Page 1

2020 VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2

THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION, INC. TM

www.fisherhouse.org

Fisher House Flexes in the

Face of a Pandemic

COVER STORY (Featured on page 16) VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES HELP FAMILIES (Story featured on page 8)

ARMY PARENTS WELCOME TWINS 500 MILES FROM HOME (Story featured on page 3)

PORTALS CONNECT PATIENTS AND FAMILIES

(Story featured on page 6)


Contents Social Media Support

2

Active Duty Army Officers Welcome Twins Into NICU

3

Guest Family­Profile: The Sampson Family

4

A Family's Love — ­ Fisher House Launches New Program to Better Connect Families Face-to-Face Amidst COVID-19

6

Meet Noelle, a Scholarships for Military Children Grant Recipient

7

Fisher House Volunteer of the Year

8

Day in the Life 2020

10

Ways to Give This Holiday Season

11

A Life Well Lived

12

Fisher House Salutes

14

Meet the Staff

15

COVER STORY: VA Fisher Houses Opens Door to Healthcare Workers in COVID-19 Push 16 Community Groups in Action

18

Meet the Manager

19

Hearts in the Community

20

Letters to Fisher House Foundation

22

House Round Up

24

Hero Miles

29

VA Ann Arbor Fisher House Greets First Guest

30

Openings & Groundbreakings

31

Down Range

32

About Fisher House Foundation, Inc. Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room, and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since its inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $500 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles and funds to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members, as well as the Hotels for Heroes program, using donated hotel points and dollars to allow family members to stay without charge at hotels near medical centers. The Foundation also manages a grant program that helps other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses, and children of fallen and disabled veterans. Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Donations to Fisher House Foundation or individual Fisher Houses are tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.

Fisher House Program by the

Numbers

$500 Million Savings for families in lodging and transportation cost FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN AND CEO Kenneth Fisher PRESIDENT David A. Coker CHIEF OF STAFF Mary Considine EXECUTIVE EDITOR Michelle Baldanza MANAGING EDITOR David Nye LAYOUT AND ART DIRECTION Gifted Eye Designs giftedeyedesigns.com Address all correspondence to: The Patriot Fisher House Foundation 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 410 Rockville, MD 20852 Phone: (301) 294-8560 Fax: (301) 294-8562 Email: info@fisherhouse.org

10 Million Nights of lodging offered

400,000 Families served

90+ Fisher Houses in operation The statistics in this graphic reflect the Fisher House program’s impact since inception. At Fisher House Foundation, our magazine, much like the work we do, is about teamwork. The Patriot is created in-house by our communications staff. Our graphic designers at Gifted Eye Designs donate services toward the design of each issue, and our printing partners help ensure we are getting the best rates possible. The Patriot magazine is one of our best resources to educate audiences about the Foundation’s work, and we are proud of the product we create. We are grateful to provide this resource at a very minimal cost, thanks to the work of everyone involved. At Fisher House, we always strive to be good stewards of your donation to the Foundation.

www.fisherhouse.org Cover Photo: Cover Photo Illustration by Craig Orsini at orsinistudio.com.

Craig took photos of individual healthcare workers to make this composite image while practicing safe social distancing.


LETTER FROM KEN FISHER Dear Friends, 2020 has been an uncertain year and more than challenging. Yet, you have stood by us as we continue our mission of helping military members, veterans, and their families through their most uncertain times. In this issue of the Patriot, you will read about how staff and families adapted to deal with the COVID-19 crisis at the Foundation and across the network of the 90+ Fisher Houses. We are all so grateful for your unwavering support. This past spring, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Veterans Affairs made the decision to temporarily close some VA Fisher Houses as part of their policies restricting visitor access at medical centers. Since these houses were not being used, the VA asked if the houses could be offered to healthy staff during this medical crisis. Fisher House wanted to assist our brave healthcare workers during this trying time and quickly agreed. By July, most Fisher Houses had returned to their core mission as the medical centers re-opened to visitors. With so many VA hospitals restricting visitor access for safety, we worried about the isolation of veteran patients. The generous support we’ve received these last few months has provided Facebook Portal TV stations at medical centers so more patients can be with their families virtually while receiving care. Our staff has also coordinated with many Department of Defense Fisher Houses to purchase gift cards to replace meals typically prepared by dedicated volunteers. Fisher House Foundation’s mission is as important as ever. Since our last Patriot Magazine was published, we have continued to serve our nation’s military and grow the network of Fisher Houses across the country. Your ongoing efforts have opened a second house in Richmond, Virginia; expanded Fisher House locations across the heartland in Nebraska, Louisiana, and West Virginia; and allowed us to start construction in Kansas City, Missouri. For 30 years, we have believed that a family’s love is good medicine and remain resolute in our mission of taking care of military, veterans, and their loved ones. Thank you for helping our nation’s military heroes and their families. Sincerely,

Kenneth Fisher Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation @kenfisherfhf

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 watchdog organizations. Once again, in late 2019, Fisher House Foundation received an A+ from CharityWatch in its veterans and military category for the 16th year. Out of 176 nonprofits that CharityWatch tracks, only two received this distinctive A+ rating. Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation its coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management for the 15th consecutive year, a rating achieved by less than 1% of the charities in the country that it monitors. Additionally, we are proud to announce that the Foundation recently earned the 2020 Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

1


SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT FACEBOOK FEEDBACK www.facebook.com/fisherhouse We had the privilege of staying at one of the two Fisher Houses in Landstuhl, Germany when our son was wounded in Iraq over a decade ago. They are a refuge and an island of calm in a sea of chaos and stress when a loved one needs care. A worthwhile charity that gets too little notice for the work they do!!” — Carla Meyer Lois “Fisher House is the best charity on the planet.” — Don Deitz “We are so thankful for our heroes at Camp Pendleton and its amazing volunteers and staff. We couldn’t do what we do at our clinic without them. Love this organization!!!” — Janya Orfeyeva

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

TWITTER LOVE www.twitter.com/fisherhousefdtn Thank you to @FisherHouseFdtn for getting us a hotel room close to our baby while he is in the NICU. This is such an amazing resource (gift!) that offers us such peace of mind during a stressful time. — @kaylastrayer Fisher House took care of my parents when I was injured in 2001. They’ve been my go-to charity for 19 years now. My mom still works with them from time to time and this is awesome. — @jeremy_hammett Great program to donate to!!! As I said a few times before; I would not have donated 230,000 hero miles if I did not believe it was a great program. — @DwaneClifford

2

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


Active duty Army officers welcome twins into NICU  Story by David Nye Photos courtesy of Joshua and McKenna Wells

Army officers Josh and McKenna Wells are planners. They plan missions, they plan their careers, and when they found out they were pregnant, they planned and packed for the birth with lots of time to spare. That was prudent, because Elliot and Emilia were delivered April 21, over two months early. McKenna had enough warning to fly the 500 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson with Josh following in the car before the babies came. Mom and dad stayed in the hospital together for a few days until the babies were safely delivered, but they knew it would be a while before they could all head home. So, they moved into the nearby Fisher House just steps away from their twins, where they were able to visit often until it was time to go home. With a long stay in a stressful time, the family was grateful for the home-like atmosphere of the Fisher House.

“There’s the kitchen, and the washing machine, it’s the feeling of being in a home. Because, in a hotel, you know, it feels like a hotel,” said McKenna. “And I would go on to add that, when you’re at a hotel, you’re just a customer there,” Josh said. “Here, you’re family.” No matter the circumstances, families still take care of each other in Fisher Houses. The babies were staying in the neonatal intensive care unit, so the other house guests and staff were careful to protect the parents while showing their excitement for the twins. Everyone wore masks and practiced social distancing, and the parents returned to their room one day to find the door decorated, and another couple staying in the house, Alice and Don, had purchased clothes for the twins. The couple celebrated Mother’s Day and McKenna’s birthday at the Fisher House, safely, with other guests. “We definitely would not have had that at a hotel,” McKenna said, “Not at all.” Elliott and Emilia headed home with mom and dad on June 12, almost two months after they were born but still weeks before their original due date. The twins continue to grow, healthy and strong.

Photos above from left to right: Army officers Josh and McKenna Wells hold their twins, Elliot and Emilia, after their birth over two months early. The twins sit together in the neonatal intensive care unit. McKenna Wells kisses her infant twins.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

3


GUEST FAMILY

PROFILE: The Sampson Family Story by Michelle Baldanza Photos by Cherl Sampson

NAME: Jeff & Cherl Sampson HOUSE: St. Louis VA Medical Center Fisher House St. Louis, Missouri HOME STATE: Alba, Missouri MILITARY BRANCH: Navy

Cherl Sampson clutched her steering wheel as she tried to see through the blinding January snow in 2019. She had just checked her husband, Navy and Vietnam veteran Jeff Sampson, into the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri to prepare for a double-lung transplant and was now headed to a place for her to rest: the St. Louis VA Medical Center Fisher House. Jeff 's lungs had been slowly degrading for months and were functioning at just 17 percent of normal capacity. Jeff was placed on a double-lung transplant list. When they learned a transplant had become available on January 10, Cherl and Jeff jumped in the car and drove from their home in Alba, Missouri to St. Louis. The weather hadn’t been bad when they arrived, but by the time Jeff was settled and it was time for Cherl to drive to the Fisher House, the clouds had turned into a snowstorm. With no cell phone signal and no GPS, Cherl became disoriented and lost. A small miracle came when her signal came back with just minutes left on her battery. She quickly called the local Fisher House manager, Vanniecia Brown, who went out into the storm to find her and led her to the doors of Fisher House. “I call Vanniecia my angel for finding me. She was the only one I could call. My phone totally went dead”, said Cherl. “I was nervous of course, because I didn't know anybody. I didn't know what this was, what the place was going to be like. I was nervous for his surgery, everything. But when I got there, the people just opened their arms.” Clockwise from top: The Sampson became close friends with other guests during their stay at Fisher House. Guests enjoy a meal in the dining room with Cherl and Jeff Sampson. Volunteers at the St. Louis Fisher House cook meals for guests.

4

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

“That meant the world to me. I went ahead and had my surgery,” said Jeff. “My wife was back and forth every day, but she was staying at the Fisher House and when I got out after 10 days, I went to the Fisher House. It was a place to stay, but then the longer I was there, it was like home — home away from home.” Due to the nature of his surgery, it was important that Jeff ’s recovery was in a very clean location. “The staff was incredibly nice. I just can't say enough good things. The place was clean. Just having a double-lung transplant, I had to worry about germs and people breathing on me. I had to be extra careful,” explained Jeff. “Everybody had to be healthy there. I didn't have to worry about any kind of infection, any kind of sickness, because I knew everybody was healthy.” Jeff described how volunteers would come in once a month on Tuesdays and make tacos and certain volunteers would make “the best meatloaf I ever ate in my life” on the first Monday of the month. He went so far as scheduling his first annual follow up on


a Monday to make sure he didn’t miss an opportunity to have that meatloaf again. He also remarked on the savings from his stay. “If I had to stay in a motel or eat out, it would have cost me a minimum of probably $5,000,” said Jeff, “but everything at the Fisher House was free, and the people that we met were awesome.” The couple formed relationships with other guests and have even traveled to visit them since their stay. Guests Wanda Pierson and her son, Brad Reimer, were staying at the house while Brad was being treated after a diving accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. “He is one awesome guy. Awesome sense of humor,” Jeff said of Brad. “We just got along. We clicked and had a great time.” “You go in there as strangers, but you definitely, definitely leave as friends. Good friends,” said Cherl. “It's just an amazing experience.” In Jeff ’s words, he has been an overachiever ever since the surgery. His first Pulmonary Function Test, an assessment of how well lungs function, was only one week after surgery and was around 60 percent. A week later it jumped to 97 percent of what would be expected for a healthy man of Jeff 's age and demographics, and it has been over 100 percent ever since. Jeff returned for his annual appointment in July and received a clean bill of health. When asked if he feels comfortable staying at the Fisher House during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said “I actually feel more comfortable there than I would anywhere else. I'd be just as comfortable there as I am in my own living room.” “It was like staying in the best hotel that I could think of, but there were always people there, and so that made it better. You're never alone,” said Jeff.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

5


A Family's Love — Fisher House Launches New Program to Better Connect Families Face-to-Face Amidst COVID-19 Story by Jenney Premont

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live, work, and heal, a family’s love is still the best medicine. For WWII and Army veteran Dr. Patrick McClain, seeing family face-to-face on his 101st birthday was a great surprise. In June, Patrick fell ill while visiting his daughter in South Carolina and was admitted to the Columbia VA Health Care System in Columbia, South Carolina. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, he was unable to receive visitors for this major milestone. The staff at the VA found a way to let him celebrate his birthday safely thanks to the Fisher House Foundation’s new program, “A Family’s Love.” At Fisher House, we know a family’s love is the best medicine. It’s true for families like Patrick and all of those who have stayed in Fisher Houses over the years. For service members and veterans, this change can be difficult to endure alone. This is why Fisher House Foundation created “A Family’s Love,” a new program that has provided 185 Facebook Portal TV stations to more than 88 VA facilities throughout the United States.

“It was wonderful that a WWII veteran was able to celebrate his 101st birthday with his family virtually through the use of a Facebook portal,” said Shin Yun, social work program coordinator at the Columbia VA Health Care System. “He was so happy to see his children in South Carolina and Washington state on his birthday. The portal was a remarkable way to keep veterans and their loved ones connected since we cannot allow visitors in the hospital due to the pandemic.” “At the Columbia VA, we are always trying our best to find new ways of keeping our veteran patients in touch with their families and loved ones,” said David Omura, director and chief executive officer of the Columbia VA Health Care System. “When patients are hospitalized, it affects not only the patient, but the entire family. Not being able to physically come and see a family’s veteran can be extremely challenging, especially during this time. To address this, we have embraced the use of virtual video technologies so that we can continue to provide excellent patient and family-centered care.”

Facebook Portal TVs are video-calling devices that use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to call or message friends, family, and colleagues. Users can call multiple people at the same time, enabling virtual face-to face conversations with groups. The portal is wired to a smartTV to provide a larger screen for easier viewing. During a time of great uncertainty, it is important to stay connected to those you love. This new program was created to provide an easy way for virtual connection in hopes of keeping families linked together. The nationwide initiative was inspired by the staff at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, when they successfully deployed this new technology for their veteran patients early in the pandemic. “During this time of crisis, we continue to ensure that our organization plays our part in supporting social distancing and created ‘A Family’s Love’ to safely bring people together,” said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. “Over the years, we have witnessed firsthand the healing impact of a family’s love and support, and through technology, we’re proud to continue helping to foster that by deploying Facebook Portal TV stations.” The Facebook Portal stations help families talk to their loved ones being treated in hospitals while visitors were not allowed in units during the pandemic. Top Photo: Dillon McConnell Middle Photo: The McClain Family Bottom Photo: Marlous Black

6

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


Meet Noelle, a Scholarships for Military Children Grant Recipient Story by Michelle Baldanza

Shortly after Noelle Nafus was born in December 2001, her dad, Marine Corps Col. Matthew Nafus, was deployed twice, once to Pearl Harbor for a year and then to Iraq for a year. During her senior year of high school, her dad was called to active duty twice more. As the Marine Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, he was first called up to help with the COVID-19 crisis and again for the 2020 hurricane season. Noelle is one of 500 recipients of Fisher House Foundation’s Scholarships for Military Children scholarship grant. The program, designed for kids just like her, is in its 20th year supporting children of military service members and veterans and is administered in partnership with the Defense Commissary Agency. Each awardee receives a $2,000 scholarship.

to sing so I was hoping to get involved in some choirs and a cappella groups and different things like that.” “I'm really proud of him,” said Noelle of her dad. “I don't remember what it was like for him to be on active duty, so this was really the first time for me. It's hard, because I miss him, but I'm so proud of him for helping out in any way he can.”  Applications for the 2021-22 school year will open on December 14, 2020 and close on February 17, 2021. More information can be found on Fisher House Foundation’s website for scholarships: www.militaryscholar.org. Here you can learn more about the Scholarships for Military Children and the Foundation’s other scholarship program, the Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship. The Foundation also supports the National Military Family Association’s Scholarships for Military Spouses. You can also access the Foundation’s online scholarship search engine that helps identify opportunities based on each applicant’s unique circumstances. “I'm just so happy to have this opportunity and definitely the scholarship to go to my dream school,” said Noelle.

“It means a lot. Any help I can receive, I'm so grateful for,” said Noelle. “This is definitely going to help me.” Noelle will attend Barnard College of Columbia University in New York and plans to major in film studies. When we spoke to her in July, it looked like she would be able to attend school on campus. Unfortunately, Barnard College was forced to cancel in-person classes in August as COVID-19 spread continued. “I'm super excited to get involved on the Columbia campus and I was thinking about joining the Columbia Daily Spectator, which is the newspaper,” she said. “I love

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

7


2020

FISHER HOUSE VOLU NTE E R OF THE YEAR

DAVID ROOKER OF ALASKA NAMED VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR Story by Alaska Fisher House

David Rooker started volunteering with Fisher House in 2014 when the Alaska Fisher House manager reached out to Project Healing Waters–an organization that provides free fly-fishing trips, fly tying, and casting practice –to see if a member

The guest soon transferred to hospice care, but David stayed in touch until the end, even mailing the veteran the occasional fly for his enjoyment.

could work with a Fisher House guest that had just learned that there were no further treatments that could slow his cancer.

return, he has touched countless lives of Fisher House families. In the past five years, David has gone almost every Wednesday night to the Fisher House to tie flies with guests of all ages. No one is too young or too old to tie with him. He stays away from talking about illness, injury, or combat. In fact, one of the best qualities of David is his listening ear. He will listen to anyone about anything; however, his favorite topic is fishing. He ties commemorative medal flies for veterans often. He provides all the materials and supplies. Veterans familiar with the sport explain that the equipment David brings is top-of-the-line, and it is a

The guest had a “bucket” list, but his need of a wheelchair limited his activities. One of the things he really wanted to do was fly fish just one more time. David, a veteran, readily agreed to go to the Fisher House and work with the guest. David helped the guest tie a few flies one last time, and then he went above and beyond by working out a way to take the guest fishing.

8

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

This experience touched David and, in

special treat to be able to use top-of-theline materials. And he is patient and kind with the guests. One night, he called in a panic because a child had knocked over a container of

300 hooks. He was afraid he couldn’t find them all and didn’t want anyone to get hurt. David has become so dependable, and is so loved, there are guests who purposely book medical appointments to include Wednesday night as a travel night so they can connect with David. Outside of his volunteer time at the house, David has met guests at the lakes on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to assist with casting practice and share a fishing hole. He is the best fishing buddy Alaska Fisher House guests can ask for. David’s heart for the Fisher House mission and families began to flow over to his spouse, Carolyn. As a retired


2020

FISHER HOUSE VOLU NTE E R OF THE YEAR

NOMINEES Fisher House Foundation is appreciative of all the volunteers who work around the country and world every day to ensure that Fisher Houses from California to Georgia and England to Germany are warm, clean, and inviting. Here are the three other volunteers who were nominated by their respective programs for 2020 Volunteer of the Year: schoolteacher, Carolyn is full of activity ideas for kids. She has supplied an untold number of activity kits for kids to take to medical appointments or to occupy time while traveling home. These activity packets are a welcome addition to the house’s kids’ activity center.

MRS. BRYANT “MOTHER BRYANT” WASHINGTON DC VA FISHER HOUSE — VA NOMINEE Mrs. Bryant, affectionately known as Mother Bryant, is hard working, detail-oriented, compassionate, and willing to assist at a moment’s notice. At 93 years young, she is truly an advocate for veterans in a healthcare environment, because of her appreciation for the sacrifices of servicemen and women, their family members, and caregivers. Dedication to service is something that comes naturally for her. As a retired federal employee and mother of seven children, she understands the power of kindness and empathy. She has volunteered at the Washington DC VA Fisher House since March 2016 and has contributed more than 1,500 volunteer hours.

RIEKO JOHNSON BROOKE ARMY MEDICAL CENTER — ARMY NOMINEE Rieko Johnson has been a Brooke Army Medical Center Fisher House volunteer since 2004. She has accumulated more than 7,000 hours as a volunteer and helps with the many special events BAMC Fisher House puts on. Her caring heart is always there to listen, share in the joys and sorrows that families experience, cheer them on during their good days, and just be there on their bad days. Quietly working away at her task, be it as simple as cleaning, she does so with a smile. One of her favorite past times as a volunteer is to hold origami classes for the residents and teach them how to make origami art.

Together, David and Carolyn never miss a celebration at Fisher House. They support every event. Between both, their volunteer hours since being introduced to Fisher House well exceeds 2,000 hours. David and Carolyn were introduced to us by making a dying veteran’s final wish come true, and now they occupy a permanent place in the heart of the Alaska Fisher House. The staff at Alaska Fisher House loves them and values the on-going love and support they give back. David Rooker was nominated for Volunteer of the Year by the Air Force's Fisher House Program.

SALTY DAWGS MOTORCYCLE RIDING CLUB OF VIRGINIA PORTSMOUTH — NAVY NOMINEE Fisher House Portsmouth nominated the Salty Dawgs Motorcycle Riding Club of Virginia, a group that has volunteered over 10,000 hours and raised more than $100,000 since 2006. The familyoriented club is comprised of U.S. Navy sailors and veterans, raising awareness of the Fisher House program through poker runs, silent auctions, and more. They even convinced the staff of Grand Design RV to support their poker run with a $20,000 donation for Fisher House Portsmouth. They strive to make personal memories for Fisher House guests, such as when they learned that a guest’s adult child was in hospice care and wanted her nails done, the Salty Dawgs fulfilled that final wish.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

9


2

nd

1

st

Joint Base San Antonio Fisher House at Brooke Army Medical Center Photo by Inge Godfrey

In addition to celebrating their first wedding anniversary at the Fisher House, Navy Petty Officer Aashis Luitel and his wife, Bivasha Saroj, welcomed their first baby. Aaron Luitel was born June 2020.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Fisher House, Alaska Photo by Alaska Fisher House Staff

The Wells Family was at the Fisher House to care for twins during pregnancy and their stay at the NICU. This family brought such joy in the midst of a medical crisis and pandemic. It was a privilege to bless the Wells Family. (Read their story on page 3)

DAY IN THE

LIFE 2020

PHOTO CONTEST Each year the Foundation sponsors a “Day in the Life” photo contest to visually showcase the Fisher House mission. It’s often hard to describe the trials, camaraderie, and bonds formed, so we’ve reached out to the Fisher Houses to help show that through photos. Here, we highlight the winners.

3

rd

Washington DC VA Medical Center Fisher House Photo by Rosalind Gray

Veteran Thomas Queen visits with his grandchildren, Marchalo and Lyric, at the Fisher House while receiving care at Washington DC VA Medical Center.

If you have a special memory or high quality photo you'd like to share with the Foundation, please send it to us at info@fisherhouse.org!

MANAGERS’ CHOICE

10

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

Naval Medical Center San Diego Fisher House Photo by Lisa Loggains, Kody’s Mother

When Kody Frazier and fellow Marines went out for drinks, they did the responsible thing and got a car service to drive them home. On the way, a drunk driver hit their car, and Kody took the impact of the accident. After being extubated in the ICU at 3 a.m., Kody’s first words were, "Where's Memaw?” Grandma, Carolyn Winn, was at the Fisher House and rushed up to the hospital to see Kody, when this moment was captured.


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

ZACH’S CLUB FUNDRAISERS: Use your passion to support the Fisher House mission! Create a fundraiser on fisherhouse.org/ fundraise or setup a fundraiser on Facebook.

JOIN ZACH’S CLUB: Become a monthly donor and honor Zachary Fisher's legacy at fisherhouse.org/zach

TRIBUTE: This holiday season, make a donation in honor of a loved one, and Fisher House will send a special message to your honoree.

FREQUENT FLYER MILES AND HOTEL POINTS: Help wounded, injured, or ill service members with their continued recovery with donated airline miles and hotel reward points, allowing them to travel or to stay in hotels when a Fisher House is full.

STOCKS AND QUALIFIED CHARITABLE DISTRIBUTION: In addition to donating stocks, anyone 701/2+, can make a donation from an IRA, possibly reducing taxes.

LEAVE A LEGACY: Remember military families in your estate plans by listing Fisher House Foundation as a beneficiary in your will, stock portfolio, life insurance policy, or other retirement assets. DONATE A VEHICLE: Get rid of an unwanted car, truck, RV, boat, or plane—running or not—and help military families. Visit fisherhouse.careasy.org for a fast and hassle-free alternative to selling or trading.

Don’t forget you can make a donation in support of Fisher House Foundation via the Combined Federal Campaign!

CFC code 11453

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

11


A Life Well Lived Story by Michelle Baldanza

“It's always tough to lose someone, but it makes it a lot easier when you know that they’ve truly lived,” said Joe Simonet of his late father, Vietnam War and Army veteran Terris Simonet. While on a bucket list adventure vacation in Asia over the holidays at the end of 2019, the Simonet family suffered a horrible blow. Terris fell terribly ill, requiring travel as soon as possible from Japan to the closest major Veterans Affairs or military hospital that could handle his rapidly deteriorating health condition. On January 8, the family departed Japan for Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu so Terris could be admitted in the United States and have his care transferred back into the VA healthcare system. The next major obstacle was finding a place to stay for Joe and his mom, Miyoshi. The Fisher House was initially full, but a last-minute cancellation provided the opening the family needed. They were able to move into their “home away from home” where they would not only cope with illness and loss but also the safety restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the first couple of weeks, Terris began showing progress, was discharged, and moved into the Fisher House where he would continue receiving treatment as an outpatient. He had been diagnosed with Metastatic Multiple Myeloma; a type of bone cancer directly associated to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. This required chemotherapy and additional treatment that initially appeared to have positive results. The family began doing physical and occupational therapy together at the Fisher House because, due to the pandemic restrictions, appointments with professional physical therapists were unavailable. Shortly before Easter, however, Terris’ health took a turn for the worse, and the family made the difficult decision to readmit him even though COVID-19 safety precautions would mean he would be no longer be able to receive visitors. “They did go out of their way — one of the nurses was nice enough to bring their personal phone into the room and hold it up to his ear so that I could talk to him,” said Joe. “He couldn't respond to me, but me and my mom could talk to him for the last time.” In the early morning hours of April 12, Easter Sunday, Terris lost his battle with cancer and passed away. Joe said they felt fortunate to have the extra time with his father and learn what his last wishes were if things did not go as

12

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

planned. “He had said, ‘Man, if something goes down here, don't bother trying to bring my body back to Wisconsin, especially amid all this COVID stuff.’” Joe explained that his dad’s sense of humor stayed strong as he also joked that the “ground is just way warmer here in the winter than it is in Wisconsin, anyway.” Through the challenges, Fisher House was able to accommodate Joe and his mom for longer than would typically be normal. Since travel was so severely restricted, incoming guests had to cancel their appointments leaving space for the Simonets. Once restrictions began being lifted, they were able to return to Wisconsin. The family planned for Terris to be cremated and interred at Hawaii State Veteran’s Cemetery, however, nothing was simple because of the pandemic. Joe anticipates they will be able to return to Hawaii and hold a service for his father in Hawaii towards the end of 2020. Joe reflected on how the Fisher House brought comfort to his family. “I just thought it was a place that you could stay, while a family member or somebody you know is in the hospital, but it's just so much more than that,” said Joe. “My father was always adamant with me about not bothering to regret the things you’ve done in life, only the things you haven’t, and to that tune we were able to enjoy our last month together in Hawaii. From watching


sunsets while grilling outside, to having dinner with new friends as well as old, and most of all enjoying that precious family time just sitting around together as if in our own home, which is all too often pushed aside by the busy schedules in our everyday lives.” Joe explained how right up until the end of his father’s life, their family experienced life to the fullest. “The most important thing really, is just don't wait until it's too late,” he said. “We took those trips, we had those dinners, we said, ‘I love you.’ Furthermore, I am eternally grateful for that one good month post-surgery when things were going better, because as short-lived as it was, we did everything we could with the time that we had. There was nothing left unsaid. He knew where we were at. We knew where he was at. It made the loss of my father easier for my mother and I to cope with, and it made it easier for us to let go at that time.” he said.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

13


FISHER HOUSE

SALUTES

Military service members, veterans, and their families are supported by countless organizations that acknowledge their sacrifices. We feature a top-tier organization each issue. Story by Michelle Baldanza

WE SALUTE: The Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Character Development Program For both parents and teachers in isolation, finding resources to inspire children has been more challenging than ever. One organization, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, is made up of members who not only have inspiring stories but are also committed to sharing them to help others. In 2009, the society created the Character Development Program to inspire young minds to become active members of their communities. According to the CDP Mission Statement, the Character Development Program teaches the values represented in the Medal of Honor — Courage, Commitment, Integrity, Sacrifice, Citizenship, and Patriotism — to the young people of the United States. Normally, the series of lessons might include visits from Medal of Honor recipients, but because of COVID-19, the program had to adjust. It isn’t surprising that this society wouldn’t let anything stop them from accomplishing their mission. In order to help educators and families teach from home, the society doubled their online forum to twice a month and increased their social media presence so

14

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

that they could reach America’s youth where they are learning ­— even if at home. Army Captain, Medal of Honor Recipient, and former Fisher House guest Florent “Flo” Groberg was the special guest at the CDP’s online webinar on April 29, 2020. The response was incredible. More than 475 people participated in the dialogue and a recording was distributed to educators across the country for further use. “This is a wonderful program that I have enjoyed sharing with my students.” said Candice Palacios, a teacher at Meadowlark School in Action, California. “As a military wife, it is especially meaningful to me to be able to share such important character qualities with my class.” The CDP series of lessons was developed by teachers and can be taught by anyone, anywhere. They are available at no cost. More information about this program and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society can be found at www.themedalofhonor.com.


Kyle Neff ent elopm v e D r Senio ssociate d A rylan ville,

Rock

MEET The Staff

Ma

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

Kyle Neff

Senior Development Associate Many of you may know Kyle Neff as the person who has helped you with a question or assisted you with your monthly donation. Since he started at Fisher House Foundation in December of 2010, Kyle has helped hundreds of individuals who call with inquiries. As a Senior Development Associate, he works to ensure that every donor has a great experience. He enjoys working with individuals who are passionate about helping military families, serving himself as a civilian in the public affairs office at Fort Detrick, Maryland prior to arriving at Fisher House almost ten years ago. Kyle and his wife, Kara, recently welcomed their first son, Ewan, this past December, and he’s already an avid hiker like his parents. Although Kyle is somewhat new to the outdoors, he and his family have been hiking at least five miles every weekend for a few months now. Hiking also enables Kyle to indulge in his love of history. He majored in history at Hood College and enjoys visiting historic locations he has, up to this point, only read about. He has planned a ten-mile hike at the Battlefield of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland this fall. Kyle has an innate passion for learning new things and acquiring knowledge, making him the go-to source for questions from his colleagues as well as an area trivia champion.

The goals of AFSP include reaching out to those suffering from mental illness and supporting families who have lost someone to suicide. Each fall, AFSP hosts “Out of the Darkness Community Walks” in cities around the country to raise awareness for mental health issues. Kyle has been a speaker at his local walk several times, and he enjoys the opportunity to share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and that we can all help each other through difficult times. For anyone going through a mental health crisis or for anyone concerned about someone else’s mental health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at (800) 273-8255. The Veterans’ Crisis Line is available by pressing 1 when calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In addition to his work at Fisher House Foundation, Kyle actively raises funds and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). He has faced his own periods of depression and anxiety from a young age. Through the love and support of his friends and family, including his Fisher House family, Kyle continues to face each challenge head on. He works to destigmatize the perceptions that surround mental illness by doing his utmost to succeed every day. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

15


COVER STORY:

VA Fisher Houses

open doors to healthcare workers in COVID-19 push Story by David Nye Photos by Craig Orsini

In the early days of a global pandemic, many Fisher Houses that serve the Veterans Affairs healthcare systems were closed to guests as a safety precaution. Fifteen of these 44 houses pivoted to support the frontline healthcare professionals that were risking their own well-being to save others. Most Fisher Houses returned to their role of supporting veterans and their families by July. The conversion of these empty houses to support frontline healthcare professionals helped ensure that healthy staff members could make the most of their limited rest time and keep their own families safe. “Fisher House provides me with a safe, comfortable room to rest between night shifts, so I do not have to drive back and forth from New Hampshire,” Bethany McEleney, a physical therapist at the VA Boston Healthcare System who worked 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit, said at the time. “This place of respite supports the whole ICU team because I arrive rested every day.” For other healthcare professionals, staying at Fisher House was a way to ensure that they could continue working to save veteran lives even if they had vulnerable family members in their own homes. Allison Conlon, a registered nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at VA Boston HCS, has a 2-year-old with special medical needs at home. “I feel so grateful and so fortunate to have a room here. This has been one of the most difficult experiences, but living here at Fisher House and working with such supportive [medical intensive care unit] nurses has made it that much easier.” Fisher Houses are gifted from Fisher House Foundation to the VA. Typically, their use is restricted to supporting military

16

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

and veteran families while a loved one is undergoing care at a medical facility. When the VA proposed the transition of Fisher Houses to support healthcare professionals, Fisher House Foundation encouraged the exceptions as the healthcare systems rapidly adapted to deal with COVID-19. “Since my great uncle, Zachary, and his wife, Elizabeth, started the first Fisher House, it has always been about supporting those who serve,” said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. “More than 30 years later, that has not changed, but the needs of veterans and service members have temporarily shifted in this crisis. Fisher House Foundation is proud to work with our partners at the VA to serve those healthcare professionals who are serving our veterans every day.” “The transition of Fisher Houses for housing to support our healthcare workers allows VA to execute all aspects of our mission, including VA’s fourth of supporting the national COVID-19 response,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.


“VA continues to provide Fisher House programming for veterans and their families while supporting the needs of our staff.” Fisher House managers had to balance the long-term needs of the houses against the immediate needs of the medical systems they support when adapting to this new calling. House Manager Erik Zielinski of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System described in a blog post how "during a four-day period, five Fisher House staff members, three volunteers and one housekeeper worked together as a team to transition the house to accommodate this new mission.” Holly Wright, manager of the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Fisher House, explained how her team ensured that safe social distancing could be maintained in the house. “We had amazing support from our community as we made this conversion, and we look forward to their support when we’re able to welcome veterans and their families once again,” Wright said in the spring. “We took proactive steps to make the conversion back as easy as possible, like storing away decorations and fabrics that would be hard to sanitize, but we will still need masks, hand sanitizer, and other supplies to help maintain a safe environment for our families.” House managers also had to ensure that their house could be quickly transitioned back to hosting military and veteran families. “By re-activating the Fisher House with social distance guidelines and creating self-service stations and virtual communications, we strive to support our front-line staff as they do this life-saving work and give them and their loved ones a fighting chance to stay safe,” said VA Boston Healthcare Fisher House Manager Elizabeth St. Pierre. When Fisher Houses that were selected to house healthy staff returned to their core mission of housing military and veteran family members, the transition back to housing families was done slowly and deliberately to ensure that no coronavirus was present.

At left, from left to right: The VA Boston Fisher House hosted healthy staff with the VA Boston Healthcare System while the medical center was closed to visitors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Allison Conlon, a registered nurse, poses before a shift. At right, from top to bottom: Ed Roberts stayed at the VA Boston Fisher House to prevent carrying COVID-19 to his immunocompromised family in case he accidentally contracted it while serving veterans. Bethany McEleney, a physical therapist, volunteered to serve as a nurse during the pandemic. She stayed at the VA Boston Fisher House so that she could work long shifts and still get rest.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

17


COMMUNITY GROUPS

IN ACTION

At Fisher House Foundation, we have the support of community groups throughout the country who support their local Fisher Houses or raise funds and awareness for a future Fisher House in their area. Here are some highlights.

Milwaukee, WI

Fisher House Wisconsin helps VA healthcare providers Although times are tough during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fisher House Wisconsin is still finding ways to support our veterans. We love our healthcare providers and are so thankful for the many doctors, nurses, specialists, and others who give so much to care for our veterans every day. To show our appreciation, Fisher House Wisconsin had an assortment of snacks delivered to the staff at the VA. A little token to hopefully brighten their day and help fuel their energy for long shifts. Carrie Lodi, a volunteer and VA employee, even arrived very early in the morning to make sure the 3rd shift staff members were not missed. Thank you to our VA healthcare workers!

Ann Arbor, MI

Donors support VA Ann Arbor Fisher House during the pandemic What makes a Fisher House a home? It's the little things. Our Fisher House at VA Ann Arbor opened during the COVID-19 pandemic and it's made supporting the house challenging. No volunteers are allowed inside, and fundraising feels insensitive while so much is uncertain for our community. However, we discovered a silver lining. People still wanted to help, but they weren't sure how. We started offering micro-opportunities for people to get involved in caring for Fisher House guests, from the safety of their own homes. What makes a Fisher House a home? A fruit basket and a jar of treats on the kitchen counter. Compostable coffee cups to reduce spreading germs while being earth friendly. Individually labeled baskets in the refrigerator for families to store their personal items. Dispensers for soap and hand sanitizer in each private room and common area. Some of these items were nice to have, others became absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy living environment. And each of them was purchased by donors who gave in denominations from $6 to $50. What makes a Fisher House a home... and what allows donors to support that home during a pandemic? It's the little things.

Feeding our everyday heroes in Maryland

Andrews AFB, MOMD 18

Our healthcare workers are on the front lines battling the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has spread rapidly throughout our communities. Doctors, nurses, medics, technicians, transporters, pharmacists, and everyone who supports patient care are rising to the occasion and caring for our most vulnerable populations. The Joint Base Andrews Fisher House, Inc. expressed their appreciation to these everyday heroes by providing two days’ worth of catered lunches at Malcolm Grow Medical Clinics and Surgery Center, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Working with 11th Medical Group leadership and the staff at the Punjab Grill in Washington, D.C., 300 meals of exquisite Indian cuisine were prepared and delivered to medical personnel on May 28 and 29, 2020. Pictured are Airman Bantogon, left, and Airman Galvan, right, getting ready to enjoy their meals. We salute their dedication!

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


Meet the Manager Fisher House Foundation is privileged to have amazing managers at our Fisher Houses. These professionals do a wonderful job taking care of the families that call Fisher House “a home away from home.” By Megan Douthat and Jenney Premont

Erik Zielinski

South Te x as Veter ans Health Care System Fisher Houses

For our nation’s men and women in uniform, the day they finish their formal military service is often just the beginning of another chapter of involvement with Erik is pictured above on the left. the armed forces. This couldn’t be truer for Erik Zielinski, the Fisher House Manager at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio. After an eight-year career in the United States Marine Corps and the completion of three combat tours, he wanted to do more to serve and support his fellow servicemen and women. When Erik joined the Fisher House family as the manager at the San Antonio VA in 2014, some could call his posting an act of fate. “As soon as the Fisher House in San Antonio opened, I just knew I wanted to be there,” said Erik. “I feel as though I belong at Fisher House. It is my calling to work with these families who pass through our doors.” Day-in and day-out, Erik provides families with the essentials and, more importantly, other necessities that don’t show up on to-do lists, like laughter or just someone to talk to. He often finds gratification in learning how he can help in the best ways, whether it be a small task such as arranging a grocery delivery or a bigger service like flying in a close relative using the Hero Miles program. “One of the greatest honors I’ve had during my time as a house manager is to meet these brave men and women and help their families feel comfortable. One of my most memorable experiences was with a Korean War veteran. His family was staying here at the house, and I told them that I needed to meet him. When I was able to speak with him, we immediately hit it off and started sharing our experiences in the Marine Corps. Hearing about his service was so inspiring and

such a strong reminder of why we do the work we do. I will never forget it.” To further support guests at the San Antonio Fisher House, Erik plans, organizes, and hosts the “Season of Sharing Event,” an annual holiday event unique to the San Antonio Fisher House. “It’s really emotional to see the gratitude these families have, even during a really tough time,” Erik shared. “We invite Santa and superheroes to the party for the kids and families. Members of the community donate gifts and we make these beautiful gift baskets to show the families we care.” Not only do the family members get to participate in this event, but in recent years, Erik has brought the celebrations to those in the hospital who are unable to attend due to treatment restrictions or who might not have family in the area for the holidays. During a time when it is so hard to be alone, Erik and his team of volunteers spend time with these amazing men and women who have sacrificed so much. This past year, Erik’s job, along with many other Fisher House managers across the country, took a twist as COVID-19 began to spread. To help healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients around the clock, the VA converted several homes into places for medical staff to stay, providing a comfortable, relaxing, and convenient place to physically distance from loved ones and remain close to the hospital. “The VA has done a great job responding to COVID-19 and keeping on with service to veterans. I received a lot of support from our healthcare system and the VA and am humbled to be in a position to provide a little bit of relief for our healthcare heroes.” An additional Fisher House has been approved to be built at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, allowing for the accommodation of more families as needs are in high demand. Erik continues to be a valued member of the Fisher House family and the military and veteran community.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

19


Hearts in Hearts in the Community

the Community

Proud Supporters Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Fisher House supporters found amazing ways to raise money to keep military and veteran families together during a medical crisis. We are so grateful for these innovative, proud supporters. Air Force Capt. Corey Godwin came up with his own challenge for Fisher House — the Flat Top February Fisher House Challenge. Every year in February, he challenges friends to get a flat top haircut. If his friends get the haircut, they donate $15. And if they don’t get a flat top, they donate $30. This year, Air Force Capt. Dakota Risner kept the challenge going while Corey was deployed to Afghanistan. The challenge has raised more than $500.

In March, Tammy Freye, auxiliary president for the Bemidji Eagles Aerie #351, raised more than $6,000 by holding a wine tasting at the Bemidji Eagles Club in Minnesota. Members of the club and their guests had a wonderful time for a great cause before safety precautions put in place for COVID-19 went into effect.

The Navy Youth Hockey Association held a virtual Hockey for Heroes event in Annapolis, Maryland raising $5,000 for Fisher House. Because of COVID-19, the scheduled hockey games were cancelled, but thanks to the continued support of the sponsors, players, families, and the local hockey community, the event was a success.

Brandon Gravino from Virginia livestreamed himself doing four pushups per dollar donated. His show of physical strength raised $600!

For the second time, Army veteran David Uhl planned to participate in the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge in August, where his goal was to raise $5,000 for Fisher House Foundation and $2,000 for the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System Fisher House. The challenge for him and one hundred other bikers was to ride a motorcycle without a GPS for 10,000 miles. David felt that the experience was a great way to raise awareness for Fisher House. David’s son served in the Army and his daughter continues to serve which inspired him to get involved. “These experiences made me very aware of the sacrifices that our military and their families endure for our country,” said David.

20

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


Corporate Corporateand andFoundation FoundationGiving Giving Fisher FisherHouse HouseFoundation Foundationis isthe thebeneficiary beneficiaryofofmany manygenerous generousgifts. gifts.Here, Here,wewehighlight highlight companies companiesthat thatcontinue continuetotosupport supportthe theFisher FisherHouse Houseprogram. program.

USAA and The USAA Foundation, Inc. have been longtime supporters of Fisher House Foundation, with life-time support in the amount of more than $5.7 million. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The USAA Foundation, Inc. assisted military families with the purchase of gift cards to provide safe, catered meals and groceries for families staying at Fisher Houses at military hospitals, items that were often provided by volunteers. With volunteer programs halted to help prevent coronavirus spread, The USAA Foundation, Inc.’s support helped families enjoy nutritious meals as they were busy tending to their loved one's medical needs. The USAA Foundation, Inc. is the lead supporter for Fisher House Foundation’s COVID-19 efforts. “The USAA Foundation Inc.’s generous donation came at a crucial time for military and veteran families helping loved ones through medical crises,” Fisher House Foundation chairman and CEO Kenneth Fisher said. “As COVID-19 limited meal deliveries from our great volunteers and forced house managers to quickly change how they support their guests, the flexibility afforded by these gift cards ensured that family members could keep their focus exactly where it is needed: on their loved ones in hospitals across the country. We want to thank The USAA Foundation, Inc. for its ongoing support, both during this crisis and in more normal times.”

“USAA is thankful that we are able to offer continued support to the Fisher House Foundation, especially during this unprecedented time,” said Harriet Dominique, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at USAA. “The Fisher House Foundation is helping to fill a gap that has opened as a result of the pandemic and the families will be forever grateful.” Committed to wounded, ill, and injured service members, USAA and The USAA Foundation, Inc. have been major supporters of the construction of Fisher Houses and helped fund homes in Tampa, Florida; Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; and in San Antonio, Texas at Brooke Army Medical Center and the South Texas VA. In addition, they have supported the Hero Miles program that provides round-trip airline tickets to service members and their families who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center. USAA recently committed funds for the purchase of video teleconferencing equipment to help veterans staying in hospitals connect with loved ones, while remaining physically distanced. This program, known as A Family’s Love, relies on Facebook Portals, bundled with smart TVs, sent to VA hospitals that had to limit visitors because of the risk of COVID-19. The equipment allows patients to spend time with family and friends virtually so that they stay connected while receiving hospital care.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

21


Letters to F isher

December 2O19: My husband and l have been coming to the Dayton Fisher House for three months, in the beginning for just a day or two at a time when he had appointments. However, when his condition became serious over six weeks ago, he entered the hospital and l became a full-time resident of room 1o8. Now, a few days after Thanksgiving, l am ready to leave, thankfully with a husband much healthier for his stay. Only with the care and wonderful facility that is Fisher House was l able to provide the help and support to be what my husband needed me to be. l don’t know if l’ve ever met more generous, caring, compassionate people before. When it looked like his days were numbered, l received shoulders not to cry on, but to cry with, as these wonderful folks cried right along with me. Such a beautiful facility that provides anything you could possibly need, with a staff that goes so far above and beyond the call is a blessing every veteran deserves but doesn’t always get. Thank you, a thousand times over, Fisher House. We truly thank you. (Follow-up, June 2O2O): Now, several months later, l am waiting to pick up my husband from the hospital. He has been in so many times that l have lost track, including once for the flu. l don’t know how many times l’ll have this home away from home to lean on and in as he is nearing the end of his journey after 52 ½ years of marriage. My family thought it would never last. My solace is the reunion we’ll have after this life is done. Thank you 1,OOO times over for the room, but even more for the love you all have poured into our lives. The laughter, sharing, tears, and hugs even with COVlD-19 mean more than l can possibly express. God Bless you all.

22

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


House Foundation Our visit was cut short due to the coronavirus, surgery was cancelled, but we

love this place and will be back again soon. Thank you.

This place is a mazing and such a blessing for the fa milies that can stay with their loved ones without anything else to worry about but them. Putting all your focus on the ones you love means so much to their fa milies. Our great appreciation for the F isher House can only be put in the words: you guys are angels sent from heaven. The staff here are a mazing! They bring you in and automatically, you feel at home. Speaking for us and so many more veterans, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Today and in the future, I’m sure you’ ll touch many more lives as appreciative people come and go. Keep up the good work and always know you angels at the F isher House will be forever more in our thoughts and prayers. May God Bless and keep you safe.

Words cannot express how truly the Fisher House is such a gift for the veterans and families! Thank you to the staff and the Foundation. Your kindness and generosity is and will be a blessing to so many. The extra care and accommodation provided by the outstanding staff will be pleasantly remembered. Thank you to all veterans for your service!

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

23


HOUSEROUNDUP The Patriot always loves to check in and see what our Fisher Houses have been up to. Here, we share highlights from houses around the world, submitted by our managers. ARIZONA

 OUTHERN ARIZONA S VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Tucson

ALASKA

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson The Adams Family is no stranger to the Alaska Fisher House. During her first pregnancy, Katie Adams ‘stork-nested’, a term used for a pregnant guest who, during her pregnancy, needs a higher level of medical care that is not available at home. ‘Stork-nesting’ is a large part of our mission to support moms and their families that come to Anchorage. The first ‘stork-nest’ was to deliver twin boys in December of 2018. The Adams Family was blessed with another pregnancy, and we welcomed the young family back to ‘stork-nest’. Along with chasing after twin toddlers, Katie managed her pregnancy through COVID-19 and delivered a healthy baby boy, Decatur Grizzly.

24

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

When Scott Lehman, owner of Premier Auto Center, became aware of the SAVAHCS Fisher House and its mission he knew immediately that he wanted to become involved. That was approximately two years ago, and during this time he has increased awareness to reach our veterans, their loved ones, and the local community in Southern Arizona through a large-scale media campaign. He along with Fisher House Manager, Kelly Laurich, completed radio interviews and television shows that included Fisher House guests to educate the community and to understand the need and impact of a Fisher House. In addition, he partnered with Cox Media and produced two local videos that were shown statewide for a month, one video per year. His impact on the SAVAHCS Fisher House included: educating the community about their local Fisher House, informing veterans of the service, and encouraging others to volunteer and donate. Outreach is an integral part of a Fisher House’s success and plays a monumental role in reaching our veterans and providing service.

CALIFORNIA

NAVAL HOSPITAL CAMP PENDLETON Camp Pendleton The Daughters of the American Revolution – Santa Margarita Chapter prepared a delicious homemade meal for our Fisher House families on January 23, 2020. After lunch was served, Kristine Wood, National Chair for the DAR, presented an autographed

copy of her book “Run for the Wall: A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial” to Fisher House Camp Pendleton and our Military Families. Kristine rides with the Patriot Guard Riders and published this book, which is a collection of stories and photos about the annual cross-country motorcycle ride to Washington, D.C. We appreciate the amazing women from the DAR and their continued support.

 AVAL MEDICAL CENTER N SAN DIEGO San Diego Established in 1998, Monkey Depot LLC specializes in the sale of high-quality military themed action figures, toy soldiers, die cast models, and books. A division of Monkey Depot LLC is Monkey Edge, established in 2010, as a separate website dedicated to the sale of tactical knives and gear. The two divisions combined their efforts to host their annual fundraiser called the “Monkey Muster” with 100% of Monkey Mega Lotto tokens benefitting Fisher House San Diego. In December 2019 the Monkey Muster’s goal was “to throw an amazing party with cocktails, grub and shenanigans to raise a ton of dough for Fisher House San Diego.” They did just that and generated $20,000 in donations. With such success, the Monkey Muster was slated for a return in April 2020. In light of the pandemic, the “Monkey Muster” braved on and


was hosted virtually in April raising a total of $22,675 for Fisher House San Diego. We appreciate Monkey Depot LLC and Monkey Edge for their support of military personnel and their families during times of medical crisis.

GEORGIA

EISENHOWER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER Fort Gordon

F LO R I DA

 A ORLANDO V MEDICAL CENTER Orlando

 AVID GRANT D USAF MEDICAL CENTER Travis AFB Marisa Gomez is one of our regular volunteers who has been volunteering with us since March 2019. She is always willing to help us with decorating, baking, and anything else we need. She has a giving spirit and a heart for the mission.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

The Orlando Fisher House and Fisher House Foundation hosted a luncheon and open house on March 3 for approximately 300 golf professionals from Billy Casper Golf (BCG). The World’s Largest Golf Outing and BCG have been very supportive of Fisher Houses across the nation and donated more than $400,000 towards the construction of the Orlando Fisher House. Not only were they able to tour the Fisher House, but they also continued to show their love and support by presenting a check to Mary Considine, Fisher House Foundation, for almost $400,000. Thank you, Billy Casper Golf and World’s Largest Golf Outing!

Several members of the Health Services Auxiliary showed up to Fisher House on June 24, 2020, fully masked due to COVID-19, to present a check for $29,274.71 to the Fort Gordon Fisher House at Eisenhower Army Medical Center from the 24th Annual HSA Fisher House Golf fundraiser, which was unfortunately cancelled. They were greeted by Col. Carlene A. Blanding, DDEAMC Commander, Command Sgt. Maj. William E. Allen, DDEAMC Command Sergeant Major, and Mr. Francisco Cruz, Fisher House Manager. Mr. Paul Steeley, HSA member and Golf Chair, stated that the Auxiliary was sad to say that the 24th Annual HSA Fisher House Golf Tournament at Gordon Lakes had to be cancelled for 2020. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the event could not be held as advertised before the end of the HSA fiscal year. However, most sponsors and supporters honored their commitments to the Fort Gordon Fisher House at Eisenhower Army Medical Center and received the best possible tangible recognition for their Fisher House contributions.

 ASHINGTON DC W VA MEDICAL CENTER District of Columbia Coniece Washington is a veteran and nationally recognized jazz vocalist in the DMV area who captivates her audience with her distinctive, sultry sweet stylings. She’s one of the jazz singers who can channel the spirit of many who came before her such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn. The “Coniece & Friends” band serenaded the DC VA Fisher House for a romantic “Valentine’s Delight” evening for veterans, families, and caregivers with love. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

25


HOUSEROUNDUP KENTUCKY

BLANCHFIELD ARMY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL Fort Campbell We incurred some roof damage during a windstorm last fall. In fact, there were several buildings on Fort Campbell that were damaged. Fortunately for us, it was mostly cosmetic, and a quick patch job was all it took to keep us operational while waiting to get on the roofing contractor’s schedule. When the pandemic hit, we were not sure what that meant for us and our guests. Within days, all guests had departed and we were sitting empty. As it turned out, the timing couldn’t be better…the roofing company showed up. Not having guests in the house meant they could start immediately. We officially closed the house while the roof was being replaced, and just like most home projects, it took longer than anticipated. Our spring weather can take credit for most of the delays. Once the roof was complete, the installation had many restrictions in place due to the pandemic and we remained “closed.” So, again, the timing was right to take advantage of having an empty house. We called in professionals to have the house deep cleaned and sanitized. In July, we once again welcomed staff, volunteers, and guests back to the house with the peace of mind that our home is clean and COVID-free.

MAINE

VA MAINE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Augusta This year will be remembered for a lot of things, but in Maine, it will forever mark the opening of the state’s first and only Fisher House! Having completed our 150th Anniversary in 2018, the VA Maine Healthcare System was thrilled to accept the keys to this beautiful house and to begin to welcome the many family members and veterans who will 26

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

directly benefit from this generous gift to the state.

WALTER REED FISHER HOUSE AT FOREST GLEN

In February, we were proud to welcome our very first guests. Pictured, left to right, are Tom, Wayne, and Robbie Oliver, and Fisher House Manager Patrick Crowley.

Silver Spring

The Olivers are the first in what we hope becomes a long history of providing a warm and welcoming place for families to stay while overseeing the medical treatment of veterans throughout Maine and across our region.

In 2013, the Fisher House at Forest Glen started a Baby Bag Program, since 70% of our guests are parents of NICU babies. The program aimed to provide support to these parents. To date, we have provided more than 2,500 bags. Our deepest gratitude goes out to our support group from Clifton, Virginia who fund and supply this generous gift of kindness, along with the Fisher House Foundation which provides baby onesies for each bag.

MARYLAND

WALTER REED NATIONAL MILITARY MEDICAL CENTER Bethesda Chris Wertman and Members of Linthecum United Methodist Church continuously assist our Fisher House families any way they can. Chris and the church members have done fundraisers to help keep us stocked with wish list items ranging from paper towels and laundry detergent to batteries and cleaning supplies. Most recently along with the wish list items, they have provided food for our pantries and freezer items for our families.

MICHIGAN

VA ANN ARBOR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Ann Arbor John Whittenburg, House Management Assistant at the VA Ann Arbor Fisher House, was honored and “coined” in early June 2020 by the Fisher House staff and Friends of Fisher House community group, Fisher House Michigan, in honor of his retirement from the United States Army Reserves after 22 years of total combined service. John joined the Michigan Army National Guard in 1998, then the Active Army in 2002 followed


by the Reserves in 2015. During John’s career, he deployed four times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. John spent his career in the medical field starting out as a Combat Medical Specialist and ended his career as a Trauma Nurse. John also spent five years as an Army Recruiter, in which he says has made him the person he is today. “I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every step of my career, though some steps were tougher than others, but I wouldn’t change anything.” John appreciates the Army in giving him the chance to see the world, as John has travelled to 57 countries in his 22 years. Congratulations, John!

presents to brighten his special day. The day turned out to be a Marvelous Birthday for Ben even though he was far from home and here during his dad’s hospitalization.

NORTH CAROLINA

NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER CAMP LEJEUNE Camp Lejeune The NYPD 10-13 Club of Charlotte, NC consists of active and retired law enforcement personnel who have diligently supported the Camp Lejeune Fisher House since 2018. The club has raised money for direct donations, helped facilitate events within the club and the greater Charlotte area, increased awareness of the Fisher House program, and collected needed items for support. 10-13 is the Radio Code Signal for “Assist Police Officer” and the NYPD 10-13 continues to assist the Camp Lejeune Fisher House!

OHIO N E W YO R K

ALBANY STRATTON VA MEDICAL CENTER Albany

NEW MEXICO

RAYMOND G. MURPHY VA MEDICAL CENTER Albuquerque The Albuquerque Fisher House was lucky to have been a part of celebrating the seventh birthday for our youngest guest to date in the house on March 11. Jennifer Holloway and her six-year-old son Ben had hoped they would be home in time to celebrate Ben’s seventh birthday with friends and family, but her husband wasn’t going to be released in time. The Fisher House staff quickly got to work to make sure there were festivities for the day and that the Birthday Boy’s favorite Marvel characters were in attendance. The Friends of New Mexico Fisher House, the local community group that supports the Albuquerque Fisher House, jumped in to help by making sure that Ben had

Here at the Albany Fisher House we would like to thank all our community partners, volunteers, Stratton VAMC staff, Fisher House Foundation staff, past guests, and Jennifer Koget for their ongoing support during the pandemic. We certainly gained strength from your kindness, encouragement, and guidance as we remained available to provide lodging and comfort to the families of our veterans. A recent guest left us with the following uplifting note: “Thank you so much! We felt like home was here instead of being away from home. The staff are truly caring people.”

LOUIS STOKES CLEVELAND VA MEDICAL CENTER Cleveland Thank you to the Greater Cleveland Fisher House Board for a great, socially distanced lunch from Panera Bread to celebrate our one-year anniversary. It’s an honor to welcome families into the two homes built just for them. Here’s to many more years of support and dedication for our nation’s heroes and their families!

Challenging events can often bring out the best in people and we have surely witnessed that in action here. As we move forward, it will be with the confidence of knowing that so many are supporting us.

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

27


HOUSEROUNDUP DAYTON VA MEDICAL CENTER

NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER PORTSMOUTH

Dayton

Portsmouth

Veteran Gary Huston, his daughter-inlaw Amber Huston, and his grandson Eli Huston embrace over Thanksgiving weekend. Gary's wife, three adult sons, and their families all visited the veteran and stayed at Fisher House.

How wonderful to be thought of on days where one is typically the center of the celebration! Such was the case for 11-year-old Fisher Whittaker. Instead of gifts for his birthday, he sent out invitations with a Fisher House wish list asking that everyone attending bring one item off the list. His mom, Lacy Whittaker, stated that he was so concerned that our guests would not have the things needed during the current state of our nation. Thank you, Fisher Whittaker, for your heart of giving, you sharing, and caring. The name Fisher embodies you!!! It's volunteers like this that keeps this program moving. We Heart You!

VIRGINIA

FORT BELVOIR COMMUNITY HOSPITAL Fort Belvoir

TEXAS

BROOKE ARMY MEDICAL CENTER San Antonio Navy Petty Officer Aashis Luitel and his wife, Bivasha Saroj, became residents of the BAMC Fisher house in late 2018 when Aashis was undergoing medical care at Brooke Army Medical Center. During that stay, the couple became close with their Fisher House friends and held their gender reveal party at the house. Now, Aaron Luitel has been born to the proud parents!

28

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

Our canine volunteer Skooby Dew and his family have been American Red Cross volunteers at our Fisher House for over 5 years. Skooby enjoys meeting all our guests and donors. He has embraced his role as spokes-dog and loves Facebook photos. Recently, he and his family posted photos of Skooby demonstrating social distancing, sheltering at home, watching Garrison Town Halls, and taking long walks on a beach while social distancing. Skooby Dew visits our home on Thursday afternoons and our hospital on Friday mornings. Huge thank you to Skooby and his family for loving our Fisher House and our Fisher House families.


HERO MILES HELPS THE VALERA FAMILY BE THERE FOR THEIR SON The Valeras had a memorable 2019 holiday season as the family prepared for one of their sons, a Navy sailor named Michael (Mike), to report to California for four months of training and then a deployment to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76) in Japan. Mike hung out a lot with his parents, Rick and Cathy, and even took his father on a skydiving trip. And so, it was shocking for the Rick and Cathy when they got the call a month later that Mike had collapsed right at the start of his training. Navy doctors weren’t sure yet what had happened, but they suspected either a stroke or a seizure. Rick and Cathy rushed to their son. Cathy flew out within hours of the call while Rick wrapped up loose ends and then joined her. Unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t tell them much more in person. Mike was improving, but he had suffered fractures to his spine, had weakened bones in his spine and skull, and doctors still weren’t sure what had caused his collapse. As the doctors made their plan with Mike, it became clear that a diagnosis could take a while and recovery even longer. Mike’s case manager, Navy Lt. Marissa George, asked the family if they knew about Fisher House. Rick is a Navy veteran and Cathy retired after 21 years in the Navy, but they weren’t familiar with the Fisher House program and were surprised when they first entered the Naval Medical Center San Diego Fisher House.

fragile, and the hunt for an underlying cause was going poorly. Rick and Cathy knew they couldn’t both stay in California the whole time, but the medical staff let them know how important it was to Mike’s morale and improvement that he have familiar faces. So, they resolved to take turns, each of them spending a few weeks in California while the other took care of things in Florida, then switch. Luckily, another Fisher House program was there to help: Hero Miles. Hero Miles accepts frequent flyer miles and donated dollars to purchase tickets for wounded or ill service members and their families for the purposes of medical care. For the Valeras, that meant that they could always have one parent with Mike as he recovered. In June, Mike’s condition was still being investigated. As Rick described, “We’ve eliminated about 60 things it could be.” Luckily, those 60 things eliminated include the most dangerous prospects. While Mike is eager for a diagnosis, it’s likely that he can eventually make a full recovery. Until then, Fisher House will work to keep the family together, because a family’s love is good medicine.

fisherhouse.org/heromiles

“They’re like a warm blanket,” Rick said of the Fisher House. “You know, it was an amazing experience with them.” The family worked with Lt. George and Fisher House as they received updates from the doctors. Mike felt fine, but some of his bones were still

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

29


OPENING IN A PANDEMIC:

VA ANN ARBOR FISHER HOUSE GREETS FIRST GUESTS Story by David Nye

Despite limitations on travel and hospital visitation enacted due to pandemic safety concerns, the Fisher House at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System opened on June 1 and quickly began hosting guests, greeting 114 in its first month of operation. The formal dedication ceremony for the house was delayed, but April LaRock, Fisher House manager, said it was nice to be able to focus on opening the house and starting operations.

“It’s been really great to get the response we’ve received from our medical providers in the hospital who are starting to refer guests, and it is keeping us busy,” she said. For the first month, the staff did the heavy lifting because volunteers have been restricted due to COVID-19 precautions. But April was quick to point out that the volunteers and partners made an impact anyway.

“We’ve already recruited regular, standing “We serve a lot of veterans that come from all volunteers that we’re going to be working over the state of Michigan as well as outside with on a weekly basis,” she said. “While their of Michigan. So even in this first month alone, activities were limited, the volunteers have we’ve served families from Michigan, Ohio, been making grocery runs to allow guests to Indiana, and Colorado whose veterans come focus on their family members.” to Ann Arbor for the specialty care we provide,” April said. “Our Friends of Fisher House community group, Fisher House Michigan, has been “All of our housekeeping staff started working absolutely phenomenal, super supportive, and at the Fisher House the week before we opened just done an amazing job at getting us what we and they did a great job helping our team get need,” she said. the house ready for our first guests,” she said. April and her staff are still working to get more While opening was a challenge, the staff at guests into the house, but their success so the Ann Arbor Fisher House quickly made an far has led to some families scheduling their impact on its guests. medical care up to four months out, looking forward to staying again at the Fisher House. Fisher Houses are built to last for decades, so “Just speaking to some of the spouses that I’ve expect more great news out of Ann Arbor in reached out to, or they’ve reached out to me, the coming years. asking about lodging availability in the Fisher House, you can hear the relief in their voice,” April explained. “You know, it’s one less thing Fisher Houses have also opened in Omaha, that they have to worry about, and they can Nebraska; Richmond, Virginia; and New Orleans, be right there, on the campus of the medical Louisiana. A replacement house opened in center, close to their loved ones.” Denver, Colorado. Those positive reviews from families are making it to medical providers, and they are helping other potential guests know that Fisher House is an option.

30

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


OPENINGS & GROUNDBREAKINGS:

N e b r a sk

a, N E

• OMAHA FISHER HOUSE • NEW ORLEANS FISHER HOUSE • DENVER FISHER HOUSE • KANSAS CITY FISHER HOUSE OPENING Omaha Fisher House VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System opened the first Fisher House in the state in July. The 14,000+ square foot Omaha Fisher House features 16 suites and supports veterans in Iowa and Nebraska. New Orleans Fisher House The 90th Fisher House opened its doors in New Orleans in September. The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System’s new Fisher House is steps away from the medical center and can accommodate up to 16 families on any given night. Denver Fisher House

N ew Or le a n s, L A

The new, 16-suite Denver Fisher House opened in July. The replacement house is nearly twice as large as its predecessor and a short walk from the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center that it serves.

GROUNDBREAKING Kansas City Fisher House

FPO

Construction began in July in Kansas City, MO on the new Kansas City VA Medical Center Fisher House. The 16-suite house will give families from around the Midwest a place to stay while their loved ones receive care at the VA medical center.

Kansas City, MO De nver, CO

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

31


FISHER HOUSE DIRECTORY

DOWN

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

ARIZONA

FLORIDA

CALIFORNIA Camp Pendleton MCI WEST – Fisher House BLDG 2014 San Jacinto Rd. Camp Pendleton, CA 92055 (760) 763-5308 Manager: Vicky Powell-Johnson victoria.powell-john@usmc.mil

or under construction:

Huntington, WV Kansas City VA Medical Center

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington DC VA Medical Center 50 Irving St. NW Washington, DC 20422 (202) 745-2482 Manager: Stacey Childs stacey.childs@va.gov

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System 3601 S. 6th Ave. (9-135FH) Tucson, AZ 85723 (520) 838-3680 Manager: Kelly Laurich arizona.fisherhouse@va.gov

The following projects are currently in design

Huntington VA Medical Center

ALASKA JBER Hospital 4943 Zeamer Ave. JBER, AK 99506 (907) 222-1673 Manager: Jenny Hall jennifer.hall.24@us.af.mil

Naval Medical Center San Diego 34800 Bob Wilson Dr., Bldg. 46 San Diego, CA 92134-5000 (619) 532-9055 fax: (619) 532-5216 Manager: Lori Erickson lorene.l.erickson.naf@mail.mil

Kansas City, MO

David Grant USAF Medical Center 100 Bodin Cir., BLDG 792 Travis AFB, CA 94535-1804 (707) 423-7550 fax: (707) 423-7552 Manager: Ivana Jordovic ivana.jordovic@us.af.mil

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Bay Pines, FL Columbia VA Health Care System Columbia, SC Lexington VA Health Care System Lexington, KY

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (10AF) Bldg. 523 Los Angeles, CA 90073 (310) 268-4457 fax: (310) 268-3499 Manager: Erma Mickens erma.mickens@va.gov VA Long Beach Healthcare System 5901 East 7th St. Long Beach, CA 90822 (562) 826-5905 Manager: Eddie Gibbs eddie.gibbs@va.gov VA Palo Alto Health Care System 3801 Miranda Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94304 (650) 493-5000 x. 60384 fax: (650) 849-1269 Manager: Tracy Marino tracy.marino@va.gov

COLORADO VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System 1700 N. Wheeling St., Bldg R Aurora, CO 80045 (720) 723-7689 Manager: Khristie Barker khristie.barker@va.gov

CONNECTICUT VA Connecticut Healthcare System 950 Campbell Ave. Mail Code 135 West Haven, CT 06516 (203) 937-3438 Manager: Amanda Salthouse amanda.salthouse@va.gov

DELAWARE Fisher House for Families of the Fallen 116 Purple Heart Dr. Dover AFB, DE 19902 (302) 922-1900 Manager: TSgt Michelle Johnson michelle.johnson.15@us.af.mil

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. Bay Pines, FL 33744 (727) 398-6661 x11350 fax: (727) 319-1106 Manager: Shentrela Diggins shentrela.diggins@va.gov Eglin Air Force Base Hospital 350 Boatner Rd. Eglin AFB, FL 32542 (850) 883-2865 Manager: Marc Ambrose marc.ambrose@us.af.mil James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33612 (813) 910-3000 fax: (813) 910-3088 Manager: Sean Kelly sean.kelly2@va.gov Miami VA Healthcare System 1201 NW 16th St. Miami, FL 33125 (305) 575-7260 fax: (305) 575-7261 Manager: Richie Sanchez lerrichiad.sanchez@va.gov North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System 1601 SW Archer Rd. Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 548-6492 Manager: Michelle Howard kimberly.howard@va.gov Orlando VA Medical Center 13800 Veterans Way Orlando, FL 32827 (407) 631-9800 Manager: Terri Turner teresa.turner2@va.gov West Palm Beach VA Medical Center 7305 N. Military Trail W. Palm Beach, FL 33410 (561) 422-5554 fax: (561) 442-8793 Manager: Shelley Prickett shelley.prickett2@va.gov

GEORGIA Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center One Freedom Way Augusta, GA 30904 (706) 729-5773 Manager: Courtney Deese courtney.deese@va.gov Fort Gordon Fisher House at Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fisher House Rd.- Bldg. 280 Fort Gordon, GA 30905-5650 (706) 787-7100 fax: (706) 787-5106 Manager: Francisco Cruz fheamc@aol.com

HAWAII Tripler Fisher House at Tripler Army Medical Center 317 Krukowski Rd. Honolulu, HI 96819 (808) 433-1291 x. 28 fax: (808) 433-3619 Manager: Misty Hironaka misty.n.hironaka.naf@mail.mil

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

32

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020


*Please direct all correspondence to ATTN: Fisher House, along with the address. For any questions, please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location.

KENTUCKY

MISSOURI

Fort Campbell Fisher House at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital 652 Joel Dr. Fort Campbell, KY 42223 (270) 798-8330 fax: (270) 798-8804 Manager: Wendy J. Carlston wendy.j.carlston.naf@mail.mil

VA St. Louis Health Care System 1 Jefferson Barracks Rd. St. Louis, MO 63125 (314) 894-6145 fax: (314) 894-6147 Manager: Vanniecia Brown vanniecia.brown@va.gov

LOUISIANA

NEBRASKA

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System 2400 Canal St. New Orleans, LA 70119 (504) 507-2000 x 67331 Manager: Debra Ceaser-Winbush debra.ceaser-winbush@va.gov

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System 4101 Woolworth Ave. Omaha, NE 68105 (402) 995-5714 Manager: Colleen Vonderhaar colleen.vonderhaar@va.gov

MAINE

NEVADA

VA Maine Healthcare System 1 VA Center (Fisher House) Augusta, ME 04330 (207) 623-8411 Manager: Patrick Crowley patrick.crowley@va.gov

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System 6900 N. Pecos Rd. North Las Vegas, NV 89086 (702) 224-6789 Manager: Cadie Franco cadie.franco@va.gov

MARYLAND Malcolm Grow Clinics & Surgery Center 1076 West Perimeter Rd. Andrews AFB, MD 20762 (301) 981-1243 fax: (301) 981-7629 Manager: Veronica Harris jbafhmanager@gmail.com Walter Reed National Military Medical Center 24 Stokes Rd. Bethesda, MD 20814-5002 (301) 295-5334 fax: (301) 295-5632 Manager: Michael Ybarra mybarra@fisherhousebethesda.org

NEW MEXICO Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center 1501 San Pedro Dr. SE, Bldg. 85 Albuquerque, NM 87108 (505) 265-1711 x3180 Manager: Christina Ramirez christina.ramirez2@va.gov

NEW YORK Albany Stratton VA Medical Center 113 Holland Ave. Albany, NY 12208 (518) 626-6919 fax: (518) 626-5452 Manager: Michael Fitzpatrick michael.fitzpatrick3@va.gov

Walter Reed Fisher House at Forest Glen 2460 Linden Ln., Bldg. 173 Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301) 319-5442 fax: (301) 328-5618 Manager: Maurice Borde wrafh.fg1@gmail.com

James J. Peters VA Medical Center 130 West Kingsbridge Rd. Bronx, NY 10468 (718) 584-9000 x. 2037 or x. 2039 Manager: Ellen Trbovich ellen.trbovich@va.gov

MASSACHUSETTS

NORTH CAROLINA

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

MICHIGAN

Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune 4 Recovery Way Camp Lejeune, NC 28547 (910) 450-3885 fax: (910) 450-3887 Manager: Josie Cotton josephine.cotton@usmc.mil

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System 2215 Fuller Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105 (734) 845-3055 Manager: April LaRock april.larock@va.gov

Fort Bragg Fisher House at Womack Army Medical Center 3120 Loop Rd., PO Box 70006 Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000 (910) 849-3466 Manager: Vivian Wilson vivian.l.wilson.naf@mail.mil

MINNESOTA

OHIO

Minneapolis VA Health Care System 1 Veterans Dr. Minneapolis, MN 55417 (612) 467-5602 fax: (612) 970-5864 Manager: David Mason david.mason@va.gov

Cincinnati VA Medical Center 3200 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45220 (513) 475-6571 fax: (513) 487-6661 Manager: Karrie Hagan karrie.hagan@va.gov

MISSISSIPPI Keesler Medical Center 509 Fisher St. Keesler AFB, MS 39534-2599 (228) 377-8264 fax: (228) 377-7691 Manager: Larry Vetter larry.vetter.1@us.af.mil

Dayton VA Medical Center Fisher House, Bldg. 425 Dayton, OH 45428 (937) 268-6511 x. 2887 Manager: Betsey Striebel betsey.striebel@va.gov Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center 10521 Lee Ave. Cleveland, Ohio 44106 (216) 707-4800 x. 67705 Manager: Tyler Estell tyler.estell@va.gov

Wright-Patterson Medical Center 417 Schlatter Dr. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433 (937) 257-0855 fax: (937) 656-2150 Manager: Karen Healea karen.s.healea.naf@mail.mil

OREGON VA Portland Health Care System 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 (360) 567-4647 Manager: Kelly Konikow kelly.konikow@va.gov

PENNSYLVANIA VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System University Dr. C, Bldg 33 Pittsburgh, PA 15240 (412) 360-2030 Manager: Heather Frantz heather.frantz@va.gov

SOUTH CAROLINA Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center 150 Wentworth St. Charleston, SC 29401 (843) 805-8200 Manager: Vicki Johnson vicki.johnson@va.gov

TENNESSEE Tennessee Valley Healthcare System 3400 Lebanon Pike Murfreesboro, TN 37129 (615) 225-5758 Manager: Becky Wood rebecca.wood4@va.gov

TEXAS

Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center - San Antonio Military Medical Center 1445 Foster Ave. Bldg 3865 Lackland AFB, TX 78236 (210) 671-6037 fax: (210) 671-6020 Manager: Brittany Strout brittany.strout@us.af.mil

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

VIRGINIA Fort Belvoir Fisher House at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital 9201 Woodbury Rd. Fort Belvoir, VA 22060 (703) 805-5203 Manager: Roxannamaria Calderon belvoirfisherhouse@gmail.com Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center 1201 Broad Rock Blvd. Richmond, VA 23249 (804) 675-6639 fax: (804) 675-5979 Manager: Wayne Walker wayne.walker@va.gov Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth 853 Fisher Dr., Bldg. 287 Portsmouth, VA 23708 (757) 953-6889 fax: (757) 953-7174 Manager: Jill Thompson jill.thompson@portsmouthfisherhouse.org

Fort Bliss Fisher House at William Beaumont Army Medical Center Bldg 7360 Rodriguez St. El Paso, TX 79930 (915) 742-1860 fax: (915) 569-1862 Manager: Alice Coleman alice.m.coleman2.naf@mail.mil Fort Hood Fisher House at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Bldg. 36015 Fisher Ln. Fort Hood, TX 78254 (254) 220-6985 fax: (254) 286-7929 Manager: Steve Wakefield steven.h.wakefield.naf@mail.mil Joint Base San Antonio Fisher House at Brooke Army Medical Center 3623 George C. Beach Rd. JBSA Ft. Sam Houston, TX 78234 (210) 916-6000 fax: (210) 916-6488 Manager: Inge Godfrey fhbamc@aol.com Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX 77030 (713) 794-7766 fax: (713) 794-7194 Manager: Frank Kelley frank.kelley@va.gov VA North Texas Health Care System 4500 S. Lancaster Rd., Bldg. 79 Dallas, TX 75216 (214) 857-4400 fax: (214) 462-4923 Manager: Lydia Henderson lydia.henderson1@va.gov South Texas Veterans Health Care System 7485 Wurzbach Rd. San Antonio, Texas 78229 (210) 617-5542 fax: (210) 593-0902 Manager: Erik Zielinski erik.zielinski@va.gov

WASHINGTON Joint Base Lewis-McChord at Madigan Army Medical Center 90700 Gardener Loop Tacoma, WA 98431 (253) 964-9283 fax: (253) 968-3619 Manager: Pamela Barrington manager@fisherhouse-jblm.org VA Puget Sound Health Care System 1660 South Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 (206) 277-3950 fax: (206) 277-1415 Manager: Christopher Spaulding christopher.spaulding@va.gov

WISCONSIN Zablocki VA Medical Center 5000 W. National Ave., Bldg. 150 Milwaukee, WI 53295 (414) 384-2000 x. 45005 or 45006 Manager: Jennifer Kiefer jennifer.kiefer@va.gov

GERMANY Landstuhl Fisher House at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Unit 33100 Attn: Fisher House APO, AE 09180 011-49-6371-9464-7430 fax: 011-49-6371-866679 Manager: Sarafina Buchanan sarafina.n.buchanan.naf@mail.mil

UNITED KINGDOM Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Mindelsohn Way Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham B15 2TH 0121-472-6217 fax: 0121-41306897 Manager: Patrick Hogan fisherhouse@uhb.nhs.uk

THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 11 • ISSUE 2 • 2020

33


Fisher House Foundation, Inc. 12300 Twinbrook Parkway Suite 410 Rockville, MD 20852

a home away from home

For more than 30 years, the Fisher House program has helped families stay with loved ones receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers, because we believe “A family’s love is good medicine.” These homes provide free, temporary lodging to military and veterans’ families so they can be close to their loved ones during medical crises.

CFC CODE: 11453

Since 1990: 400,000 families served | $500 million in savings | 10 million nights of lodging

90 FISHER HOUSES*

★ ★(2) ★

★(2) ★

★ ★(2)

★(2) ★

★(2) ★(2)

★ ★★ ★ ★(2) ★

(5)★★

★★(2) ★ ★

★ ★

★ ★ ★ ★(2)

★★

★Birmingham, UK

★ ★

★(2)

★(2)

★(4) (3)★★

★(3)

★(2) ★

★ ★ ★★(2) ★ ★

★(2)

Landstuhl, Germany

= existing houses = houses under construction Numbers in parentheses indicate multiple houses at one location.

* As of Oct. 1, 2020

www.fisherhouse.org | (888) 294-8560

Profile for Fisher House Foundation

The Patriot Magazine Volume 11 Issue 2  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded