will be held on May 8 to benefit the future Fisher House in West Haven, CT. For information or sponsorship opportunities, visit



GUEST FAMILY PROFILE: The Robles Family Story and photos by Kerri Childress

NAME: Deborah and Edwin Robles HOUSES: Ft. Bragg and Richmond Fisher Houses HOME: Charlotte, NC MILITARY BRANCH: Army

Deborah Robles is a walking, talking advertisement for Fisher House. “Yes ma’am, I never go anywhere without making sure folks know about Fisher House,” said Deborah, sitting in the Ft. Bragg Fisher House dining room with her family. “When I walk in a grocery store or Walmart, I ask them to support the Fisher House and then explain what a Fisher House is. It seems the very least I can do for an organization that played a big role in bringing my husband back to me.” Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Robles (Ret.), was a 91B mechanic in the Army stationed in Afghanistan when an IED exploded near him. Although he survived the explosion, the injury later caused him to suffer a major stroke that left him unable to walk, talk or even eat. It was a devastating time for him and his family, remembers Deborah. That was in 2013. Ed was initially treated at Ft. Bragg where they stayed at the Fisher House for three months and where they first met Lorie Southerland, the home’s manager. He was then sent to the polytrauma center at the VA hospital in Richmond, VA, where Deborah and her son lived at the Fisher House for more than five months. Since then he has been back and forth for treatment at Ft. Bragg, staying with his dear friend Lorie at the Fisher House. Ed and his wife, Deborah, stayed at Ft. Bragg Fisher House, where Lorie Southerland, the manager, helped each step of the way. Ed promised if he ever walked again, that one day he would dance with Lorie. In June 2016, they danced to “The Blue Danube,” among tears and cheers. [Pictured left]



Ed Robles, second from right, is joined by his family for a celebratory dinner at the Ft. Bragg Fisher House. From left to right: Andrena Ledbetter, niece; Richard, son; Deborah, wife; Earline Laguerre, friend; and Akyah Ledbetter, niece.

“You have to understand, Ed needed help getting out of bed, getting into his wheelchair, transferring to a car. You name it, Ed needed help with it,” said Deborah, as Ed shook his head in agreement. “I simply couldn’t do it alone. So in came Lorie. She’d help me lift Ed and was so gentle and kind. No matter how busy she was, she’d come running whenever I needed her. Remembering all those times makes me cry, I just can’t help it. What in the world would I have done without her? Without Fisher House?”

“Miracles happen all the time at Fisher House,” said Lorie. “This was one of them.” If you’d like to see a video of the dance, go to Fisher House Foundation’s YouTube page.

As Ed slowly started speaking and getting some of his mobility back, he told Lorie that one day when he was walking again, he was going to come back and dance with her. She remembers the time well and prayed for that day to happen. And it did. On the day the new Ft. Bragg Fisher House was dedicated, in June 2016, Deborah, Ed and their family were there to help celebrate. Yet, the biggest celebration came after most folks had left. As “The Blue Danube” played, Ed and Lorie waltzed in front of the statue of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher. There were cheers and tears, and no one was happier than Ed and Lorie.






At Fisher House, we recognize not only the service of our managers, but also those volunteers who do so much to assist the managers in caring for our military and Veterans’ families. Last year, volunteers provided more than 94,000 service hours at VA and military Fisher Houses, and the Foundation’s annual Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes some of these “unsung heroes.”




Emily began volunteering with the Landstuhl Fisher House two years ago as a member of their Meals Team. In 2015, she took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator. This role requires between 30-40 volunteer hours each week. In this role she has implemented structure to the volunteer teams, overseen volunteer functions, handled all social media, designed a new logo for the houses, and is currently tackling implementing a marketing plan and a new website. When her family moved to Germany, she was a brand new first-time mom and decided to put her career on hold to focus on her family. However, when an opportunity to volunteer with the Landstuhl Fisher House presented itself, she eagerly jumped in. When asked about her time with the Landstuhl Fisher House, she replied: "My time volunteering at the Landstuhl Fisher House has been incredibly special. I feel so blessed to have the privilege of continuing to pursue my passion of serving military families. The Fisher House mission is one I'm so proud to be helping with. I have witnessed firsthand how providing a ‘home away from home’ has helped these families through difficult times. Receiving this award was completely unexpected. However, I will treasure it always as I continue my work at the Landstuhl Fisher House." Emily is married to Captain Douglas Mabe, a C-130 pilot in the Air Force. She and Doug are the proud parents of a 2-year-old son, Liam Findlay Mabe.





Volunteering Since: 2014 Total Hours Volunteered: 908 Hours



Volunteering Since: 2015 Total Hours Volunteered: 450 Hours



Volunteering Since: 2015 Total Hours Volunteered: 100 Hours

Medal of Honor Society Honors Fisher House Program The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. We are fortunate to have a special plaque hanging in nearly every Fisher House, often presented to the Fisher House manager by a Medal of Honor recipient. With these solemn words, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society honors the Fisher House program: “Dedicated to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher for their unselfish commitment to improve the quality of life to the members of our Armed Forces and our Nation’s Veterans and families by providing a ‘Home Away From Home’ for those who are serving and who have served.” The military represented by this plaque exemplify the bravery of the men and women who wear and have worn our nation’s uniform.

Wright-Patterson AFB Dedication: April 2011 Sergeant First Class Ronald Rosser, USA (Ret) salutes the flag at the Wright-Patterson AFB Fisher House dedication on April 29, 2011. As a forward observer in Korea, Rosser’s platoon came under fire from two directions. Disregarding the enemy fire, he charged the enemy positions armed, with only carbine and a grenade, three times to allow his platoon to withdraw. Though he was wounded, he made several trips across open terrain, still under enemy fire, to help remove other men injured more seriously than himself.

Augusta VA Medical Center Dedication: October 2011 Major General James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret) addressed the audience at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Fisher House ribbon cutting on October 5, 2011. Livingston was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam where, despite heavy fire and isolation, he rallied his men to rescue another Marine company under fire. Wounded three times and unable to walk, he steadfastly remained dangerously exposed to deploy his men to more tenable positions and supervise the evacuation of casualties before he allowed himself to be evacuated.

Fort Bragg Dedication: June 2016 Colonel Gordon Roberts, USA (Ret) and Colonel Joe Marm, USA (Ret) pose with Lorie Southerland, spouse Fire Chief Erik Southerland and Fisher House Foundation President David Coker at the Fort Bragg Fisher House opening, June 9, 2016. In Vietnam in 1969, Roberts, while under heavy enemy fire, assaulted four enemy bunkers to save the men in his platoon and evacuate the wounded. In the same campaign, Marm single-handedly attacked enemy positions to save his own platoon, all the while severely injured. Both were awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Fisher House is honored to support Medal of Honor recipients who have called Fisher House their home while receiving treatment, including Florent Groberg and Kyle Carpenter. To learn more about the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, visit



Entries from Fisher House Guests Within the walls of each Fisher filled House guest suite are journals of a s with entries containing storie or just loved one, encouraging words, will rds a simple thank you. These wo g in be read by the next family stayin and ce that room, for them to find pea se hope. Here, we share a few of the s. words, written by our familie Fisher House This is my second stay at the with his while my son has been dealing enough you medical issues. I cannot praise to wn sho for the warmth and kindness are We e. us during this challenging tim d the so blessed to have been afforde ul "home utif opportunity to stay at this bea of the sity away from home.” The genero day I one y Fishers is humbling, and I pra shared. e hav can pay forward the love they se Hou er Ron and Don [Eglin AFB Fish men g din managers], you are both outstan r you for d and may you always be blesse n bee e hav t service to this home and all tha welcomed by you.

of This world is a much better place because you two, and we will always be grateful for you kindness!



the This is my second time here at e com to py hap was I se. Fisher Hou y, awa ss stre of lots es back. It tak y knowing that I have a home awa at gre so was f staf The from home. ng so in welcoming me back and bei t tha ilies fam er oth helpful. The were here are also very helpful and supportive.

has a This house always way of lif ting myfeespil rIitscan and making me go forward. seem enough. Saying thank you just doesn’t biopsy. lung a My Veteran is here having all who iate rec I am very grateful and app the ke ma to e have made and continu Fisher House available.

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Alaska Fisher House Photo by Stephanie Herren


Manager’s Choice

Each year the Foundation sponsors a “Day in the Life” photo contest to help depict what happens within a Fisher House. It’s often hard to describe the camaraderie and bonds formed, so we’ve reached out to our houses to help show that through photos. Here we highlight the winners and a few others.



Dallas Fisher House Photo by Bruce M. Morris

Fisher House for families of the Fallen (Dover AFB Fisher House) Photo by Tsgt. Jason Armstrong

If you have a special memory or high quality photo you’d like to share with the Foundation, please send it to us at!



Salt Lake City Fisher House Photo by Quinn Kiger-Good



Ways to Give this Holiday Season As you begin to think about gifts this holiday season, here are a few ways to support military and Veterans' families:

TRIBUTE: This holiday season, you can make a gift in honor of your loved one and Fisher House will send an acknowledgement of your gift.

FREQUENT FLYER MILES: Donate your airline miles to help Fisher House provide airline tickets to wounded, injured and ill service members and their loved ones in support of their continued recovery process.

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CHARITABLE DONATION: You can make a donation in support of Fisher House Foundation via the Combined Federal Campaign! Fisher House Foundation CFC code 11453.

HOTEL POINTS: Donate your hotel reward points to help us provide hotel rooms to families of wounded, injured and ill service members when a Fisher House is not available.

PLANNED GIVING: Leave a lasting legacy supporting military and Veterans' families with a bequest to Fisher House Foundation.

SECURITIES: Fisher House accepts stocks and other securities including IRA distribution roll-overs.

To learn more please visit 10


MEET the Staff USE





Fisher House Foundation is comprised of many passionate and talented people. Each issue you’ll meet someone new who helps contribute to our mission of supporting our military, Veterans and their families.

Gillian Gonzalez Fundraising Coordinator I have been with the Foundation for four years, but my road here was filled with volunteering opportunities in both California and Maryland Fisher Houses. I was stationed at David Grant USAF Medical Center, Travis AFB when their first Fisher House was built. I volunteered at the dedication, never thinking I would end up at the Foundation all these years later. After my service in the Air Force, my husband was commissioned in the Navy, and I spent a large part of the next decade supporting his deployments with care packages and pictures of our two growing boys. I also learned to edge a lawn perfectly and how to cook almost as well as he does. I started to volunteer at the Fisher Houses at Naval Support Activity Bethesda while I was working on my master’s degree and even earned the Volunteer of the Year award for the Navy Fisher Houses! Then, when I heard the Foundation was hiring, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of such a great organization. I started working on the Hero Miles program and assisted with Warrior Games. Both of these programs leave me marveling at the generosity of the American public and the resilience of our wounded, injured and ill service members and their families. I am currently part of the Community Engagement team, where I am the fundraising coordinator for Proud Supporter events working with peer-to-peer fundraisers who wish to host events and golf tournaments to support the Foundation as well as celebrate a special event or set up a memorial page. I also work with Team Fisher House – a dream come true after the first time I rang a cowbell and cheered on our Champions for Military Families. Serving the military community, whether on active duty, as a spouse, a volunteer, or here at Fisher House Foundation, is a calling I am honored to be part of.





Military service members, Veterans and their families are supported by countless organizations who acknowledge their sacrifices. Here we feature a top-tier organization each issue.

WE SALUTE: Founded in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops’ mission is to honor, remember, respect and support all those who serve (and served) in the armed forces. They fulfill their mission by hosting charitable golf events throughout the country and then donating the funds raised to various organizations that provide services to military, Veterans and their families. Since its inception, Tee It Up for the Troops (TIUFTT) has donated over $6 million to military organizations. “We’re an organization that hosts golf events, 100 percent run by volunteers,” said Tim Wegscheid, president and executive director of Tee It Up for the Troops. “We inspire communities across the country to rally around our military.” “We’re unique in that most organizations are raising money and delivering a service,” Tim continued. “We’re a fundraising engine for organizations like Fisher House who support our mission and do the right thing. Our impact is felt through our partners. By supporting them, they are freed up to do what they do best: helping our Veterans' and military families to heal, transition, grow and thrive.” TIUFTT has a donations committee that vets and evaluates organizations and ensures stewardship. Their goal is to find groups who are highly rated, national in scope, and can help Veterans all across the country. After each event, TIUFTT donates 50 percent of funds back into the local community hosting the tournament. The other half comes back to their national organization, and they distribute funds to selected veteran service organizations. In addition to hosting tournaments and donating funds, TIUFTT uses these tournaments to help Veterans feel a part of their community, helping them to transition back into civilian life. “There are usually key companies and executives at these events who can help make connections,” Tim said. “We put Veterans into those foursomes to make connections and feel a part of their community. Hopefully this helps make things happen.” TIUFTT has not only supported Fisher House Foundation, it has supported Fisher Houses at the local level, as well by providing golf carts to these homes. The golf carts have made a difference to



families who may have difficulty walking, or seek protection from inclement weather. “We try to donate something tangible when we can,” Tim said. “It’s a direct need, and golf carts are wonderful for that. The notes we get from managers mean so much knowing we are helping to make these families comfortable.” For more information about Tee It Up for the Troops and their programs, visit

A Fingerprint

Love of

Story by Laura Welch Fisher House Guest and Volunteer

I was 32 weeks expecting baby number three, my first daughter. The doctors informed me that the baby was in distress and needed close care and monitoring. I was admitted to the hospital immediately and indefinitely. My husband and my two boys, then only ages five and three, made their way to the hospital cafeteria for Thanksgiving dinner – big changes from our original Thanksgiving plans. We lived 250 miles away from the Medical Center at Laughlin AFB. How could I afford to pay for hotels for my family for an extended period of time? How could I provide a Christmas for my children while away from home? The hospital staff recommended I call the Fisher House. My husband and children secured a room at the San Antonio Military Medical Center Fisher House. The house provided the necessities our family needed, as well as the comfort and luxuries we were not expecting. The house was warm and well designed. My children had access to a playground, toys, movies, and books. Most afternoons and evenings, warm meals were provided by volunteers.

by gracious donations from the community. It brought me to tears. While at the Fisher House I became acquainted with service men and women experiencing all varieties of war wounds. I cooked breakfast alongside wounded soldiers. I would visit with their families and listen to their stories. Many were missing limbs and facing major life changes at young ages. This was very humbling to me. It changed me. Our daughter was born two days before Christmas. We were able to bring Naomi home to the Fisher House on Christmas Day. The Fisher House became our home away from home, our home for the holidays and our home for hope, love, courage, and gratitude. I now volunteer at the Salt Lake City Fisher House. I want to be part of the Fisher House team of volunteers that left such an imprint on my heart. The Fisher House Foundation is a gift to the military community. The Fisher House provides more than lodging. It provides love, hope, healing and a home that stays with you for the rest of your life.

During our stay at the Fisher House, we graciously experienced holiday activities, entertainment and wonderful meals. Volunteers were busy cleaning, caring and decorating the halls for the holidays. All my worries about providing a Christmas for my young children disappeared when a volunteer took me to a room of toys provided



FLYING LOVED ONES TO WARRIOR GAMES This year’s Warrior Games took place at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. In addition to providing funding for the Warrior Games Family Program, Fisher House’s Hero Miles program provided 224 flights to bring loved ones to the games. Fisher House is often present during a medical crisis, and we are honored to help bring families together during the triumphs as well.

SPECIAL THANKS Dear Fisher House Foundation, On behalf of my entire family I would like to thank you sincerely for the opportunity to fly myself and our three children to Washington, DC to visit my husband using the Hero Miles program. Ever since my husband returned from deployment in 2010 we have noticed a stark difference in the way my husband/Daddy acts. War changes a person, and there is nothing that can be done to undo what has been seen on the battlefield. My husband has bottled his memories up inside which, along with injuries suffered, has caused many sleepless nights and regular instances of migraines. My husband today is not the husband I married nearly 17 years ago, but yet I love him more now because of the sacrifices he has made to his family to fight for the country he loves and wants to protect. When the opportunity arose for him to visit the Walter Reed Medical Center and have himself analyzed through a battery of tests, he and I thought this would be an important trip that was too valuable to ignore. That said, the opportunity that the Fisher House has provided through the Hero Miles program for our family to fly to Bethesda and partake in the treatment plan is one that I did not imagine possible. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing all five of us to heal as a family this month. Your generosity is warmly appreciated, and please know our family will be paying this forward. Sincerely,



TEAM FISHER HOUSE Kevin Allen is one of Team Fisher House’s dedicated Air Force Marathon alumni, and was kind enough to send Fisher House Foundation a note of thanks… Being a part of this team has been, by far, one of the best experiences I've ever had. I'm very happy to help in any way I can and blessed with friends and family who support our efforts every year. What's the next milestone? $1,000? I want to get there first to clear the path for the team! Thanks for giving me something to look forward to each year...I absolutely love every Team Fisher House experience!

- Kevin DELTA AIR LINES’ 360 DEGREES OF SUPPORT FOR FISHER HOUSE Delta Air Lines has been a Corporate Champion with Team Fisher House for four straight years – donating to Fisher House at the corporate level, volunteering their time to support Team Fisher House’s Marine Corps Marathon team, and encouraging its millions of customers to donate their frequent flier miles to Fisher House’s Hero Miles program. Delta Air Lines is the true Champion for Military Families — contributing time, talent, and treasure to a cause they believe in! Help Delta Air Lines support Fisher House: Team Fisher House’s Corporate Champion program encourages companies of any size to GET INVOLVED with Team Fisher House by: • Making a company gift • Volunteering at a Team Fisher House event • Raising funds and/or awareness for the Foundation Find out how your company can GET INVOLVED to show its support of Fisher House Foundation and the military families we support — go to THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016



The Gross and Reiff Families




Hospital Story by Kerri Childress Photos by Craig Orsini



Photo at left: Daniel Reiff fondly remembers his friendship with Frank Gross (Gross family photo at lower right). Above left to right: Frankies’ Patriot BBQ and Craig Gross in the kitchen. Daniel and his mother at the Fisher House. Daniel signing Frank Gross’ yearbook. Second row: Toni Gross and Daniel enjoy reminiscing about Daniel’s high school days with Frankie. Toni Gross helping out as a volunteer at the Tampa VA Fisher House. Lannay Reiff, Daniels’ mom, joins hands in prayer with Toni Gross and Daniel. Below: Portrait of Frankie Gross that hangs in his father’s restaurant.

It is dinner time and Craig Gross is serving his fabulous BBQ to the families at the Tampa VA Fisher House. Lannay Reiff is there with her son, Air Force Veteran Daniel Reiff, who was very seriously injured in a motorcycle accident five months before, losing a leg, suffering multiple bone fractures and incurring a serious traumatic brain injury. It was his first trip off the hospital floor. Daniel overhears that the BBQ he’s eating came from a place called Frankie’s and that it was named after the owner’s son who was killed in Afghanistan. With much agitation, Daniel insists his mom go into the kitchen and ask about Frankie’s last name. His mother returns and says, “His last name was Gross.”

It was the first time since his injury that Daniel’s mom realized that her son’s longterm memory was still there.

Toni and Craig, Frankie’s parents, were asked to come to Dover Air Force Base to be part of what the military calls “the dignified transfer of remains.” Toni remembers it like a “beautiful ballet that touched her heart.” Her daughter was there. Her sister and brother-in-law also came. All of them stayed at the new Fisher House at Dover.

Both boys had been athletes and good students; both had joined the military. Now, here they were, reunited in spirit at dinner in a Fisher House.

It was the first time since his injury that Daniel’s mom realized that her son’s long-term memory was still there.

A few weeks later, Toni brought Frankie’s year book to the Fisher House where she and Daniel reminisced about experiences the two boys had shared and people they both knew. She gave Daniel a dog tag with a picture of Frank on it.

Some years later, to overcome the grief For Daniel, this was inspiration to continue of losing his son, Craig quit his job and getting better. He had to. For Frankie. opened the BBQ restaurant called “Frankie’s Patriot BBQ,” filled with military and Veteran keepsakes, the most important of which were photos of Frankie in uniform. Additionally, Frankie’s BBQ provided Frank Gross was in Afghanistan at a dinners at the Tampa Fisher House where forward operating base when an improvised Toni had been volunteering for four years, explosive device (IED) exploded under his as a way to give back. vehicle. He died July 16, 2011. He was 25.

Back to the dinner. It turned out Daniel and Frankie had been good friends at a small Christian High School in Tampa. They even spent the night at each other’s homes. As this resonated with all concerned, it brought fresh tears.

Toni Gross, who volunteers at the Tampa VA Fisher House, and Lannay Reiff, mother of Daniel Reiff, have become great friends since they met at the Fisher House.



Golfing for Good Partners with Fisher House Foundation Nearly 7,500 golfers on roughly 130 paralyzed in an accident while in the Navy. courses across the nation, played in “It was simply a life-saver for me, my boys tournaments on August 1, as part of the and especially my husband,” she said to World’s Largest Golf Outing. What makes more than 120 golfers at the St. John’s Golf it even more amazing is that they were Club in St. Augustine, FL. playing for Fisher House Foundation. From dunk tanks to golf ball cannons, “The World’s Largest Golf Outing has from pay the pro to chip a ball into a developed into a national movement kiddie pool, the competitions were laced of golfing for good,” said Peter Hill, with fun and spirits were high. chairman and CEO of Billy Casper Golf, which founded the event in 2011. “It Be sure to mark your calendars for next is remarkable to see what golfers can year’s World’s Largest Golf Outing. The accomplish when they convene for a day biggest one-day celebration in golf and charity will be back next August at a golf of competition, camaraderie and charity.” course near you. To learn more about this Fisher House representatives, including powerful event and how to get involved managers and community groups, spread visit out throughout the states to either play or represent the Foundation. Fisher House guest like Henry and Lusanda Sawyer, joined the events to help spread the word about what Fisher House is and who we serve. “I just can’t imagine what our lives would have been like without Fisher House,” said Lusanda Sawyer, who was pregnant with their third child when her husband was





Photos by Kerri Childress and Ashley Estill

Fisher House Foundation was proud to be a sponsor of the are over. Military or not, anyone who experiences the Games Invictus Games Orlando 2016, May 8-12 at ESPN Wide World will walk away changed. of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort— the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, ill and “I was so moved by the Games,” said Ken Fisher. “Not only were the families inspired and swept away by the excitement, but it injured military personnel and Veterans. was a chance to connect to other countries’ warriors and families. “We see this as a continuation of our mission of building ‘homes One of the competitors who won gold, silver and bronze medals away from home’ for our military and Veterans’ families,” said in the first Invictus Games in London said it perfectly, ‘We are Ken Fisher, Chairman & CEO of Fisher House Foundation, and all fighting the same battle, and that battle is with ourselves—we Chairman & CEO of Invictus Games Orlando 2016. “These are all winners.’” Games celebrated the military family as never before. We celebrated their role in recovery and witnessed the role sports Our lives are made up of journeys, of roads travelled, of have played in that long and difficult rehabilitation process.” The Games featured 500 athletes from 14 nations: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the US. Sports such as track and field, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, swimming and many more challenge the competitors to adapt to a “new normal” long after the Games

people we meet. Journeys of triumph and tragedy, of courage and selflessness. Some of us have had many journeys, traveled many roads, some just a few. But what we all have in common is that the journeys we share with others — our family, our friends, even strangers – can be the richest and the most memorable. — Ken Fisher at Opening Ceremonies THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016


MEET THE ATHLETES WHO WERE TOUCHED BY FISHER HOUSE Air Force Technical Sergeant, Lara Mastel Won two SILVER medals in Track and Field “I spent some of my darkest hours in a Fisher House going through many rounds of chemotherapy after I had a double mastectomy. Fisher House was home for me from May– September 2010, and not only me, but my mom and dad, when we had no place else to go. I was really weak and couldn’t travel anywhere to get food. To have the kitchen nearby where mom could fix me something I liked and could eat was incredibly helpful. I am forever grateful to Fisher House. Forever grateful.”

Electricians Mate 4, (Ret.) Henry Sawyer Won the GOLD in Wheelchair Rugby “I was initially paralyzed from the neck down from an athletic injury while on active duty in 2010. At the time, we had two young boys and my wife, Lusanda, was pregnant with our third. Our lives changed in an instant, and they have never been the same since. Having the Fisher House at Tampa, where the family lived for four months, was a lifesaver. In fact, the first four months of our third son’s life were in a Fisher House. The Fisher House has been there for us through all the tough times and through the happy times, too.”

Air Force Pilot, Christy Wise Competed in Swimming and Track and Field “I’m stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, GA, as a C130 pilot. I lost my right leg above the knee in a water accident when a boat ran over me about a year ago. My fiancé saved my life by putting a tourniquet on my leg, and I was transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio for treatment. My entire family, at one time or another, stayed at the BAMC Fisher House—mom, dad, my brother with his two kids and my twin sister. I always had an entourage with me. The medical staff would laugh when they saw me coming, because there was always family or friends with me. All that was possible because of the Fisher House and Hero Miles. I actually lived at the Fisher House with my twin sister. It was so wonderful, they allowed her to finish her med school training at BAMC so she could be close to me through this very difficult time.”



National Guardsman Staff Sergeant, Michael Kacer Won the GOLD and two SILVER in Track and Field “I lost my left arm in 2008 while deployed in Afghanistan. When I got back to the US, they sent me to Walter Reed in Washington, DC, for treatment and rehabilitation. During the many weeks and months I was there, my family stayed in the Fisher House. But beyond just having the Fisher House to stay in, Fisher House Foundation used Hero Miles to fly my family to the Warrior Games and to watch me compete in the first Invictus Games. My fondest memory is my mom seeing me compete and finally understanding it isn’t about winning, but competing and leaving everything out there for all to be motivated and inspired by.”

Army Sergeant, Manuchar Nakishashvili From the Country of Georgia

Won a Bronze in Sitting Volleyball “I was serving with American troops in Afghanistan in 2012, when an IED exploded and I lost my left leg below the knee. Because Georgia doesn’t have the most up-to-date prosthetics, Fisher House flew me to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for rehabilitation. I actually lived in a Fisher House there for more than seven months. It was the nicest home I had ever had and I never wanted to leave.”

Phillip Thompson and Paul Warren From Australia

Paul, Dave Coker (president of Fisher House Foundation) and Phillip

“Both Paul and I were injured in Afghanistan in 2009 by IED explosions. Paul lost his right leg above the knee, and like me suffers with PTSD. I have a traumatic brain injury and complete hearing loss on the right side. Paul’s family, because he was at Landstuhl for such a long time, stayed at a Fisher House and are thankful to this day for that privilege. Both of us now run a nonprofit that helps wounded, injured or ill service members get back on their feet.”



BECOMING INVICTUS The 2016 Invictus Games meant many things to many people, but for Steve Simmons it meant a chance for a new life. Below, in his own words, Steve describes his story from being an active duty sailor to a paraplegic in despair to a medal-winning athlete. During this journey, he, his wife and three children stayed at the Fisher House at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as he went through arduous tests with frustrating results. Story by Steve Simmons

What do you do when you face a life changing illness, injury or wound? What thoughts go through your mind when you hear doctors tell you they have no idea why this happened to you? In 2011, I was on a scheduled military deployment, my Navy career was soaring, I had just commissioned the year before after spending the previous 12 years enlisted. In September that year my life changed; my career and life were hanging in the balance. I began to experience health problems that consisted of blacking out, unexplained weight loss, uncontrollable fevers, night sweats, tremors, and swollen lymph nodes. During my second hospitalization, muscles began to fail, starting in the legs and ascending. As the months turned into years, I was medically retired from the Navy and a paraplegic. The struggles seemed to continue; my darkest days were upon us. By the latter part of 2014, I had sunk into a state of depression that was slowly destroying me and my family. I was then given an ultimatum by my wife to either get busy living or get busy dying, but I had to choose one. That was a year and a half ago, and I’m still here…I have a greater purpose! In January 2015, I attended my first adaptive sports camp and have been addicted ever since. I completed my first 5K in a race chair in February and participated in Team Navy Trials in March. In April, I hand-cycled the Salt Lake City Marathon, my first marathon ever; later that month, I was selected to represent Team Navy at the 2015 Warrior Games. In a short period of time, I went from not living, failing myself and my family, to competing at the Warrior Games and winning five gold medals and one silver medal, making my family life stronger than ever. Each of these was was a feat I did not know could be possible. First, none of this would be possible without my wife; she has been the rock and foundation in our relationship even through the toughest of times. Times that brought on the darkest of my days and made me question my purpose in life. Second, family that extends beyond the ties of blood; family that lifts you up when you are down, encourages you to push a little further or a little harder and dig a little deeper. Family that forces you to look in the mirror, face the truth, and seek the inner drive and passion once more.



May 8, 2016, the Invictus Games Orlando were officially underway, and I was going to compete having had rotator cuff surgery six months before. I was determined to compete—this was the pinnacle of military adaptive sports. The following four days would test athletes from around world. Athletes would take to the field, court, range, pool, road, and track to display their hearts, their drive, and their unconquerable souls! Our fates were not predetermined by what set each of us on this course; our wounds, injuries or illnesses would not determine the outcome of these games. Only the true spirit of Invictus would determine our fate! We do not push ourselves beyond the possible for simple selfgratification but to display hope and instill pride and passion in those who may have lost their way. The competition is more than a medal; it is about building a team, a friendship, or a family. It is about encouragement. It is the strength to fight through adversity, get ready to start and make it the finish. The spirit of the Invictus Games reaches beyond the banners of the competitors. The moment you don the Invictus uniform, you become more than an athlete or competitor; you become a beacon to show the world more is possible. I do not know what my future holds as the level of my injury continues to ascend. The one thing I do know for certain: I will continue to compete and train until I am no longer able. I became the master of my fate; I became the captain of my soul!

USA Invictus Team Member

Fisher House Foundation is privileged to have amazing leadership at each Fisher House location. Our managers do a wonderful job taking care of the families that call Fisher House a home away from home.

Lorie Southerland

Ft. Bragg Fisher House Story by Kerri Childress When walking into Lorie’s office, the first thing you see are photos of young men in uniform that are literally everywhere. “They are my boys,” says Lorie Southerland, manager of the Ft. Bragg Fisher House. One of them actually is a photo of her son, who was killed by a truck explosion in Iraq in 2007. “These guys and their families stayed at my Fisher House, and I know that if they were my children, I’d want someone to take care of them. So I do.” Lorie has been a Fisher House manager for more than five years, yet she is so much more than someone who checks families in and ensures that the home is run effectively. She is eager to give hugs, eager to close the door to her office and just listen and eager to go the extra mile even if it is on the weekend. “Life doesn’t just happen between Monday and Friday, 9-5,” Lorie said. “My husband is a saint and understands if I need to go in over the weekend, or stay late in the evening, it’s because someone needs my help.” Lorie’s passion for helping others didn’t just start when she became a Fisher House manager. Lorie was a firefighter for a number of years. “And I’m so proud of her,” said her husband Eric, who served in the Air Force for 22 years and currently is the local deputy fire chief. “She had to give it up because of a back injury. However,

she came back on the fire department around Heidi and Dan Jenkins have been staying 2003 to be the Fire & Life Safety Coordinator. at the Fisher House off and on for more She was on the state-level council for fire safety than three years while Dan deals with and is known around the state for the work she prostate cancer from Agent Orange exposure did there, and she still keeps up with some of in Vietnam. her fire safety friends.” It was this job she left to work for Fisher House. “Lorie is the heart and soul of the Fisher House,” said Heidi. “I know that working here has Lorie never fails to tell people that the best part helped her heal from the terrible loss of her of her job is that she gets to hug a soldier every son, but through that healing she heals others. day. But there is so much more to know. Lorie Lorie is like the sun — she just radiates Fisher also is an Air Force Veteran, having served as House out to all those who need it.” an Aircrew Life Support Specialist. She was a Civil War reenactor. She is a founding member “You know, these men and women who serve of the Dogwood Chapter of the American Gold are trying to make life better for all of us,” Lorie Star Mothers added. “I guess that’s what I try to do, too. ( A G M S ) . I really want to make life better for others.” She is a past d e p a r t m e n t And by all accounts, she certainly does. president Fisher House Foundation thanks Lorie and national and all of our Fisher House managers who chaplain for take exceptional care of our military and AGSM. She has Veterans’ families. volunteered with the Marine Corps League, Rolling Thunder Chapter IV, VFW, American Legion, Combat Vet Motorcycle Club, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Red Cross, Wreaths Across America, Toys for Tots, and before she became the manager, she volunteered at the Ft. Bragg Fisher House. The new Ft. Bragg Fisher House, dedicated in June this year, is her primary focus — or to be more accurate, the families that stay there. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016


HOUSE ROUND-UP The Patriot always loves to check in and see what our Fisher Houses have been up to. Here we outline highlights from houses around the world. ALASKA




Elmendorf AFB, AK

Camp Pendleton, CA

The Alaska Fisher House staff assisted frequent guest, Ken Bylo, to receive a new service dog for free when his previous service dog and best friend of 15 years passed away. This is a true example of the love we have for our Vets.

Fisher House Camp Pendleton celebrated its one year anniversary on May 16th, 2016. To mark the first year of service to the military community, Brig. Gen. Edward Banta, the base's commanding general, and his wife, Molly Banta, joined employee volunteers from United Healthcare to assemble 300 personal care kits that will be used by families staying at the house in the future. In addition, close to 100 local supporters also gathered to celebrate this remarkable event.

VA GREATER LOS ANGELES HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Los Angeles, CA “You never know when someone will come into your life and completely understand just how you feel,” exclaimed one of the Los Angeles Fisher House residents. This guest recently lost a son and now is facing a challenge with cancer. The family quickly discovered another family who had lost a daughter and parent, and was now also dealing with cancer. This has been such a comfort as they each work through their daily trials. This is typical at the Fisher House: families coming together and becoming their own support system. Many have found this experience to be remarkably comforting and amazing to witness. Many thanks to all who come together to allow it to happen. ARIZONA

S  OUTHERN ARIZONA VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Tucson, AZ The Arizona Fisher House would like to thank one of their amazing volunteers, who has been working at the Fisher House since before it opened. Roger Bedell developed a database that would ensure a smooth registration and check in for the home’s special guests. Roger spends over 35 hours a week at the Arizona Fisher House. In addition to his time at the house, Roger is also an Elks member, Lodge 385, and works with his lodge to get supplies donated for the home. Thank you, Roger!



HEALING SPACE AT WALTER REED Fisher House Foundation recently helped renovate and dedicate a “Healing Space” for staff at Murtha Cancer Center, part of the campus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The caring staff who provide healing to terminally ill deserve this tranquil space for all they do! Before




DAVID GRANT USAF MEDICAL CENTER Travis AFB, CA Travis Fisher House was honored to have Hana Finn from Hollywood, FL, as a guest during her husband’s illness. She has a great passion for gardening, so she volunteered many hours to weed and beautify the garden in front of Travis Fisher House. When the staff protested that she was working too hard and too late into the night, she said gardening was a great stress reliever for her and helped to keep her mind off her husband’s terminal illness. Her kindness and strength of spirit through such a heartbreaking time touched the hearts of the other guests and house staff.

The Gainesville VA and the Gainesville Fisher House Foundation worked together for a wonderful event commemorating Memorial Day and the ribbon cutting event for the ‘Walk of Courage’. The Walk of Courage is the path adjacent to the Fisher House that contains memorial bricks and pavers honoring special loved ones or those who have served. The event was held in the Fisher House parking lot, followed by an open house at the Fisher House with hotdogs grilled by Trader Joe’s. Hundreds of VA employees and people from the community joined together for this wonderful event. Funds from the bricks and pavers will go to an endowment for the Gainesville Fisher House to continue to support future needs.


WASHINGTON DC VA MEDICAL CENTER Washington, DC The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 U.S. Team Captain Will Reynolds presented the Invictus Games flag before it flew over the games in Orlando to Stacey Childs, DC VA Fisher House Manager, and Kerri Childress, Vice President of Communications, Fisher House Foundation. Symbolic of the competitors’ journeys to the Games, the flag made several stops across the U.S. including New York City, Dallas and finally Washington, DC.

JAMES A. HALEY VETERANS’ HOSPITAL Tampa, FL “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!” When the Tampa Fisher House received a wonderful donation of a “Little Free Library” from Laura Jolly, this quote may well have been part of what launched the lovely project. Mrs. Jolly and her husband, Congressman David Jolly, hand-painted an adorable replica of an old-fashioned schoolhouse in patriotic red, white and blue colors and then arranged for it be filled with an assortment of children’s books. One of Tampa’s youngest guests, Henley Gomez, was a girl on a mission when she saw the library being stocked. She came out of her stroller and made a bee-line for the library, claiming her first book and clutching it to her chest. We have no doubt the book found its way to the bedside of her hospitalized daddy, where hopefully she and daddy both enjoyed quality time sharing the story with each other.








Miami, FL

Fort Gordon, GA

West Roxbury, MA

For the fourth year in a row, the Miami VAHS Fisher House has accepted a generous donation of prepared foods, snacks, beverages and personal items from GSA food distributor Dunham & Smith. The Miami VA Fisher House staff traveled to Fort Lauderdale to load a truck with pallets of items donated after Dunham & Smith’s annual sales meeting. These snacks and drinks are special treats for the Fisher House guests, making their stay even more comforting and home-like. The total donation helps stock the kitchen for months.

To commemorate Memorial Day weekend, the team from United Rentals (Store L68) provided a traditional Southern meal for all the families staying at Fort Gordon Fisher House. United Rentals volunteers have been supporting Fisher Houses all across the country with manpower, donated equipment, and the comforts of home.

Maureen McDonnell is known as the “Irish Bread Lady.” She has been baking bread nearly every month for the families staying at the Boston House since it opened in July 2010. Maureen volunteered to bake as part of her St. Theresa’s Church outreach committee. “Everyone can do a little something to help the families at the house. I can bake bread,” she said. What she did not expect was to receive a heartfelt thank you note from one of our returning guests this week when she dropped off her warmfrom-the-oven bread: “Dear Maureen, Thank you for your great tasting Irish soda bread. I felt I was home. I’ve stayed here before while my husband underwent spinal surgery. I couldn’t eat much for three very long weeks. I lived on your bread, which settled my nerves and my stomach. It was great, and so are you for your thoughtfulness…”

WEST PALM BEACH VA MEDICAL CENTER West Palm Beach, FL The Honda Classic Patriots Outpost collected donations for the Fisher House during the Honda Classic Golf Tournament. Pratt Whitney matched those donations and presented the West Palm Beach Fisher House with two checks. Thank you for your support.


MALCOLM GROW MEDICAL CENTER Andrews AFB, MD MSgt Timothy Fetz, USAF Retired, visits the Fisher House Memorial Garden at Joint Base Andrews where he can be seen taking a photo of the memorial brick for his late wife, Michele Fetz, who passed away in May 2013. Tim lives in Warner Robbins, GA, but was in the DC area for training. He paid a visit to Fisher House which was home to the Fetz family while Michele was ill. The brick reads "In Honor of our Blessed Angel — Michele Fetz."




MINNEAPOLIS VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Minneapolis, MN In May, a presentation of $3,206 was made to Minneapolis Fisher House by the Minnesota Highway Patrol Cadets of the 57th Academy. During their training they managed to have a fundraiser for local charities, and a portion of the funds raised were donated to the Minneapolis Fisher House.


VA NORTH TEXAS HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Dallas, TX Employees from Deloitte conducted an annual landscaping project at the Dallas Fisher House. The group also hosted a luncheon for Fisher House families. Thank you for your hard work!



STRATTON VA MEDICAL CENTER Albany, NY The Albany Fisher House has benefited greatly over recent months from several groups who have donated time and resources to help support our mission. Employees from Deloitte, Janssen, Walmart and GameStop have led the charge by assisting with garden refurbishments, meals, cleaning, event support and visiting with our families. In addition to their hard work, these generous groups also provided materials to get the job done. Throughout this surge in activity, Eagle Scout candidate Martino An (pictured) was hard at work building a new center structure for our serenity garden. Martino, his father Seungwon, other family members and friends all pitched in to support this endeavor. Thank you to all these groups, as well as all others, who continue to give in so many ways.


CAMP LEJEUNE NAVAL HOSPITAL Camp Lejeune, NC The local chapter of the Legacy Vet Motorcycle Club hosted the Second Annual Fisher House Bike Run in June. Members of the Legacy Vet Motorcycle Club are descendants of military Veterans and often military Veterans themselves. The group not only hosted the second bike run but also has volunteered around the Fisher House.

The Houston Fisher House has been the recipient of great support this year. One group in particular, however, is the Patriot Employee Network (PEN) portion of Conoco-Philips. Not only have they provided the Fisher Houses with much needed storage – two large conex units – but also provided numerous fajitastyle meals for guests. Each time these dedicated employees, many of whom are Veterans themselves, come and talk to Fisher House guests. Thank you for your continued contributions.

FISHER HOUSE MANAGERS Fisher House Managers from across the country and Europe gathered for training in Minneapolis, along with touring the Minneapolis homes. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016






Ft. Belvoir, VA

Seattle, WA

The members of the Epiphany Lutheran Church in Alexandria, VA, have donated fresh flowers to the Fort Belvoir Fisher House on a weekly basis for over two years. All through the calendar year the bright colors can be seen throughout the home and are gentle reminders of the thoughts and prayers that are gifted to our families from not just our military community but also from the civilian community that surrounds Fisher House.

VA Puget Sound Fisher House welcomed their 5100th guest! To properly celebrate, Sandra Horst received the royal treatment including roses, cake and a crown. Despite being very surprised, she was a great sport. Andra has stayed at the Puget Sound Fisher House several times over the years, and it was a delight to have one of their “frequent fliers” receive this honor.



NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER, PORTSMOUTH Portsmouth, VA Ringling Bros. clowns presented a donation to the Portsmouth Fisher House. Their visit was such a joyous occasion for a room full of kids, parents and Fisher House staff. Thank you for the support.




LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER Landstuhl, DE Service Credit Union presented a generous donation to help military families at the Landstuhl Fisher House. The donation will go toward living expenses of military families while staying at the Fisher House. Service Credit Union has been a longtime contributor to the Fisher House. Thank you for the support.

Since opening in April 2013, Fisher House UK has provided the equivalent of over 11,000 nights of accommodation for military families. The house stands on the same site as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, home to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and is the primary receiving hospital for UK military personnel when they are injured or ill. For most, it is the serving member of the British Armed Forces who is the patient, but sometimes, it can be the military personnel staying in Fisher House UK whilst their family member is being treated. That’s what happened for Elisabeth Burns, a Royal Air Force Emergency Nurse Specialist, who was able to stay in Fisher House UK when her mother, Janice, received medical treatment following a heart attack. Elisabeth said: “The team at Fisher House were there for me right from the start, supporting both my mum and me… I can’t emphasise enough how important Fisher House is to the families, in terms of the support they provide and the closeness of its proximity to the hospital. Whilst it is not a situation you would ever choose to be in, the house certainly provided me with the best place for me to be able to look after my mum.”



Milwaukee, W I

Photos by Ashley Estill

MILWAUKEE, WI On April 23, the first Fisher House in Wisconsin was dedicated at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee. The 16-suite Fisher House will serve military and Veterans' families in the community for years to come. Many thanks to the extraordinary efforts made by the local community group, Fisher House Wisconsin, and the numerous supporters who helped to make this Fisher House a reality.

gg, NC Fort Bra

kee, WI u a lw i M

FORT BRAGG, NC Ft. Bragg has a new Fisher House that can serve up to 11 families and includes a play room. It replaces the smaller original one built in 1993. “As the needs of military families change and grow, the need for new and updated Fisher Houses continues,” said Dave Coker, president of Fisher House Foundation.

Fort B ragg, N


Hearts in the Community Woolies for Warriors WOOLIES FOR WARRIOR S

Seventh grader Amelia Huddleston is committed not only to being active in the Loudon County 4-H but using the opportunity to better the lives of others. This year she collected funds and spread awareness for Fisher House by raising a sheep and auctioning it off at the Loudon County Fair. We are honored and grateful to have such wonderful support. Thank you Amelia!

Lacrosse for a Cause Chantilly Youth Association (CYA) and Southwestern Youth Association (SYA) joined forces to host “Lax for a Cause" lacrosse marathon and fundraiser. The eight-hour lacrosse marathon featured over 20 teams with players as young. as five! They raised an amazing $15,150.

Ladies Charity Skeet Classic Fisher House Foundation was selected again in 2016 to be the beneficiary of the Ladies Charity Skeet Classic at the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club. This year’s event raised $22,000, increasing their grand total to an impressive $82,300 in only four years! Thank you for hosting this annual event — your support is greatly appreciated. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 2 • 2016


THE RACE IS ON First Ever Pastor-Led Team at the Indianapolis 500 Raises Funds for Fisher House Foundation

Story by Claire Fryvolent

This past spring, Pastor Will Marotti’s team raced in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis (Indy) 500 to raise money for Fisher House Foundation. Will’s love for professional racing started in childhood when his dad took him to a half-midget race track in his hometown of Wallingford, Connecticut. From there, his fascination for racing grew to passion as his father took him to larger professional tracks. Will later attended a professional driver school and did well, but he lacked the resources to pursue it as his career. Despite this setback, Will remained a loyal fan. Though he believed his dream of being a professional racecar driver had been put on the shelf forever, he could not yet see the twists and turns life—and God—would put in his path. Will has been a pastor for 20 years. In 1999, he helped start a church with his wife and three others in his living room. He is now a pastor of the church, which has grown from a small space with 5 members to a 56-acre property with a congregation of about 1,400. In 2015, Will’s church was hosting an event for high school students to introduce them to trade jobs. There, Will met a vendor who had been blinded in a shop accident. Yet, Will learned, this man owned a successful professional drag race team and was the head mechanic. As Will listened to this man’s story, he thought, “If God could do this for him, why couldn’t he do this for me?”

During his journey, Will knew he wanted to use his success to give back to charity. He has met many Veterans throughout his ministry, inspiring his nickname the “Veteran magnet,” and is now asking fans to raise money for Fisher House Foundation. “I admire the work that Fisher House Foundation does for service members, Veterans and their families,” Will said. “I wanted to use my newfound platform at the Indy500 to show my support for those who give so much for our country as well as a leading foundation that supports them.” To raise the money, Marotti Racing is hosting a first-ever concert at the Dallara Factory, where Indy cars are manufactured, and a silent auction. All proceeds will go to Fisher House Foundation. Will has been married for 28 years, and together they have two children—a daughter, who is graduating from Quinnipiac University with a degree in nursing, and a son with Down Syndrome who has participated in the Special Olympics.

Later that year, at an Indy 500 party, Will asked people for their “Sometimes God closes doors and you have to recognize what opinions on him owning a racing team. The responses went God’s will is for your life,” said Will. “The fact that we even made from “Impossible!” and “You’re crazy!” to “Why not you?” This it at all is hard to believe. But God has been gracious to us, and inspired Will to pursue his dream. In the summer of 2015, he this is quite literally a dream come true.” started putting a team together and recruiting sponsors. A year later, he qualified for the Indy500.





Eglin AFB, FL

Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Inc. In June, a volunteer appreciation and open house was held at the Eglin Fisher House to honor 250 volunteers who donated 1100 volunteer hours since April 16, raising over $48,000 from nine events. The two largest donations came from Baytowne Wharf, as part of the 31st Annual Sandestin Wine Festival with a generous $25,000, and the Destin Woman’s Club donating $9,000 from their Heart And Sole Fashion Show. Volunteers were treated to music, food, fun and a tour of the lovely home by house manager, Ron Gribble. Beach Community Bank provided the grill and celebrity chefs, including founding board members Trec Chedister and Tony Hughes, the Honorable Mike Anderson, Mayor of Fort Walton Beach, Lieutenant General USAF Retired Gordon Fornell and his wife Bobbie, along with Brooke McLean, President & CEO of the Air Force Enlisted Village, who served delicious burgers and dogs. The Eglin community is grateful for all the community partners and volunteers.

Southern California Fisher House Fisher House Southern California is proud to announce it has raised its initial fundraising goal of $3 million to build a Fisher House on the campus of the Long Beach VA Medical Center. Recent grants from Los Angeles County, the California Veterans Charity Fund, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and Sue L. Nguyen’s family made the difference. “The community of Long Beach and the much larger Southern California community have shown they take care of their Veterans,” board chair Steven Kuykendall said. “Whether the donation was $20 or $20,000, we were overwhelmed by the generosity. There’s a deep well of support for Veterans in this community. The home will be dedicated October 19.

Dayton, OH

Long Beach, CA

Fisher Nightingale Houses, Inc. With enthusiastic support from the local softball community and Vietnam Veterans of America, Miami Valley Chapter 97, the Fisher Houses at Wright-Patterson AFB were the primary benefactor of a fundraiser featuring the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST). The WWAST played two exhibition games against all-star teams from local military and 1st Responders and against members of the Dayton Legends Softball Club to raise funds for the future Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center. The WWAST toured the site of the projected new Fisher House, and the local community came out to the exhibition games, played at Wright State University, to make additional donations.





RANGE Fisher House Foundation is building on its commitment to help military families

West Haven, CT Orlando VA Medical Center

Orlando, FL James A. Haley Veterans Hospital

Tampa, FL (second house)

Albuquerque, NM Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Charleston, SC Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Houston, TX (third house)

Washington DC VA Medical Center 50 Irving St. NW Washington, D.C. 20422 (202) 745-2482 Manager: Stacey Childs


VA Connecticut Healthcare System

New Mexico Health Care System

JBER Hospital 4943 Zeamer Ave. 673 MDSS/SGS/FH Elmendorf AFB, AK 99506 (907) 222-1673 Manager: Jenny Hall

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System 3601 S. 6th Avenue (9-135) Tucson, AZ 85723 (520) 838-3680 Manager: Kelly Laurich

under construction:

Keesler AFB, MS (second house)



The following projects are currently in design or

Keesler Medical Center


David Grant USAF Medical Center I, II 100 Bodin Circle Travis AFB, CA 94535-1804 (707) 423-7550 fax: (707) 423-7552 Manager: Charlene Hall VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (10AF) Bldg 523 Los Angeles, CA 90073 (310) 268-4457 fax: (310) 268-3499 Manager: Sharon Hudson VA Palo Alto Health Care System 3801 Miranda Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94304 (650) 493-5000 x. 60384 fax: (650) 849-1269 Manager: Rajpreet Jandir Naval Medical Center San Diego I, II 34800 Bob Wilson Dr. Bldg 46 San Diego, CA 92134-5000 (619) 532-9055 fax: (619) 532-5216 Asst. Manager: Lori Erickson Naval Hospital Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Building 2014 San Jacinto Rd. Oceanside, CA 92058 (760) 763-5308 Manager: Kiana Bright VA Long Beach Healthcare System 5901 East 7th Street (FH) Long Beach, CA 90822 Manager: Lana Toenjes

COLORADO VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System 1954 Quentin St. Aurora, CO 80010 (303) 399-8020 x. 2049 fax: (303) 364-4882 Manager: Tessa Levy




Fisher House for Families of the Fallen 220 Lajes St. Dover AFB, DE 19902 (302) 677-5317 Manager: TSgt. Dorothy Whitfield

FLORIDA Bay Pines VA Healthcare System 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. Bay Pines, FL 33744 (727) 319-1350 fax: (727) 319-1106 Manager: Lana Toenjes Eglin Air Force Hospital 350 Boatner Rd. Eglin AFB, FL 32542 (850) 883-2865 Manager: Ron Gribble James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33612 (813) 910-3000 fax: (813) 910-3088 Manager: Paula Welenc Malcom Randall VA Hospital 1601 SW Archer Rd (11i) Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 376-1611 x. 4469 Manager: Tanya E. Fookes Miami VA Healthcare System 1201 NW 16th St. Miami, FL 33125 (305) 575-7260 fax: (305) 575-7261 Manager: Carolyn Soucy West Palm Beach VA Medical Center 7305 N. Military Trail-Route 136 W. Palm Beach, FL 33410 (561) 422-5554 fax: (561) 442-8793 Manager: Shelley Prickett North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System 1601 SW Archer Rd. Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 548-6492 Manager: Tanya Fookes

GEORGIA Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center One Freedom Way Augusta, GA 30904 (706) 729-5773 Manager: Anne Arnold Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fisher House Rd. - Bldg 280 Fort Gordon, GA 30905-5650 (706) 787-7100 fax: (706) 787-5106 Manager: Francisco Cruz

*Please direct all correspondence to the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher House, along with the specific house address. For any questions, please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location.





Tripler Army Medical Center I, II 315 Krukowski Rd. Honolulu, HI 96819 (808) 433-1291 x. 28 fax: (808) 433-3619 Manager: Anita Clingerman

VA St. Louis Health Care System 1 Jefferson Barracks Rd. St. Louis, MO 63125 (314) 652-4100 x. 66945 fax: (314) 894-6147 Manager: Vanniecia Brown

Tennessee Valley Healthcare System 3400 Lebanon Pike Murfreesboro, TN 37129 (615) 225-5758 Manager: Becky Wood

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital 9201 Woodbury Rd. Ft. Belvoir, VA 22060 (703) 805-5203 Manager: Roxannamaria Calderon



Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital 5000 S 5th Ave. Hines, IL 60141 (708) 202-7154 fax: (708) 202-7155 Manager: Holly Wright

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System 6900 N. Pecos Rd. North Las Vegas, NV 89086 (702) 224-6789 Manager: Cadie Andrew



Blanchfield Army Community Hospital 652 Joel Dr. Fort Campbell, KY 42223 (270) 798-8330 fax: (270) 798-8804 Manager: Wendy J. Carlston

Albany Stratton VA Medical Center 113 Holland Ave. Albany, NY 12208 (518) 626-6919 fax: (518) 626-5452 Manager: Michael Fitzpatrick



Malcolm Grow Clinics & Surgery Center 1076 West Perimeter Rd. Andrews AFB, MD 20762 (301) 981-1243 fax: (301) 981-7629 Manager: Janet Grampp

Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune 4 Recovery Way Camp Lejeune, NC 28547 (910) 450-3885 fax: (910) 450-3887 Manager: Josie Callahan

Womack Army Medical Center Walter Reed National Military Medical 3120 Loop Rd. Center I, II, III, IV, V Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000 24 Stokes Rd. (910) 432-1486 fax: (910) 432-3825 Bethesda, MD 20814-5002 Manager: Lorie Southerland (301) 295-5334 fax: (301) 295-5632 Manager: Michael Ybarra


Walter Reed – Forest Glen Annex 2460 Linden Ln. Bldg 173 Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301) 295-7374 x. 10 fax: (301) 295-8012 Manager: Maurice Borde

MASSACHUSETTS VA Boston Healthcare System 1400 VFW Pkwy. West Roxbury, MA 02132 (857) 203-4000 Manager: Elizabeth St. Pierre

MINNESOTA Minneapolis VA Health Care System I, II 1 Veterans Dr. Minneapolis, MN 55417 (612) 467-5602 fax: (612) 970-5864 Manager: Marge Oslund

MISSISSIPPI Keesler Medical Center 509 Fisher St. Keesler AFB, MS 39534-2599 (228) 377-8264 fax: (228) 377-7691 Manager: Larry Vetter

Cincinnati VA Medical Center 3200 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45220 (513) 475-6571 fax: (513) 487-6661 Manager: Karrie Hagan Wright-Patterson Medical Center I, II 417 Schlatter Dr. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433 (937) 257-0855 fax: (937) 656-2150 Manager: Karen Healea

OREGON VA Portland Health Care System 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 (513) 220-8262 x. 57685 Manager: Barbara Decoito

PENNSYLVANIA VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System University Drive C, Bldg 33 Pittsburgh, PA 15240 (412) 360-2030 fax: (937) 656-2150 Manager: Heather Frantz

TEXAS Brooke Army Medical Center I,II,III,IV San Antonio Military Medical Center 3623 George C. Beach Dr. Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234 (210) 916-6000 fax: (210) 916-6488 Manager: Inge Godfrey Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Bldg. 36015 Fisher Ln. Fort Hood, TX 78254 (254) 286-7927 fax: (254) 286-7929 Manager: Theresa Johnson Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center I, II 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX 77030 (713) 794-8095 fax: (713) 794-7194 Manager: Frank Kelley

Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center 1201 Broad Rock Blvd. Richmond, VA 23249 (804) 675-6639 fax: (804) 675-5979 Manager: Wayne Walker Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth 853 Fisher Dr. Bldg 287 Portsmouth, VA 23708 (757) 953-6889 fax: (757) 953-7174 Manager: Jill Thompson

WASHINGTON Madigan Army Medical Center I, II 9999 Wilson Ave. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433 (253) 964-9283 fax: (253) 968-3619 Manager: Jodi Land

VA North Texas Health Care System 4500 S. Lancaster Rd. Bldg 79 Dallas, TX 75216 (214) 857-2574 fax: (214) 462-4923 Manager: Lydia Henderson

VA Puget Sound Health Care System 1660 South Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 (206) 768-5353 fax: (206) 277-1415 Manager: Stephanie Toepp

South Texas Veterans Health Care System 7485 Wurzbach Road San Antonio, Texas 78229 (210) 617-5300 x. 16626 Manager: Erik Zielinski


Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center I, II, III San Antonio Military Medical Center 1445 Foster Ave. Bldg 3865 Lackland AFB, TX 78236 (210) 671-6037 fax: (210) 671-6020 Manager: Philip Harralson William Beaumont Army Medical Center Bldg 7360 Rodriguez St. El Paso, TX 79930 (915) 569-1860 fax: (915) 569-1862

UTAH VA Salt Lake City Health Care System 690 S. Valdez Dr. Salt Lake City, UT 84148 (801) 588-5900 Manager: Quinn Kiger-Good

Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center 5000 W. National Ave. Bldg 150 Milwaukee, WI 53295 (414) 384-2000 x. 44570 Manager: Jennifer Kiefer

GERMANY Landstuhl Regional Medical Center I, II CMR 402 Box 669 APO, AE 09180 011-49-6371-9464-7430 fax: 011-49-6371-866679 Manager: Vivian Wilson

UNITED KINGDOM Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Mindelsohn Way Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham B15 2TH 0121-472-6217 fax: 0121-4130-6897 Manager: Patrick Hogan



Fisher House Foundation, Inc. 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420 Rockville, MD 20850-5000

Because we

our heroes.

For more than 25 years, the Fisher House program has provided a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. These homes provide free temporary lodging to military and Veterans’ families so they can be close to their loved one during a medical crisis, allowing them to focus on what’s important — the healing process. Due to the generosity of people like you, Fisher House Foundation is able to build and help support the operation of more than 70 existing homes, the core of our mission. Additionally, our Hero Miles program assists with travel needs, and our scholarship program offers educational opportunities to military children and spouses. With your help, we will continue to meet the needs of our military community today, and long into the future. Show your love by making a donation to Fisher House. To learn more, please visit or call (888) 294-8560.

Fisher House Foundation

CFC Code: 11453

©2016 Fisher House Foundation Creative services donated by ds+f, Washington, DC | Photo courtesy of Craig Orsini.

The Patriot - Fisher House Foundation Magazine - Volume 7, Issue 2  
The Patriot - Fisher House Foundation Magazine - Volume 7, Issue 2