The Patriot Volume 12, Issue 1

Page 1

2021 VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 1


How military adaptive athletes train during COVID

(Story featured on page 8)

Teen donates Bat Mitzvah to Fisher House

(Story featured on page 20)

Three Wise Men: A family's story of service and sacrifice (Story featured on page 10)



Fort Hood Hero

welcomes son, reflects on Fisher House COVER STORY (Featured on page 16)

Contents Social Media Support

About Fisher House Foundation, Inc.


Henry M. Jackson Foundation Donation 3 Guest Family­Profile: The Gaspar Family


Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal


Meet the Staff


Adaptive Athletes Train Hard for Invictus Despite COVID Restrictions


Three Wise Men: One Family's Story of Service and Sacrifice


Fisher House Founders Sketched Cartoon


AFW2 Caregivers Share How They Collectively Heal During Virtual Panel 12 Meet the Staff


Fisher House Salutes


Newman's Own 2020 Award Recipients


Cover Story: Hero of Fort Hood Shooting Reflects on Fisher House Support


Community Groups in Action


Hearts in the Community


Journal Entries & Letters


Hotels for Heroes


A 25-Year Update


Construction Updates


Our Fisher House Journey


House Round Up


First Guests at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center Look Back


Location Guide


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 veteran families an estimated $525 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 $525 Million 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 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:

Savings for families in lodging and transportation costs

10 Million Nights of lodging offered

413,000 Families served

91Fisher 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. Cover Photo: Cover photo courtesy U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony White.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

LETTER FROM KEN FISHER Dear Friends, The work we do together at Fisher House Foundation has been a source of strength and hope over the past year when good news was hard to find. I was encouraged when I learned about communities and individuals finding ways to work around the difficulties of the pandemic to safely support military and veteran families who still needed our help, and I was warmed by stories of managers at Fisher Houses who were able to be there for guests when they needed a friend. As I reflect on all that we have been through and remember those who have been so grievously affected, I am proud of what we’ve overcome together. But now is the time to look forward. Thanks to you, at Fisher House Foundation, we have much to look forward to. We are looking forward to breaking ground on three more houses and finishing the Kansas City Fisher House. We are looking forward to supporting athletes and their families at the Warrior Games in the fall. But, most importantly, we are looking forward to hugging our friends and family as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and we all start to get healthy again on so many levels. In this issue of the Patriot Magazine, you will see the strength of our guests, supporters, and staff. You will see the importance of honoring the sacrifices made for our country. And you will see that a Family’s Love is Good Medicine. Thank you for your unwavering support and dedication to our greatest national treasure, our military men and women 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. Fisher House Foundation received an A+ from CharityWatch in its veterans and military category. Only two military and veteran charities currently hold this distinctive A+ rating. Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation its coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management for the 17th 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 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.






4-Year-Old Bakes for Fisher House Cleveland native Mariah Morning is just 4 years old and launched her own baked goods business. With the help of her mom, Angela Tatum-Morning, she has started Mariah's Munchies to turn a passion for cooking into a small company. She's even shared with her local Fisher House, donating goodies from her launch event to the Greater Cleveland VA Fisher House. Read more:

FACEBOOK “Loving my Fisher family!!! God bless you all!!!” — C. Chinski “I stayed in a Fisher House in Gainesville, FL for 2 wks after a friend’s back surgery. It was such a blessing. I felt safe, there were friendships formed & comfort from others staying there. We were assigned lockers for dry foods, bins for the fridge to keep cold items, making it convenient for our own foods and less expensive. Plus, community groups brought in meals every so often, and another group furnished pizza. With all the stress of love ones being in the hospital, the Fisher House provided comfort and safety, reducing the stress.” — B. Miles “The services that you provide are truly amazing and help in so many ways! I’m so delighted to see how much you have expanded and grown through the years since the beginning days. Thanks so very much for helping so many throughout the years. We are truly blessed to have your organization available to those in need during difficult times! ” — P. Koehler

INSTAGRAM Fisher House Charleston SC was a wonderful place for us during my late husband’s battle with cancer. For seven weeks it was our home, never have we felt more at home. Danny made himself at home, fixing grits, bacon and eggs for all who wanted breakfast as early as he had to go for treatment. Feeling needed is what helped him fight his battle to the end. Love to all at Fisher House Charleston and Thanks for everything. — @aliceturner1541



Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the

TWITTER In 2017, @FisherHouseFdtn provided a tremendous service to my family in a time of crisis. We will never forget the warmth and compassion shown to take one less expense/worry off our plates while caring for my dad so far from home. Thanks @ NorthRisk for making a donation today! — @coty_nicole This is a great, and important, charity — it gives the families of wounded veterans a place to stay near their loved ones while they are recovering. As someone who has had to travel for a loved one's medical treatment, I can't tell you how much this means. — @dunnclan

Advancement of Military Medicine

Just like the long-lasting friendships formed in the kitchens of Fisher Houses, Fisher House Foundation has long-lasting relationships with other nonprofits that support our nation’s heroes. The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine has been a partner for many years. When Fisher House Foundation was first established, HJF provided office space and administrative support. Over the years, members of their staff have volunteered at Fisher House. And just last year, HJF donated nearly $50,000 to support warfighters and their families throughout the network of Fisher Houses. Each year, Fisher House Foundation helps support the HJF annual Heroes of Military Medicine program.

Happy New Year @FisherHouseFdtn Thanks for all you do for our Service Members and their families! #FisherHouse #NeverForget — @WRdSmitty Congratulations to the @FisherHouseFdtn for its progress in the face of the #pandemic! Though #healthcare and the need to have #military and #veteran #families close during #treatment has not slowed, other facets of #nonprofits have, so applaud these successes! #howdoyouserve — @will_reynolds

Photo below by: U.S. Army Capt. Travis Muelle The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Don’t forget to connect with us on all of our social media sites.




Around-the-world cancer fight lands Air Force family in Fisher House Story and photos by Michelle Baldanza

In late summer 2019, the Gaspar Family was in for big changes. The Air Force family of five had been reassigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan where Maj. Ian Gaspar would serve as a pharmacist. Throughout the fall, Ian, his wife, Kimberly, their two teenagers, Cydney and Noah, and toddler, Gwyndolyn, settled into their new home. Kimberly felt worn out but attributed this to the stress of the move. By November, however, things had gotten worse. She was starting to get clumsy, she was forgetful, and she even fell. At this point, they knew it was more than fatigue. The initial diagnosis was multiple sclerosis, but an MRI confirmed it was actually a very rare brain tumor. The neurosurgeon they met with recommended treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, WRNMMC, where Kimberly could receive not only the surgery she needed, but also the longer-term support for recovery. They received this diagnosis on December 20. Things began happening very quickly. The family of five packed two suitcases each and traveled to Bethesda, Maryland, where they were welcomed into the Bethesda Fisher House. On January 10, Kimberly and Ian met with her new neurosurgeon at WRNMMC and in early February, she underwent an extensive two-day surgery to remove the tumor. Then the long recovery process finally began during which she would receive 30 radiation therapy treatments to reach what couldn’t be removed during surgery. “Being here at the Fisher House was great because we could just walk to the hospital.” said Ian. “She had multiple appointments every week with physical training, speech therapy, and working on her vestibular and cognitive abilities.”



Coping during COVID-19 When the Gaspar Family left Japan, they knew that traditional school wasn’t an option for the next year. Cydney and Noah were already doing distance learning when schools shut down because of COVID-19 and the rest of America followed suit. Ian also explained that the staff was very helpful with explaining the precautions put in place as COVID-19 spread throughout the country. “We really appreciate the openness and the way everything was handled. It made us feel comfortable,” he said. “Before this experience we heard of the Fisher House but didn’t really know how large an organization it was. But since, we will never forget the impact the Foundation had during a significant part of our life,” said Ian. “Though we were given much support from many different contributors, the Fisher House played a significant part, one that we feel we may never be able to repay. It has a safe, warm, supportive, and communal household where we could keep our family intact and persevere, while my wife received her much-needed care at the hospital which was a few minutes' walk away. For that we will always be grateful for the support given by the Fisher House Foundation.”

The prognosis is good, but doctors anticipate Kimberly will continue to need care for two to three years as she recovers. The Air Force granted a request for reassignment to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, allowing them to be close to family in Indiana and the top-rated neurosurgery department at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The Gaspars relocated to their new assignment at the end of July, finally getting to settle into a home after a year of unknowns.

Left Photo: The Gaspar Family sits on the stairs of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Fisher House in 2020 where they were staying as Kimberly went through treatment. Top Right Photo: Gwyndolyn Gaspar plays on the entrance mat. She stayed at Fisher House with her family. Middle Photo: Ian, Kimberly, and Gwyndolyn Gaspar outside the Fisher House. Bottom Right Photo: Gwyndolyn and Noah Gaspar play together. All photos were taken outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with care to abide by CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.



PEACE of Mind and a Place to HEAL Story by Michelle Baldanza Photo by Leanila Baptiste Photography

In 2007, while deployed in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Maj. Christopher Glover, a military police officer, was shot while working to open a new prison facility. He was medically evacuated through Landstuhl, Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. “That was probably one of the hardest things. During one of the most traumatic times in my husband’s life, I wasn't able to be by his side for the first week,” said Christopher’s wife, Yvonne. “You have to rely on speaking to strangers on the phone from afar.” Yvonne, her mother-in-law, and Christopher’s cousin drove to San Antonio from Louisiana where Yvonne lived at the time. “It was important for us to be there when he arrived. And so we did, and we were there when they landed and then we had this journey, this unknown journey, that we started off on.” At that time, Yvonne had shifted her career from corporate work and was working to help National Guard units and individuals returning from deployment. Because of this, she had awareness of a lot of military programs, but she never thought she would have to take advantage of those resources. “The great thing about Fisher House is that it was nearby, and we were fortunate to be able to get a room,” she said. Christopher switched to outpatient care early on during his recovery because it provided a greater sense of control over the situation. 6


Yvonne helped dress his wounds, and she was comforted knowing that if something did go wrong, they were very close to the hospital. Christopher was originally due to return from Afghanistan just a month after his injury. Their family was scheduled to move to a new duty station, and their children were finishing school. All these issues weighed on Yvonne, but Fisher House gave her a break from worrying and allowed her to be there for her husband.

“ There was this sense of “There was this sense of peace I felt we peace I felt we had at had at Fisher House because of the Fisher House because of community environment.” the community environment.” “They had luxury-brand kitchen appliances and wonderfully decorated living areas; a perfect backdrop for camaraderie and good conversation with other people that were there,” she explained. “When there were so many unknown things, it gave you peace.” Yvonne recalled conversations with a young service member’s dad who was staying at the Fisher House to care for his wounded son and the dad having to leave because his mom had suffered a heart attack back home. She remembered how families came together, and that there was an opportunity for healing through conversations with people who may have been in a similar situation. After two weeks, they felt confident they could return home. There was a high demand for rooms at Fisher House, so they wanted to give the space to another family. They also

recognized the need to get back to their regular life. “I could see the service members were trying to rush to get back to whatever was normal. I felt it as well,” she explained. “Like if I can rush and get back to whatever this sense of normalcy is, then I can have some control over a situation that I probably didn’t have control over.” Christopher remained on active duty and retired in 2015. He continues to serve as a civilian working for the government. Yvonne supported the caregiver community through her work by giving to the Fisher House, sometimes through fundraisers within her office. She also helped support the development of the recovery care coordinator program for the Secretary of Defense saying that her experience with Fisher House helped shape the work she did to help military families. “Fisher House was an escape close by where I could quickly cook a meal,” said Yvonne. “I saw families who had been there much longer. They became friends and would cook a meal together. Fisher House provided these escapes. I would say that probably stands out to me more than I realized.” “There's so much more beyond those basic needs that I don't think people realize in a time of trauma, whether it's illness that you're dealing with or something traumatic from the war, you don't realize the things that you need that make a difference in that recovery. And I believe that's where Fisher House differentiates itself from just the regular hotel.”

MEET THE STAFF 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.

Irnaliz Aquino

Manager of Human Resources

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“I think that's one of the things that I love to do at Fisher House, just going out and being able, not only to do my job, but to help and assist others,” said Irnaliz. "I think Warrior Games is one of the most inspiring events and opportunities that I have been able to be a part of, honestly. It's something that I can bring back and let others know of the amazing things that people can do and what we can do to help others as well.” Fisher House Foundation Manager of Human Resources, Irnaliz Aquino has an immense appreciation for the military and military families. Her father and grandfather were in the military, and her brother continues to serve. Irnaliz grew up near a military base at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, where she participated in many activities on the military installation including JROTC. Now, as a mother of two, she understands the challenges military families face and is proud of the role she plays in supporting them. Irnaliz holds a bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management and, in her position at Fisher House Foundation, is responsible for the management and coordination of the HR Department. She ensures the daily operational activities of the Foundation run smoothly and efficiently, and the Foundation staff are taken care of so they can focus on their responsibilities. She began her work with Fisher House almost five years ago, but her connection reaches back to the 1990’s when her grandfather received treatment for cancer at Walter Reed. Her father and aunt stayed in one of the first Fisher Houses in Bethesda, Maryland.

When Irnaliz learned that a Fisher House was requested near her home in Puerto Rico, she immediately volunteered to be part of the planning team. She has already used her bilingual skills during an initial trip to the island in 2019. The Puerto Rico Fisher House is still a couple of years away from being built, but once it is operational, it will support the Veterans Affairs Caribbean Health Care System in San Juan. This healthcare system supports more than 150,000 veterans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is the only one of its type in the Caribbean. “Having a Fisher House in Puerto Rico will mean so much to the vast veteran population and their families located in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she said. “This will certainly bring joy and hope for families to be able to be together with their loved ones while they are receiving medical care which they need so much. I am honored to be part of this Fisher House project and I couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful opportunity that will provide help and support for our military veterans in my beautiful Puerto Rico!”

One of Irnaliz’s favorite events to help with is the family program for Warrior Games. She has assisted with the planning of the welcome night and other events for two Warrior Games. The first was in 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the second in 2019 in Tampa Bay, Florida. She is looking forward to helping at the next Warrior Games this fall. She is always willing to lend a hand outside of her regular work because it makes her feel even more connected to service members, veterans, and their families.



ADAPTIVE ATHLETES TRAIN HARD FOR INVICTUS DESPITE COVID RESTRICTIONS Story by Christy Wilcox Photos courtesy Travis Dunn, Fisher House Foundation, and the Department of Defense

Travis Dunn has a full schedule when it comes to his weekly workout routine. Three days a week, Travis and his wife, Kelley, head to local basketball courts. It helps him prepare for the Invictus Games competition by shooting layups, talking defense strategies, and scrimmaging with others in his hometown of Tampa, Florida. As a paraplegic, Travis will also participate in two other adaptive sports during the games — track and wheelchair rugby. He says his shoulders have gotten a break from the intensity of track in recent months, but soon he will alternate days between sports. "It's another level of competition I am going to be around and compete with," Travis said. Since 2014, the Invictus Games have brought 500 wounded warriors from all over the world to compete against each other. The global pandemic delayed the games last year. Travis says the extra time has helped him grow his skill set because he spends time with other athletes who have been training longer, but he says he is fortunate. Besides the cancelation of a few yearly sporting events, he has only had to make a few adjustments. Other athletes have faced stricter lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic. Travis' journey has not been simple. His career shows his willingness to take on challenges. Serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, he deployed seven times in his nearly ten-year career. His physical fitness was a top priority because, as he puts it, "guys' lives depend on you." Travis credits his unit for saving his life in December 2014. He was in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, on a mission with his unit when a bullet hit him. It collapsed both his lungs and impacted his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed. His brother-in-law, another Ranger in his unit, flew with him to the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Travis was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In the weeks after, Travis received medical treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Fisher House Foundation flew three of his family members The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.



to be by his side through the Hero Miles program. Travis and his wife Kelley then traveled to the level-one VA polytrauma medical center in Palo Alto, California, where he received specialized treatment for his injury. Kelley says she could see his hospital room from her bedroom at Fisher House. She said having the support around her was comforting because the situation had its complexities. While Travis was learning how to use his wheelchair brakes, Kelley had to have handicapaccessible ramps and a new bathroom installed in their home. Having home-cooked meals, fresh coffee, and a good night's sleep at Fisher House helped her destress when she needed it most. About a year after Travis's injury, he started looking into wheelchair track, weightlifting, and other adaptive sports. He says it took time to learn what he could still do and at what level he could compete. In 2018, Travis said his unit's strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist kept him active. The Warrior Games in Tampa was his first competition. As a result of his Warrior Games participation, Travis learned he would compete in the 2020 Invictus Games. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed his involvement last year and again in 2021, but he looks forward to the day he gets to see other athletes face-to-face.

Top Left: Team SOCOM Army Staff Sgt. Travis Dunn plays with his daughter Sadie Dunn during 2019 DoD Warrior Games. Top Right: Travis visits with family before competing in track at Warrior Games. Bottom Center: Travis Dunn and his wife, Kelley, join together as he recovers from his injuries. Center Right: Gen. Daniel B. Allyn presents Travis with the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Purple Heart.

"You don't train to lose. You train to win," Travis says. Looking back, he says the Ranger battalion prepared him as an athlete because he understands the physical aspects of what his body needs to rest and recover, a vast difference from his military training, which limited sleep and kept his schedule inconsistent. The Invictus Games Foundation has found virtual solutions for athletes and other wounded warriors.



Three Wise Men:

One Family’s Story of Service and Sacrifice Story by Michelle Baldanza Photos provided by the Wise Family

Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware has a unique and particularly tough mission in our military. It is home to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, whose mission is to care for the remains of those from all military branches who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country and to return those remains to their families. It is almost unthinkable a family might have to travel to Dover Air Force Base to greet a fallen service member more than once, but the Wise family had to do just that after two of their three sons gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. The Wise family, from Eldorado, Arkansas, is the embodiment of service and sacrifice. Dr. Jean and Mary Wise raised their four children as true patriots, sharing stories of family members who had served in our nation’s military. Because of this sense of duty instilled by their parents, all three sons chose to enter the military, but as with many families, children can take very different paths. In the Wise family, all three boys chose different branches of the military, but their shared passion and dedication pushed them to the most elite units. Eldest son Jeremy had decided very early on that he would become a Navy SEAL, but events took him in another direction. Jeremy was in his second year of medical school on Sept. 11, 2001 when he decided to pursue his original dream of becoming a SEAL. He enlisted in the Navy in January 2002 and graduated Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training in April 2004. In August 2009, after three deployments to Iraq, Jeremy left service and became a government contractor supporting the Central Intelligence Agency.



Just a few months later, on Dec. 30, 2009, Jeremy was killed in a suicide bombing that took the lives of seven CIA officials including two private contractors along with two foreign intelligence officers. The family suffered the second blow a little over two years later on Jan. 9, 2012 when their middle son’s unit was attacked with smallarms fire in Balkh Province, Afghanistan. Ben was medically evacuated to Landstuhl where he succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 15. A sergeant first class assigned to 1st Special Forces Group, he had made it through two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, surviving several firefights along with his vehicle hitting an improvised explosive device before the fourth and final deployment. Jeremy is survived by his wife, Dana, and son, Ethan. Ben is survived by his wife, Traci, and three children, Luke, Ryan, and Kailen. Youngest son, Beau, a Marine who also served in Afghanistan, is considered the only declared “Sole Survivor” during the war in Afghanistan. He recounts his family’s heroic story in his book, Three Wise Men, which was published this January. In his book, cowritten with Tom Sileo, Beau talks about how he could continue on after so much loss. He recalls the support his family received, saying his parents were “treated like royalty by the Fisher House staff, along with employees of the USO and other compassionate charities.” Beau and his parents were guests of the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen at Dover Air Force Base when Jeremy’s remains were repatriated. He and Ben’s wife, Traci, stayed at the Landstuhl Fisher House and then the Dover Fisher House when Ben was returned home.

Left Page Photos: (Left Photo) Ben and Beau pay their respects to Jeremy on Jan. 7, 2010. (Right Photo) Ben in Afghanistan in 2012. Photo Above: Jeremy, Jean, Ben, Beau, Mary and Heather at their home in Hope, Arkansas.

“Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base and then in Germany made life so much less stressful in the darkest times,” said Beau. “I am so grateful to everyone that was there for me, Traci, my mother, and father,” he said. “Having to grab an overnight bag and go with virtually no time to prepare. We were given food, winter clothes, and a place to stay directly across the street from Landstuhl hospital, so that we didn't have to worry about anything except being there for Ben. Fisher House will forever hold a very dear place in my heart. God bless Fisher House for all you do for veterans and their families.” Both the Landstuhl Fisher Houses and The Fisher House for Families of the Fallen played very important roles in helping the families of severely wounded and fallen service members throughout the last 20 years. The first Landstuhl Fisher House was built after the USS Cole bombing in 2000. It opened the summer before 9/11 and has been a place of comfort for families of injured service members. The Fisher House for Families of the Fallen is the only one of its kind. It was dedicated on Nov. 10, 2010, in time for Veterans Day. “Our mission here and at [Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations] is to honor and respect the fallen and to provide care, service, and support to the loved ones who come to witness them coming home to American soil,” former Dover Fisher House manager Air Force Master Sgt. Stasia T. Smith said. “I want them to know that the people that are there are taking care of them, they mean it, and that their deceased member, their loved one, did not pass away in vain.”

Fisher House founders sketched cartoon

Coast Guard veteran Karla Nemitz and her husband, Petty Officer Bret Nemitz, spent Thanksgiving at Fisher House Alaska as they waited for the best gift to arrive: a baby girl. The family is stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mustang in Seward, Alaska, but because of a lack of local medical facilities and the difficulties of a three-hour drive to the nearest hospital, they were sent to Anchorage a month before their baby was due. They arrived in November 2020, and their baby, Penny, was born on December 21st. The family was home by Christmas and was blessed with several parting gifts from Fisher House. During the wait, the couple volunteered to clean, take out the trash, and help with general household chores. “We were happy to help while we waited for Penny. Staying at Fisher House meant so much to Bret and me,” said Karla. “Being so close to the hospital meant we didn’t have to worry about how we were going to get there and instead could focus on our family.” Karla, a gifted illustrator, was inspired by the story of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher and sketched a cartoon of the Fisher House founders. To see more of Karla’s work, follow her on Instagram or on Facebook at Art by Karla.

“It’s important that the Wise family and all families who have made the ultimate sacrifice understand that Americans are very grateful,” said Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Ken Fisher. "We dedicated The Fisher House for Families of the Fallen because their sacrifice must be honored.”



AFW2 Caregivers share how they Collectively Heal during Virtual Panel Story by Christy Wilcox Photos courtesy the Gage Family and Fisher House Foundation

Military spouse Sarah Gage is a caregiver for her husband, an activeduty technical sergeant in the Air Force. He was wounded in April 2018, but the story of her family goes far beyond caring for him. She also has a two-year-old son, who was diagnosed with multiple medical issues starting at just three weeks old. Sarah and Christian Berry, also a caregiver, shared their stories during an Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) virtual panel discussion last fall. AFW2 hosted the panel to discuss how Fisher House Foundation serves both service members and those working hard to help their injured warriors heal.

"When we support caregivers, the healing process gets easier, the focus is more intentional, and everyone benefits- families re-connect, grow stronger, and ultimately remain together," Tish said. During the discussion, both Sarah and Christian shared how the Fisher House mission helped their families thrive. Christian’s family was able to go to Warrior Games together with the help of Fisher House. She said it was inspiring for her kids to watch their father run during his track event. Christian says knowing people are working behind the scenes to support her family is especially heartwarming. "You feel a presence of just love, peace, and dedication," Christian said.

AFW2 Support Branch Chief Marsha Gonzales hosted the virtual panel with guest, Tish Stropes, Fisher House Foundation Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. Tish may be a member of the Fisher House team, but she is also a military spouse. Her husband served in the Air Force for 25 years. She understands why it is important for caregivers to have a break from dayto-day stress. Tish says support from Fisher House is vital for both AFW2 and their caregivers.



Both caregivers say Fisher House has been valuable as they embrace a new way of life, while also learning how to care for themselves. Fisher House is proud to support families during this process. In January 2020, AFW2 hosted a CARE event to work with wounded warriors and their caregivers in Oahu, Hawaii. Fisher House’s Hero Miles program provided the airline tickets to get them to their destination. For Sarah, her time in Hawaii was priceless. While her husband was engaged in learning adaptive sports, Sarah had the opportunity to attend workshops and meet other caregivers like her. Sarah also discovered that Fisher House could also help connect her family with a community group for support while her son gets treatment at a children's hospital in Boston. As a

result, Sarah and her husband received hotel rooms and advocacy from the Boston Fisher House community group. The support lifted a burden off their shoulders, enabling them to focus solely on their son's care. When needed, they stay at a hotel next to their child's hospital instead of enduring an hours-long drive home. AFW2 Caregiver Program Manager Tonya McGough also participated in the virtual panel. She reflected on the special event in Hawaii as well. She discussed how the mission positively affected the lives of caregivers who often do not have "me time." Tonya said this special occasion allowed people a freedom some had not felt in a long time. During their stay in Hawaii, participants got to interact with each other and with leadership. Sarah says the camaraderie at the meet-up has given her life-long friendships, ones she depends on as she continues to care for both her husband and son.

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.”

Lori Erickson Naval Medical center San Diego Fisher House

Story by David Nye

The first Fisher House was still under construction when Lorene “Lori” Erickson got the call that every military spouse dreads: her husband, a Marine tanker, had been seriously wounded by friendly fire in Desert Storm and needed emergency surgery. Lori and her two kids nervously waited for word of his fate for three weeks until dad showed up on the doorstep wrapped in bandages and carrying his duffel bag. So, when the former medical assistant and massage therapist got the chance to take over the Camp Lejeune Fisher House in 2010, she leaped at the opening and got the job. A year and a half later, she transferred to the Naval Medical Center San Diego Fisher House. In a career that’s spanned 10 years and both coasts, she’s helped thousands of military families. Now, she’s headed off to a wellearned retirement. But when she talks about the families and veterans, it’s easy to see why she stayed as long as she did. One patient at NMCSD survived an improvised explosive device attack and eventually lost both legs after an over three-year fight. His parents had also each lost a limb to diabetes. He came to San Diego because he wanted to snowboard again and made an impact on the other families during his stay at the Fisher House. “He was having a special prosthetic made for him,” Lori said. “And so he stayed with us and he was super fun. The families in the house actually would come to me and say, ‘I can't believe his story.’” The two San Diego Fisher Houses host a lot of families welcoming premature babies or fighting cancer. Lori and her staff work hard to help them all. But she has a clear affinity for families like hers once was, back when she was a military spouse with a wounded Marine on the other side of the world, two kids, lots of questions, and no answers.

“I just knew that, okay, there's not going to be another family that's going to have to go through what I went through,” she said. “Not if I have any power to keep that from happening.” The families she’s served have appreciated that dedication. When she moved from Camp Lejeune to San Diego, she enjoyed Thanksgiving with a family that had stayed at the Camp Lejeune Fisher House. “I tried to find their house, and I don't go anywhere without my GPS,” she said, “but my GPS had me going, I was three miles from the Tijuana border and I'm like, ‘Well, I know they don't live in Mexico, so I've got to have a wrong name of a street or something.’ I finally found it and we had a great time. It was definitely cool to get back with them.” Now, Lori and her husband are planning to travel the country in a fifth-wheel RV for a few years before settling down again. They hope to find a spot near a hospital, both because her husband uses VA medical care and because they both want to be able to volunteer regularly. From all of us at Fisher House Foundation, Lori, we wish you a wonderful retirement. Thank you for your service to our nation’s military heroes and their families.







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 Fisher House Foundation

WE SALUTE: GI Go Fund received the highest honor and a $50,000 grant in the 2020 Newman’s Own® Awards. Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, the Veterans Center for Job Training and Entrepreneurship offers a job training center and incubator space to hundreds of veterans in the New York and New Jersey region. The center’s training is available both in person and online in several major business skills ranging from business writing to cloud computing. The center also offers a veteran incubator where veterans can run their businesses and receive services such as legal aid, website development, marketing materials, conference room space, and business cards. “Being recognized by Newman’s Own® Foundation along with Fisher House and Military Times is a huge honor for any veterans organization in this country,” said GI Go Fund CEO Jack Fanous. “But for myself and my co-founders, Alex Manis and James Fanous, this moment has special meaning, as we

founded GI Go Fund after we lost our childhood friend Lt. Seth Dvorin to an improvised explosive device blast in Iraq. We continue to be motivated by the work of Newman’s Own®, Fisher House, and Military Times every day for all the great work they do in military community as we begin our 15th year providing innovative services to veterans and military spouses. Our Veterans Center for Job Training and Entrepreneurship has been a powerful resource for veterans during COVID-19, providing veteran small business owners an advanced incubator space to help their companies thrive and job training in hundreds of modern skills to help unemployed veterans find work in this new post-pandemic world. We are grateful to Newman’s Own®, Fisher House, and Military Times for recognizing our efforts, and look forward to achieving great things moving forward into 2021.”

To learn more and view the 2020 Newman's Own® Awards Ceremony, go to: 14


Story by Fisher House Foundation

2020 Award Recipients

GI Go Fund earned the top Newman’s Own® Award in 2020 for its work helping veterans improve their jobs and start companies. These five nonprofits were also recognized for doing great work in the military and veteran communities and received grants as well:


Warrior Wellness Solutions is a Durham, North Carolina-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that provides personalized functional medicine health coaching, rehabilitative and adaptive exercise, mindfulness and mindset training, and wellness education to wounded, ill and injured warriors, their families, and caregivers. Warrior Wellness Solutions delivers sustainable wellness and lifestyle solutions that contribute to redefining a life of purpose and creates a ripple effect impacting relationships with family, friends, and the community at large.


Veterans Community Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by a group of combat veterans in Kansas City, Missouri who resolved to stand in the gaps of a broken system that left too many of their brothers and sisters behind. By providing critical support services paired with an innovative transitional housing model, VCP has served thousands of at-risk and homeless veterans since 2016. Using the VCP Village and Outreach Center in Kansas City as a blueprint, VCP is now expanding its programs to eight cities by 2022. VCP’s long-term goal: ending veteran homelessness nationwide.


Concord, Massachusetts

Second Chance Cars is an innovative nonprofit with a mission to mobilize low-income Massachusetts veterans through affordable car ownership, so they may access living-wage jobs and improve their quality of life. SCC created a unique coalition consisting of car donors, vocational schools who affordably refurbish cars, social service agencies who select candidates for them, a credit counseling agency who screens candidates, and a bank that provides SCC car buyers with a zero-percent, $900, credit-building car loan. While SCC cars cost $900, they are worth, on average, $3,000 and provide their recipients with the means to earn, on average, $23,000 of additional annual income, decrease their commute time, improve their credit scores, and increase their ability to access healthcare and grocery stores. No other organization is providing refurbished, affordable, and reliable cars to Massachusetts’ 23,000 low-income veterans, and no other like-organization in the country is utilizing affordable vocational school labor to do so.


The New Military Spouse Support Program has provided thousands of new military spouses the opportunity to receive peer-to-peer mentorship from the time they become new military spouses through the time they change bases for the first time. All military spouses that transition from the program feel equipped to handle anything that military life throws their way and will forever have a safe community to reach out for additional help if they need it. This program is a resource available inside the Air Force's Basic Military Training which provides peer-to-peer mentorship support to all new military spouses including National Guard and Reserve components.


The ‘We Are Invictus’ Ambassador Programme will give wounded warriors an opportunity to inspire, motivate, and support their fellow injured servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Foundation’s social network — We Are Invictus. The programme will give wounded warriors the tools, assets, and support to be masters of their own fate and the opportunity to continue to serve in an ambassadorial role within the international Invictus community. Ambassadors will be helping to share the Invictus spirit and engage wounded, injured, and sick military personnel and their families in sports recovery activities around the world.




HERO of FORT HOOD shooting reflects on Fisher House support Story by David Nye Photos by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony White

“Breaking news: Mass shooting at Fort Hood. And in the foreground of the television screen was the 1st Medical Brigade building, which I knew was where Pat worked, in that small building,” John Miller said. It was his first warning that his son, Army Maj. Patrick (Pat) Miller, was in danger. John would soon learn from his wife that their son had been shot while trying to save his fellow soldiers. Pat was working in his office, trying to wrap up his Wednesday afternoon and get back home when he learned that there was an active shooter on base. He went to get the other soldiers nearby to shelter in his office, which was behind two sets of doors with locks, but the first soldier he tried to save turned out to be the shooter. He was hit inches from his heart and spleen. Still, after getting away, he fought through the pain and kept finding soldiers and sending them back to his office where they would be safer. When he was evacuated to emergency surgery, Pat’s wife, Ashley, worked to alert his parents, eventually reaching Pat’s mom as she ate dinner with a friend. Pat’s siblings and in-laws rushed to be by his side. John and his wife arrived at the base a few days later, while Pat was still in the ICU but was expected to make a full recovery. When they arrived, they were surprised by the Fort Hood Army Fisher House at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“We felt so cared for and respected and felt like we were being treated as family members, that it was first-class accommodations,” John said. “It was good for me to have them there,” Pat said, “just to have them see me and so I could see them, to make sure that they were taken care of.” Both Pat and his parents had good reason to be worried about each other. Pat was still recovering from the shooting, and his mother was fighting multiple sclerosis. But the amenities at Fisher House, the professionals at the medical center, and the hospitality of Fort Hood allowed all of them to know that everyone was safe. “It was just an amazing experience, and they lit up when they talked to me about it,” Pat said. “We were able to just walk across the parking lot, to get to the hospital to be with Patrick,” John said. “You know, you really felt as part of one larger family,” John said. Pat and John were so appreciative of Fisher House’s role in his recovery that, in 2017, they began hosting an annual concert in Western New York to benefit Fisher House Foundation and other military-focused nonprofits.

Photos: Army Lt. Col. Patrick (Pat) Miller and his family visit the Madigan Army Medical Center Fisher House at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Pat now commands a battalion on the base The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.



“I was like, alright, we could put on a show, like country music,” Pat said. “It’s big for the demographic.” Pat and John had to think outside the box to get things started. Pat was assigned to Hawaii at the time, but he worked with local authorities, got sponsors, and raised about $20,000 for Fisher House Foundation and Homes for the Troops. The concert grew in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 concert was delayed due to COVID-19 concerns, but the family is looking forward to when they can re-start the tradition. Since his recovery, Pat has been promoted to lieutenant colonel and taken command of a battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He and his wife have also welcomed two children, Harper and Bennett.

“You know, you

really felt as part of one larger family.” — John Miller, Pat Miller's father





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.

Ann Arbor, Michigan Holiday socially distanced dinner for Fisher House guests In partnership with Wells Fargo and the Sam & Nada Simon Foundation, Fisher House Michigan hosted elegant, yet socially distanced, dining experiences for the Fisher House staff and guests for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other donors provided a beautiful electric menorah and decorated the Christmas tree with gift cards “from Santa” for each family to enjoy. Just like deployments, pandemics can’t stop a family’s love, and Fisher House Michigan was honored to be a part of supporting a warm place for dozens of families to stay connected with their hospitalized loved ones throughout the holiday season.

Andrews AFB, Maryland A “thank you” to our service members On Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, JB Andrews Fisher House, Inc. put together goody bags and delivered them to military units around the base whose personnel have continued to provide for our care and safety during the pandemic, our small way of saying “thank you” to our service members for their dedication.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Frontline workers get a special delivery Fisher House Wisconsin loves our healthcare workers and is so thankful for the many doctors, nurses, specialists, and many others who give so much to care for our veterans every day! To show our appreciation, Fisher House Wisconsin put together a small winter treat for all the hard-working staff at the Milwaukee VA. More than 5,000 mugs were packed up for delivery to departments all over the VA campus. Thank you for caring for our veterans!



VOLUNTEER TRIBUTE Steve Kuykendall Fisher House Southern California President Steve Kuykendall always had a strong sense of service. He served two tours in Vietnam as a Marine Captain, and also was a U.S. Congressman, member of the California State Assembly, city councilman, and mayor. When he retired, his drive to serve didn’t stop. In 2012, Steve organized a group of community leaders to raise money to bring a Fisher House to Long Beach, California. This group became Fisher House Southern California (FH SoCal). “I couldn't think of a better way to serve my community,” said Steve about his role as President of Fisher House Southern California. “I think everything I've done in my career has prepared me for this.” Under Steve’s leadership, members of FH SoCal attended many community events at local corporations, country clubs, military organizations, service clubs, and private homes spreading the word about the need for a Fisher House in Long Beach. After a year of outreach, the group began fundraising and exceeded their goal, raising more than half the money needed to build the house. Thanks to the group’s hard work, the Long Beach Fisher House was built and dedicated in October 2016. Much of this success was because of Steve’s passion to help veterans and their families. “Steve’s organizational savvy led the fundraising board on a path to success. Community outreach, old fashioned footwork, media efforts, and public relations strategies were all influenced and shaped by this great patriot. We all took great pride in being a part of such a gallant effort,” said fellow member of the board Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Paul Mock. “The successes of Steve Kuykendall were our successes — all for the benefit of our veterans, their families, and our national pride. It was an honor to serve with Steve Kuykedall.”

Given the success in Long Beach, Steve and the Fisher House Southern California Board were asked to expand their territory to include the Fisher Houses at Camp Pendleton and Naval Medical Center San Diego. They wholeheartedly agreed and continue to support those houses to this day. “Steve’s work to bring a Fisher House to Long Beach and then to support the Fisher Houses at Camp Pendleton and the Naval Medical Center in San Diego has had a significant impact on military and veteran families by ensuring that they had a safe, comfortable place to recover from illness or injury,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger. “His service to those who serve will continue to make a difference for many years to come.” Steve's impact on Fisher House has not only been felt in Southern California but throughout the Fisher House network. He and the rest of the board of Fisher House SoCal developed best practices that have been used by other Fisher House community groups throughout the country. “Steve's dedication to helping veterans and their families will live on in Southern California and throughout the network of Fisher Houses for many years to come,” said Fisher House Foundation Vice President for Community Relations Brian Gawne. “His commitment to service is an inspiration to us all.” Sadly, Steve passed away on Jan. 22, 2021. His legacy will live on through his work with Fisher House Southern California and through his many years of selfless service to his community and our country.



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.


Glenwood, Maryland

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Hannah Lindberg from Glenwood, Maryland, dedicated her Bat Mitzvah to Fisher House Foundation, raising over $1,700 in 2020. When asked why she chose to support Fisher House, Hannah explained, “Fisher House Foundation is important to me because I have many relatives that served in the military, including my great grandfather Oris who received the Purple Heart after being wounded in WWII.”

Airbourne Gymnastics located in Fayetteville, North Carolina held a cartwheel-a-thon the week of Veterans Day, raising over $1,200 for Fisher House Foundation. Since Fayetteville is the home of both Fort Bragg, and the 82nd Airborne Division, many of their gymnasts’ parents serve in the military, which is why they chose to support Fisher House.

Newport, California

Frederick, Maryland

CASEpeer, LLC located in Newport, California hosted a SoulCycle ride for 52 members of the Orange County law community, raising over $3,900 in honor of Veterans Day. CASEpeer chose to support Fisher House Foundation after hearing about the positive experiences families had while staying at a Fisher House.

2020 marked the ninth year that Marleen Welsh from Frederick, Maryland participated in the Army Ten-Miler, raising over $5,000 for Fisher House Foundation. As in years past, Marleen ran in memory of her father-in-law, Gen. John Shalikashvili, who devoted his career to the Army, and was a life-long runner.


Corporate Corporateand andFoundation FoundationGiving Giving Fisher FisherHouse HouseFoundation Foundationis isthe thebeneficiary beneficiaryofofmany manygenerous generousgifts. gifts.Here, we highlight companies Here, we highlight that continue companies to support that the continue FishertoHouse support program. the Fisher House program.

passes $1 million in gifts Oshkosh Defense has a special relationship with the Milwaukee VA Fisher House, where its volunteers have helped prepare the house for spring every year. A team of Oshkosh employees cleans up the grounds, lays fresh mulch, plants flowers, and more to make sure families have a comfortable place to come together and heal. According to Jennifer Kiefer, the Milwaukee Fisher House manager, "We can always count on Oshkosh employees to roll up their sleeves and help us every year in the spring and fall to lay mulch, clean up the yard, plant flowers, and do just about anything that is needed around the house. They are such a fun group to work with and we are very grateful for this partnership."

“Oshkosh Defense is proud to support Fisher House Foundation. I firmly believe that when someone enlists in the U.S. military, the whole family enlists along with them,” said John Bryant, Oshkosh Defense President. “Partnering with Fisher House is a small way for us to thank and support those family members who serve and sacrifice alongside their loved one. Thank you, Fisher House, for providing a home away from home for the families of our nation’s heroes.”

In addition to Oshkosh Defense’s dedication through their employees, since 2009, Oshkosh has committed financial support, including a major Fisher House Golf Classic sponsorship. Their generous contribution reached $1 million with their 2021 commitment to the Fisher House Golf Classic and the Milwaukee Fisher House. "Oshkosh's generous gifts help Fisher House Foundation accomplish its mission of supporting military and veteran families through medical crises," said Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Kenneth Fisher. "The enduring support of groups like Oshkosh Defense ensures that the Fisher House network will continue to grow for decades to come."



JOURNAL ENTRIES & LETTERS Dayton, OH This was not what we expected. What we expected was two army cots and a roll of toilet paper, certainly not the elegant beauty that surprised us when we entered in. We also did not expect the sincere, friendly, and kind staff. We feel that we have made friends. Thank you, F isher fa mily, for caring. Thank you, FH staff, for making us feel cared about.

Fort Ca mpbell, KY I wanted to thank the staff and F isher House Foundation for such a wonderful place to stay while visiting my daughter. The a menities — which are provided to support our soldiers’ fa milies — are above and beyond anything I could have wished for. Support facilities such as the F isher House should be an exa mple and testa ment to how fa milies should be treated. This Foundation and its representatives/staff are a shining exa mple of caring, support, thoughtfulness, love, and care that brings extraordinary credit to Fort Ca mpbell, its leaders, all of the volunteers, and its staff. From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone involved for such a wonderful and pleasant experience during my stay here. Thank you, Wendy Carlston, for the help and support.

Hines, IL I was not able to be with my husband at the hospital (only the patient was allowed in) but I was well taken care of here, while the hospital called me with updates on my husband. I a m very grateful to Holly, Ja mes, and staff (Tabious, Rob, and Bill) for their gracious accommodations. They work so very hard to keep this house in perfect shape, inside and out. You can just tell they are loved by all. Thank you once again. Y ou are truly appreciated, each and every one of you.

West Roxbury, MA Heartfelt thanks for a beautiful stay. It gave my Daddy — Air Force Vet — peace of mind knowing that his girl was taken good care of while an unexpected admission kept us here in New Roxbury. As an added thank you, I will return with a red velvet cake for your awesome staff. Thank you again.




Navy family care for premature son Story by David Nye Photos provided by the Chandler Family

Navy sailor Nathan Chandler and his wife, Erica, were preparing to greet their first child when, at just over 35 weeks, they learned that they would need an emergency cesarean section. This premature birth would make a long stay in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital necessary. At first, they paid out of pocket to stay at a hotel about 20 minutes from the hospital. They were hoping to take their newborn, Henry, home quickly, but discovered that he was sometimes ceasing to breathe while feeding or traveling in a car seat. After they learned they would be staying a little longer, they took the advice of a case worker to use Fisher House Foundation’s Hotel for Heroes program. “I like to think I’m pretty proud, and it sounded like charity, so I refused it in the beginning,” Nathan said. “Then I realized this could be a big help. We’d be literally down the street from the hospital, and it would take off one less stressful thing. Especially with having a baby in the NICU, commuting long distances, wife recovering from a C-section. It was pretty stressful.”

Erica and Nathan worked together in those tough, early days of caring for a premature baby. “I think our marriage at that point kind of took a back burner to a degree,” Erica said. “And I think that we both just focused on getting our son home. At that point we kind of looked at it as a team and when one person couldn't handle it anymore, we’d switch. Nathan, if he just hit a wall and couldn't do it anymore, then I'd jump in and I'd take over. And when I hit that wall, he would jump in and take over.” Henry is sleeping and eating safely now, and the family is enjoying their time at home. They did wish that they could make one change, though. “Part of me wishes we had learned about Fisher House earlier.”

All the emotions of having a premature baby, recovering from an emergency C-section, and being away from family hit Erica all at once as they switched hotels. “The hotel we had paid for was 20 minutes away,” Erica said. “The hotel we got from Fisher House, we were 30 seconds away. It was amazing. And the staff at the hotel, on day one, were amazing. I had gotten a room and check-in was at 3 p.m., and I called the hotel at noon, crying because I was so tired. The woman was like, ‘Honey, come now. We have a room for you. Just come.’ They didn’t care that we were early. She even had a nice setup for me in the room with water and snacks.”





-Year Update

Story by Michelle Baldanza Photos provided by the Norris Family

We love hearing from Fisher House families and are especially happy to hear when guests have overcome the illness or injury that brought them to Fisher House. Twentyfive years ago, Air Force officer Willard Norris and his wife, Kristin, traveled from their duty station at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan to Travis Air Force Base, California when their 10-monthold daughter, Lauren, became ill. She was diagnosed with Wilm’s tumor, a type of kidney cancer that is typically found in young children. Kristin and Lauren stayed in the Fisher House for more than a

month while Willard handled the reassignment.

Mom Lauren &

No one tells a Fisher House story better than our guests. Here is an excerpt of Kristin’s email to Becky Wood, current manager of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Fisher House, who at the time, was the Fisher House manager at Travis Air Force Base.

Lauren mother & of our grandson and the wife to a future Air Force physician. She is an artist with her own business and is expecting her second child in November. The little baby who played in the cupboards in the Fisher House kitchen is a healthy woman today.

“Just a quick update. Our family of four came to Travis, and we left as a family of six. Our daughter Lauren (who spent her first birthday at the Fisher House) is now the beautiful

"I think of our time at Travis often and with fondness. Despite the circumstances that took us there, we were happy. Thank you for being a part of our adventure. Thank you.”

CONSTRUCTION UPDATES OPENING Richmond, Virginia A second home was completed at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia last August. The 20-suite Fisher House brings the total number of rooms available for families receiving medical care to 40. Huntington, West Virginia On December 1, the Fisher House at the Hershel "Woody" Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia was completed. It is the first Fisher House built in West Virginia. Up to 16 families can stay at the home free of charge on any given night.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION Kansas City, Missouri In early August of last year, Fisher House supporters broke ground virtually in Kansas City, Missouri for 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.

DOWN RANGE CONSTRUCTION The following projects are currently in design. • Bay Pines VA Healthcare System — Bay Pines, Florida • Columbia VA Health Care System — Columbia, South Carolina • Lexington VA Health Care System — Lexington, Kentucky 24


(1996) Family (2021)

Our Fisher House Journey Story by Annie Schwartz Photo provided by the Schwartz Family

Army Veteran Alex Schwartz and his wife, Annie, have stayed at the Alaska Fisher House off and on since 2014. Here Annie shares their story in her own words. Our Fisher House journey started in 2014. We stayed there when our full-term NICU baby had a follow up surgery at 20 months. We had never heard of Fisher House before and were so impressed with the friendliness of the staff, cleanliness of facilities, and generosity of the donors and volunteers. After that first time, Fisher House became our favorite place to stay when we had to be away from home for medical appointments. We felt blessed to be able to stay in such a comfortable place when we were 3-4 hours from home. In November 2019, we had just gotten home from our routine monthly appointments when we found out that our then-8-year-old daughter had cancer. This was life shattering. The physical toll on a pediatric cancer patient is heart wrenching. The emotional and relational tolls on a family can be similarly devastating. But in the midst of what was probably our family’s darkest December, where the day we celebrated our daughter’s ninth birthday was the very day we learned her cancer’s name, where we once again uprooted our family to seek medical care away from home for a family member, Fisher House was a bright and shining light. We arrived on the 16th of December: the middle of the busy, joyous, bustling Christmas season. It didn’t feel much like Christmas. But with young children, skipping a holiday is NOT an option! They needed the celebration. Honestly, we all did. But none of us had energy or time to devote to festivities. However, Fisher House, with their amazing donors, volunteers, and staff, encircled our family with so much love and caring and light during those dark, dreadful days of starting this cancer journey.

my daughters! Caroling around a beautifully decorated tree. Stockings filled daily with an amazing assortment of fun and useful treats. We were gifted lovely, decorated trees for our own family’s room. And on Christmas Day we were blessed with so many presents that it took hours to open them all! One year later, the children still look on this as their best Christmas ever!! We ended up at our Fisher House home for most of 2020. All the staff — housekeepers and managers alike — were there to listen to our story, cheer the little successes, and grieve the losses along the way. They kept the house supplied with paper products, hand soap, and sanitizing wipes during shortages spurred by a global pandemic. During those months we also celebrated five family members’ birthdays and one high school graduation (our oldest son). But our biggest celebration was when our daughter completed her treatments — and the ending scans were clear! And then — finally — we were cleared to take her home! Three months later, we’re home from another trip to Fisher House for follow up scans. (Thankfully, all is still clear!) It was an interesting feeling returning to what our three-year-old called “the brown home.” In so many ways it was like we had never left. We had missed everyone while we were home, and it was a great reunion. Fisher House is now our “home away from home” and ALL the staff are our extended family! To all the folks who make Fisher House such a wonderful place: We can’t thank you enough! Our hearts will forever be full of gratitude for making what could have been a dreadful year one of hope. Thank you all and God bless each one of you!!!

There were special meals. Snacks and goodies and treats — one volunteer came in to bake cookies with THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 1 • 2021


HOUSE ROUNDUP The Patriot always loves to check in and see what our Fisher Houses have been up to. Here, we outline a few highlights from houses around the world, submitted by the Fisher House managers. ARIZONA


House at Camp Pendleton was presented by members Alexis and Brandon Boehm. We truly appreciate their support!



JBER HOSPITAL Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Life within the Fisher House is shared amongst staff and guests. Bonds are made and lives are touched. Fisher House staff come alongside our guests through many different medical challenges, like cancer, high-risk pregnancy, and long-term rehabilitation and recovery. In honor of the families that have shared pieces of their lives with us, Kristyn, an Alaska Fisher House Assistant Manager, recently chose to donate over 10 inches of her hair to an organization that supports hair loss from cancer treatment in hopes to provide others with a gift of beauty.



A special thank you to the Disabled American Veterans Cactus Chapter #2 of Tucson for all their hard work and dedication organizing and purchasing all the items necessary for a cereal bar. They purchased a beautiful breakfast buffet from Ethan Allen with cereal dispensers, spoons, bowls, and the items to fill the dispensers. Guests are able to enjoy not only a large variety of cereal but they can also snack on healthy granola or add it to oatmeal or yogurt. To make sure the cereal buffet is filled for future guests, they also donated gift cards for the manager to replenish the supplies. This is an amazing gift and will greatly enhance the guests’ stay at Fisher House. A special thank you to Carol Rundell and Nancy Hairston for all their time, coordination and dedication to the families of the SAVAHCS Fisher House.


NAVAL HOSPITAL CAMP PENDLETON Camp Pendleton In July, the Fisher House at Camp Pendleton was honored to receive a generous donation from the RJ Clark Family Foundation, who encourages their members to select a charity of their choice to receive a donation each year. As part of the program, the members must research an organization and create a presentation to share with the Foundation’s executive team to obtain the grant. Through this program, the RJ Clark Family Foundation is helping future generations engage in philanthropy at an early age. The donation to the Fisher

NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER SAN DIEGO San Diego The Sea and Air Women’s Golf Club hosted their annual golf tournament to benefit Fisher House San Diego. In previous years, around 30-40 golfers participated in this annual event. Due to COVID-19, to accommodate social distancing guidelines, 12-15 members participated in the in-person event. The remaining members of the Sea and Air Women's Golf Club still supported the event from their homes by sending in entry-fee donations even though they did not participate in the in-person event! The Golf Club presented 30+ individual member checks amounting to $3,000 to support service members and their families staying at Fisher House San Diego!

complete landscape package was also installed around the climate-controlled storage unit which included lush tropical foliage, decorative plants, and maintenance-free river rock border. Thank you for your support, Lewis Property Services!

DAVID GRANT USAF MEDICAL CENTER Travis AFB Every day we welcome a new guest into our home, and this wall of pictures is just a glimmer into their time spent with us. This project has been a labor of love for our entire team and our volunteers with a special thank you to Bryant Lewin who helped with the task of hanging them. Every moment captured is an inspiring new story to be shared. We are so thankful for the opportunity to help our service members and their families.


ORLANDO VA MEDICAL CENTER Orlando The Orlando Fisher House received an outdoor makeover on December 4, 2020 thanks to Lewis Property Services! Twenty-five eager employees and their director of operations, Don Simmons, showed up bright and early to perform their 2nd Annual Day of Service at the Fisher House. The morning began with a presentation by the house manager, Teresa Turner, in which she shared the mission of Fisher House as well as statistics to demonstrate the impact the free lodging has on our active-duty military, veterans, and their families. The group then marched on with giving the property a face lift including edging, trimming, weeding, and mowing. A

EISENHOWER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER Ft. Gordon We would like to thank the members of Encompass Home Health/Regional Home Office for choosing the Fisher House as one of the charities they support. They delivered a gift basket full of goodies on Jan. 22, 2021 to the Fisher House. Nicole Demchak and Carmen Shealy with Encompass Home Health are pictured above delivering the gift baskets to the Fisher House.


EDWARD HINES, JR. VA HOSPITAL Hines Fisher Houses heavily rely on volunteers and this is no different for Hines Fisher House. Volunteers assist staff with everything from light housekeeping, organizing donations to gardening and even cooking meals for our guests. They are dedicated to the house and passionate about the mission of our program. It’s what keeps them coming back year after year. Hines Fisher House normally celebrates our volunteers in September, in conjunction with our founder’s birthday, and has a wonderful luncheon. Unfortunately, COVID changed those plans, but Hines Fisher House staff didn’t want to leave our volunteers without acknowledgement. So, what’s the next best thing? A drive-through Volunteer Appreciation Day! On a beautiful day in September, Hines Fisher House staff and hospital leadership celebrated our volunteers with a drive-through lunch where they received a boxed lunch and gift bag full of goodies in appreciation of all their hard work. There was music playing, balloons, and a lot of air hugs! Even a few of our guests came out with masks on to say thank you. A great time was had by all!”



HOUSE ROUNDUP sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and all the things we needed to help keep our families as safe as possible during the pandemic. In addition, they helped keep us stocked with wish list items, including paper towels, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and batteries. They also provided frozen food items, so our families had the ability to come home from the hospital and have a meal readily available.


VA MAINE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Augusta Thomas Cole retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2017. He and his wife Linda have been our most frequent guests since we opened our doors in 2020. Our staff was proud and honored to facilitate the presentation of an Eagle Cane, symbolizing appreciation for a veteran's service, to Thomas on behalf of George & Donna Gunning. Pictured (L to R): Assistant Manager Jen Smith, Housekeeper Nikki Wentworth, Thomas Cole, Program Support Specialist Deb Milbury, and Linda Cole. Welcoming the Coles into the Fisher House family has been one of the great joys of opening the VA Maine Fisher House.



MINNEAPOLIS VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Minneapolis A lot of changes have occurred at our campus. We recently onboarded a new manager, David Mason, and two program support assistants, Mitch Johnson and Frankye Gravatt. This past fall, we closed Fisher House I for scheduled renovations and reopened just in time for the holidays, then closed Fisher House II for its renovations. Each guest room received new carpet, paint, and furnishings, providing a fresh and appealing update. Our reopening coincided perfectly with the holidays and allowed us to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We look forward to bringing Fisher House II back online in the coming months, so we can safely welcome and serve our veterans and their families.


VA ST. LOUIS HEALTH CARE SYSTEM St. Louis Bruce and Rosie Newman, during their darkest days, chose to celebrate life with a kiss. That sentiment is something that brings hope and exudes love. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Newman, for being an example of the power of making a choice to celebrate life.

WALTER REED NATIONAL MILITARY MEDICAL CENTER Bethesda Chris Wertman and members of Linthecum United Methodist Church have been providing cookout items for the last five years so our Fisher House families can have cookouts and mingle with other families. With the current environment the way it is, Chris and the church members have changed how they continue to support our Fisher House. For the last few months, Chris has sent an email or called to see what we needed to support our families. They were able to supply us with hand 28



VA NEBRASKA-WESTERN IOWA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Omaha The Omaha Fisher House officially opened its doors for guests on Sept. 9, 2020 and has lodged dozens of families since that day. Mrs. Follmer was a recent guest who stayed with us while her husband, a U.S. Army veteran, was undergoing treatment at a local hospital. When we asked her

asked her to tell us about her favorite part of the Fisher House, she replied, “The people. It’s a beautiful place that feels like home. It has everything you need and is close to the hospitals. It is fabulous."


House to the "Land of Enchantment," has continued to be a dedicated supporter. In November, the New Mexico American Legion donated items from the Albuquerque Fisher House’s Amazon wish list worth over $2,000. We've even had donors step up to bring tamales from local restaurants and eggs from their farms! The tamales and eggs even garnered a squeal of delight from a guest who had come from Florida to be with her father during his last days. She said that being able to heat up a tamale with a real egg made her feel like she really was home, something that brought her tremendous comfort during a difficult time. The pantry items, household goods, and PPE will ensure that families traveling here find the comfort they deserve.

VA SOUTHERN NEVADA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM North Las Vegas Mrs. Betsy O’Brien has been a regular volunteer since February 2016. Mrs. O’Brien is a retired command master chief, having served 35 years with the U.S. Navy. Even during the uncertain times of 2020, Betsy continued to volunteer weekly and serve the veteran families of Southern Nevada. Betsy writes out our thank you cards, screens guests/volunteers for COVID, organizes and sorts donations, and is willing to assist with any other task needed. We appreciate Betsy and her continued support of the Las Vegas Fisher House.


RAYMOND G. MURPHY VA MEDICAL CENTER Albuquerque While the pandemic has made it difficult to have volunteers come to the Fisher House, donors have stepped up to fill the void by donating pantry items, gift cards, and even farm-fresh eggs. Since October, 37 donors have brought donations to the Fisher House or Voluntary Services. The American Legion family, which was instrumental in bringing the first Fisher


I am quite sure this helping spirit exists across all Fisher House teams, because it’s in our nature to step up and get things done, to accept difficult challenges and defeat them and, above all else, to be the steady and comforting force that keeps the morale of others elevated! So, to the entire Fisher House family, we send you our good thoughts and positive vibes from Albany, New York.


NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER CAMP LEJEUNE Camp Lejeune The Marine Corps League Auxiliary Unit 262 is a small but powerful group of Marine Corps supporters that have supported the Camp Lejeune Fisher House for years. Whether it is Christmas stockings, toiletry items for guests, meals, desserts, and snacks for the counters or creating joyous wreaths for the front doors of the Fisher House, the Auxiliary is always there to help. Often initiated by a visit from Pat and Lee Walker or a quick phone call checking on the families at Fisher House, the support is always present, always caring and always needed. The guests of the Camp Lejeune Fisher House always feel the support and love of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Family, thanks to the Marine Corps League Auxiliary 262. We couldn't do it without them!

ALBANY STRATTON VA MEDICAL CENTER Albany Here in Albany, as the challenges we face rise and fall in intensity, our Fisher House team steps up to meet them head-on! In addition to continuing to provide worldclass lodging and support to the families we serve, we have also assisted our VA medical center in many ways during the pandemic. These other duties have included organizing and preparing food pantry bags for veterans, assisting with administration of Disabled American Veterans transport and management of the COVID screening point of entry for employees. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 1 • 2021




vaccine transport and distribution stayed at the house for four nights. We are honored to have been able to house these individuals during this difficult time.

Dayton Although the holidays were a little unusual this year, Dayton VAMC Fisher House still wanted to bring a little cheer to our Fisher House guests and decorated the house as usual! The Fishers are always ready for a party and were dressed for the holidays!


VA SALT LAKE CITY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM Salt Lake City The frontline worker at the Salt Lake City Fisher House is our lead housekeeper, Bertha Luna. Each day, six days a week, she presents to work with a positive attitude, doing whatever is asked of her. During the spring, she was even seen caring for our grounds! Not only does she do what is asked of her, she does it impeccably and with pride in her work. When guests speak of our small Fisher House staff, they always include her; they absolutely adore her. So here she is… Bertha Luna… our very own frontline hero at the Salt Lake City VA Fisher House.


VA PITTSBURGH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Pittsburgh The VA Pittsburgh Fisher House has continued to provide a place to stay for families of hospitalized veterans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, the number of eligible families able to stay at the Fisher House was drastically reduced due to the hospital’s visitation restrictions. As a result of the reduced occupancy, VA Pittsburgh Fisher House had the opportunity to provide housing to mission-critical staff. The day VA Pittsburgh Fisher House transitioned to housing mission-critical staff, a snowstorm hit the surrounding area, dropping 11 inches of snow in Pittsburgh. Two patient care providers were able to stay at the Fisher House that night after working an overnight shift and were unable to return home for adequate rest before the start of their next shift. Additionally, a police captain detailed to VA Pittsburgh to assist in the COVID-19 30


The Fort Belvoir community is filled with active and retired service members of every military service and every walk of life. Our home is truly grateful to all our friends and neighbors that consistently choose to love our home and our mission as much as we do.


FORT BELVOIR COMMUNITY HOSPITAL Ft. Belvoir Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Belvoir community has found ways to support our home, dropping off things like fabric masks and crochet blankets, items from our Amazon wish list and local retailers, and boxed lunches from local restaurants marked “donation” or “paid in full.”

NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER PORTSMOUTH Portsmouth The Grand Design Mid-Atlantic Owners Rally was held in October 2020 at the Bethpage RV Campground Resort in Urbanna, Virginia in support of the Fisher House Portsmouth. Unfortunately, the Fisher House team was unable to attend, however, over 700 guests and 285 campers did! It was quite challenging to navigate the event given the requirements and protocols established as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, having multiple tents, different colored lanyards, and setting up equipment for video streaming from one tent to another aided in this event being one for the books. The Grand Design owners raised over $21,000 in donations and donated a pickup truck full of household items and 75 hand-knitted blankets for the families to have while visiting their loved ones at the medical center. They thought of everything to help maintain the safe and comfortable well-being of our families. Their sacrificial acts of kindness will forever be etched in the Fisher House Portsmouth's memoirs.

First guests at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center look back on special visit

Story by David Nye

Mike Shelly had come to the West Palm Beach VA Fisher House to give a quote on plumbing work, but as he walked in and saw the foyer, he knew there was something familiar. It took him the trip up the stairs to the room with the problematic shower to realize how he knew the house. “It wasn't until I was standing inside, in the foyer, and then looking at the stairway, going up to that one room in the corner, into the room that I chose to sleep in,” Mike said. “I said, ‘I've been here, I've stayed here. I've definitely been in the room before. I've definitely been in this house.’” Mike had stayed in the Fisher House as a young boy. His mother, Marilyn, was dating an Army veteran, and they were helping each other raise two pairs of boys. The boyfriend, Paul “Tim” Coleman, needed an emergency surgery at the VA, and a case worker told Marilyn that she and the boys could stay at the Fisher House. They were the first guests to stay at the new house. The pipes weren’t yet covered by landscaping, and the fridges were empty when they arrived, but Marilyn remembers someone bringing in a bunch of groceries, including multiple five-pound tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Marilyn also recalls someone providing a babysitter to take care of the boys so she could spend more time at the hospital with Tim.

remembers the boys playing on the big cast iron pipes for the plumbing and water supply, but she isn’t certain if the family stayed there five days or six. Mike remembers luxuriating in having his own room since he usually shared one room with the other three boys but doesn’t remember the exact house layout. For both of them, though, their current work has brought them full circle. Mike felt it when he checked the shower in his old room, and Marilyn now works at a hotel that often hosts families through Fisher House Foundation’s Hotels for Heroes program. Marilyn went back at the invitation of the manager, Shelley Prickett, as part of an open house. When Shelley learned that Marilyn was a former guest, she asked for a photo of Tim to go on their Christmas tree where Shelley and her staff hang photos of former guests. A photo of Tim, who sadly passed in 2009 at the age of 62 after a long fight with leukemia, was added to the tree. His stay at Fisher House left a lasting impression on young Mike as it does for so many Fisher House guests. After twenty-five years, Fisher House still felt like a home away from home.

Twenty-five years later, both Mike and Marilyn are open that they don’t remember all of the details. Marilyn




LOCATION GUIDE Please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location by phone or email.



Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Hospital (907) 222-1673 Manager: Theresa Nedrow

Washington DC VA Medical Center

ARIZONA Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Tucson (520) 838-3680 Manager: Kelly Laurich

CALIFORNIA David Grant USAF Medical Center Travis Air Force Base (707) 423-7550 Manager: Ivana Jordovic Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (760) 763-5308 Manager: Vicky Powell-Johnson Naval Medical Center San Diego (619) 532-9055 Manager: Tiana Babcock VA Long Beach Healthcare System (562) 826-5467 Manager: Yolanda White VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (310) 268-4457 Manager: Erma Mickens VA Palo Alto Health Care System (650) 493-5000 x60384 Manager: Tracy Marino

COLORADO VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System Aurora (720) 723-7683 Manager: Khristie Barker

CONNECTICUT VA Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven (203) 937-3438 Manager: Amanda Salthouse

DELAWARE Fisher House for Families of the Fallen Dover Air Force Base (302) 922-1900 Manager: TSgt Kayla Hemmesch



(202) 745-2482 Manager: Stacey Childs

FLORIDA Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (727) 319-1350 Manager: Shentrela Diggins Eglin Air Force Base Hospital (850) 883-2865 Manager: Marc Ambrose James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Tampa (813) 910-3000 Manager: Sean Kelly Miami VA Healthcare System (305) 575-7260 Manager: Richie Sanchez North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System Gainesville (352) 548-6492 Manager: Michelle Howard Orlando VA Medical Center (407) 631-9800 Manager: Terri Turner West Palm Beach VA Medical Center (561) 422-5554 Manager: Shelley Prickett

GEORGIA Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Augusta (706) 729-5773 Manager: Courtney Deese Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fort Gordon (706) 787-7100 Manager: Francisco Cruz

HAWAII Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu (808) 433-1291 x28 Manager: Misty Hironaka

ILLINOIS Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Hines (708) 202-7154 Manager: Holly Wright





Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Fort Campbell (270) 798-8330 Manager: Wendy J. Carlston

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System Omaha (402) 930-7116 Manager: Colleen Vonderhaar

VA Portland Health Care System (360) 567-4647 Manager: Kelly Konikow

VA Salt Lake City Health Care System (801) 588-5900 Manager: Quinn Kiger-Good

LOUISIANA Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System New Orleans (504) 507-6020 Manager: Debra Ceaser-Winbush

MAINE VA Maine Healthcare System Augusta (207) 623-8411 Manager: Patrick Crowley

MARYLAND Malcolm Grow Clinics & Surgery Center Andrews Air Force Base (301) 981-1243 Manager: Jenny Hall

NEVADA VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System North Las Vegas (702) 224-6789 Manager: Stephanie Jo Wheeler

NEW MEXICO Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center Albuquerque (505) 265-1711 x3180 Manager: Christina Ramirez

NEW YORK Albany Stratton VA Medical Center (518) 626-6919 Manager: Michael Fitzpatrick

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda (301) 295-5334 Manager: Michael Ybarra

James J. Peters VA Medical Center Bronx (718) 584-9000 x2037 or x2039 Manager: Ellen Trbovich

Walter Reed Forest Glen Annex Silver Spring (301) 319-5442 Manager: Maurice Borde

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (910) 450-3885 Manager: Josie Cotton

MASSACHUSETTS VA Boston Healthcare System (857) 203-4000 Manager: Elizabeth St. Pierre

MICHIGAN VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (734) 845-3055 Manager: April LaRock

MINNESOTA Minneapolis VA Health Care System (612) 467-5602 Manager: David Mason

MISSISSIPPI Keesler Medical Center (228) 377-8264 Manager: Larry Vetter

MISSOURI VA St. Louis Health Care System (314) 894-6145 Manager: Vanniecia Brown


Womack Army Medical Center Fort Bragg (910) 849-3466 Manager: Vivian Wilson

OHIO Cincinnati VA Medical Center (513) 475-6571 Manager: Karrie Hagan Dayton VA Medical Center (937) 268-6511 x2887 Manager: Betsey Striebel Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (216) 707-4800 x. 67705 Manager: Tyler Estell Wright-Patterson Medical Center (937) 257-0855 Manager: Karen Healea

PENNSYLVANIA VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (412) 360-2030 Manager: Heather Frantz

VIRGINIA Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (703) 805-5203 Manager: Roxannamaria Calderon

SOUTHCAROLINA Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Charleston (843) 805-8200 Manager: Jacalyn Slemmer

TENNESSEE Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Murfreesboro (615) 225-5758 Manager: Becky Wood

TEXAS Brooke Army Medical Center Joint Base San Antonio (210) 916-6000 Manager: Inge Godfrey Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Fort Hood (254) 220-6985 Manager: Steve Wakefield

Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Richmond (804) 675-6639 Manager: Wayne Walker Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (757) 953-6889 Manager: Jill Thompson

WASHINGTON Madigan Army Medical Center Joint Base Lewis-McChord (253) 964-9283 x11 Acting Manager: Meilyn Diaz VA Puget Sound Health Care System Seattle (206) 768-5353 Manager: Christopher Spaulding


Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Houston (713) 794-7784 Manager: Shanna Floyd

Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center Huntington (304) 429-6741 x8700 Manager: Jason Wyant

South Texas Veterans Health Care System San Antonio (210) 617-5542 Manager: Erik Zielinski


VA North Texas Health Care System Dallas (214) 857-4400 Manager: Lydia Henderson


Zablocki VA Medical Center Milwaukee (414) 384-2000 x45005 or x45006 Manager: Jennifer Kiefer

Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center - San Antonio Military Medical Center Lackland Air Force Base (210) 671-6037 Manager: Philip Harralson William Beaumont Army Medical Center Fort Bliss (915) 742-1860 Manager: Alice Coleman

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center 011-49-6371-9464-7430 fax: 011-49-6371-866679 Manager: Sarafina Buchanan

UNITED KINGDOM Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham 0121-472-6217 fax: 0121-41306897 Manager: Patrick Hogan



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: 413,000 families served | $525 million in savings | 10 million nights of lodging


★ ★(2) ★

★(2) ★

★ ★(2)

★(2) ★

★(2) ★(2)

★ ★★ ★ ★(2) ★


★★(2) ★ ★

★ ★

★ ★ ★ ★(2)


★Birmingham, UK

★ ★



★(4) (3)★★


★(2) ★

★ ★ ★★(2) ★ ★


Landstuhl, Germany

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

* As of April 1, 2021 | (888) 294-8560

Articles inside

The Patriot Volume 12, Issue 1 article cover image

The Patriot Volume 12, Issue 1

page 27
Fisher House Salutes GI Go Fund article cover image

Fisher House Salutes GI Go Fund

page 16
Volunteer Tribute: Steve Kuykendall article cover image

Volunteer Tribute: Steve Kuykendall

page 21
Hotels for Heroes helps Navy family care for premature son article cover image

Hotels for Heroes helps Navy family care for premature son

page 25
Hero of Fort Hood shooting reflects on Fisher House support article cover image

Hero of Fort Hood shooting reflects on Fisher House support

pages 18-19
MEET THE MANAGER: Lori Erickson article cover image


page 15
AFW2 Caregivers Share How They Collectively Heal During Virtual Panel article cover image

AFW2 Caregivers Share How They Collectively Heal During Virtual Panel

page 14
Fisher House founders sketched cartoon article cover image

Fisher House founders sketched cartoon

page 13
Three Wise Men: One Family’s Story of Service and Sacrifice article cover image

Three Wise Men: One Family’s Story of Service and Sacrifice

pages 12-13
Adaptive Athletes Train Hard for Invictus Despite Covid Restrictions article cover image

Adaptive Athletes Train Hard for Invictus Despite Covid Restrictions

pages 10-11
Meet the Staff: Irnaliz Aquino article cover image

Meet the Staff: Irnaliz Aquino

page 9
Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal article cover image

Peace of Mind and a Place to Heal

page 8
Around-the-world cancer fight lands Air Force family in Fisher House article cover image

Around-the-world cancer fight lands Air Force family in Fisher House

pages 6-7
Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine article cover image

Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine

page 5
Social Media Support article cover image

Social Media Support

pages 4-5
Letter From Ken Fisher article cover image

Letter From Ken Fisher

page 3