Air Force Family Rallies Around Special Operator COVER STORY (Featured on page 16) 2022 VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 Invictus Games are back for athletes, families (Story featured on page 10) Fisher House helps spinal injury patients (Story featured on page 14) Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher award goes to ‘What To Expect ’ (Story featured on page 30) THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF FISHER HOUSE TM FOUNDATION, INC. fisherhouse.org THE PATRIOT
FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
David A. Coker
CHIEF OF STAFF
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
About Fisher House Foundation, Inc.
Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room, and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since its inception, the program has saved military and veteran families an estimated $547 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 an awards 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
$547 MILLION Savings for families in lodging and transportation costs
11.5 MILLION Nights of lodging offered
430,000 Families served
92 Fisher Houses in operation
The statistics in this graphic reflect the Fisher House program’s impact since inception.
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.
by Craig Orsini at orsinistudio.com
Social Media Support 2 In Their Own Words: Vietnam Veteran Marks Holidays and Birthdays at Cleveland Fisher House 4 Meet the Program Manager 6 Meet the Staff 7 Day In the Life 2022 Photo Contest 8 The Story Behind the Managers’ Choice 9 Invictus Games the Hague: 2020 in 2022 10 Hotels for Heroes 12 Fisher House 2022 Golf Classic 13 Combat Veteran Says Fisher House is Essential to Spinal Cord-Injured Vets 14 Cover Story: Air Force Family Supports Brother Wounded in Afghanistan 16 Fisher House Salutes 18 Community Groups in Action 19 Hearts in the Community 20 Journal Entries & Letters 22 Fisher House Managers Training 24 Meet the Manager 25 House Round Up 26 Construction Updates 29 What to Expect Founders Receive Humanitarian Award 30 Ways to Give this Holiday Season 31 Location Guide 32 Contents
Cover Photo: Cover photo
LETTER FROM KEN FISHER
For 32 years, we have had the great honor of serving our greatest national treasure: our military service men and women and their loved ones. Together, we have built 92 houses that have provided over 11.5 million nights of lodging to our heroes and their loved ones during their most difficult times.
That is why I am so proud to officially announce that we are on the road to 100 Fisher Houses. With 92 houses complete and more in the planning and design phase, we are well on our way to that goal. We also have identified other locations that can serve families far beyond. As we continue our journey, we will celebrate this milestone with you. We are grateful for everyone that came together to make this possible. You — our friends and supporters — have made an incredible impact.
This has been an exciting year with more and more activities resuming. Fisher Houses that opened during the pandemic have finally had an opportunity to celebrate. Houses that were not able to have official groundbreaking ceremonies had topping-off ceremonies, placing the final framing beam over the front entrance, signed with the well wishes of the supporting community. Construction began in Columbia, Missouri this year and other houses are not far behind. So many supporters across the country resumed their fundraisers, from golf tournaments to barbecues. Thank you to everyone who is part of this magnificent effort. Our military and veteran families continue to need this invaluable resource.
As my Uncle Zach said, “There is a dignity and a majesty in the efforts of all our Armed Forces, and it is well for us to remember the noble deeds of those who have worn the uniform.”
Thank you for working with us to honor all those who have served, along with their families who serve, too.
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 three 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 18th consecutive year, a rating achieved by less than 1% of the charities in the country that it monitors. Only 13 charities have been so highly rated for 18 years.
Fisher House Foundation earned the 2022 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by Candid, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. Additionally, WalletHub selected Fisher House Foundation as the Best Charity to Donate to for Veterans in 2021 and 2022.
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 1
SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT
“God bless the Fishers for Fisher Homes! You help so many wounded military, you also allow for their families. Your devotion is amazing! Plus, it’s greatly appreciated by so many!! God bless you!!!” — Jerri Guthrie
“I spend months at Vancouver Fisher House....they are the BEST. Happy Birthday, Fisher House One.” — Roswitha
“There are no words to express our gratitude to Fisher House. A home away from home when we felt we had nowhere to turn.” — Sheila Drolson
“I stayed in a Fisher home when my husband was in VA hospital in Dayton. It was wonderful. No cost and kitchen full of food.” — Ginny Rude
“God bless you, David for volunteering to teach the families how to fish” — Terry Jackson
“So grateful, I was blessed to have been able to stay in San Antonio with my husband during his stay at the VA hospital. If it hadn’t been for the Fisher House, I wouldn’t have been able to. Thank you! The staff and guests were amazing, we were family.”
— Rosario R. Gonzalez
“We will always love the organization. Our child was medically evacuated when we were stationed on Okinawa to Hawaii, the only hospital in the region that could handle his diagnosis. We were $10k out of pocket in hotel costs until we finally found an opening at the Fisher House Tripler. Saved us in many ways. Thank you for your indomitable kindness, lodging, meals, and fellowship with now lifelong friends made there.”
— Vanessa Darden Webber
God bless his memory. A philanthropic patriot. His legacy endures with each veteran whose family’s burden is eased. #SemperFidelis #GodBlessAmerica
Great cause and even better people..... — @TK|pasqualespano|YF
Thank you all for the work you do to take care of these families! — @ChrisUS
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David Rooker was the recipient of the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Award. He volunteers in Alaska where he teaches interested guests how to fly fish and to tie their own flies.
So grateful for such a wonderful charity that has helped me numerous times while getting treatment at Walter Reed and Bethesda!
— Jordan Enger
Such a wonderful beautiful place to heal and to provide care and comfort to soldiers and family members!
In Sep 2014, I had a total knee replacement at Wright Patterson AF Base — my family members who lived in Akron and Cincinnati were able to come and stay here while I went through my surgery and healing. I will be forever grateful! Thank you!! — LORA
Thanks Fisher House and volunteers for helping me in difficult moments in my life. “Soldier for Life”. — ramosjj098
Thank you Ken Fisher & everyone at @fisherhousefdtn for all you do.
Great Message by a Great Foundation. Support our Vets — jefftisch
OUR DEEPEST CONDOLENCES
With the deepest sadness, we inform you of the passing of Audrey Fisher. She passed away peacefully on May 14 with family at her side. Audrey was a truly kind, gentle, and generous woman who shared the Fisher family’s commitment to those who have served our nation. A Vice-Chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, she served as a Fisher House Ambassador since 2003, continually visiting all the Fisher Houses worldwide, sharing thanks and appreciation. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing her will always remember her warmth and unfailingly positive and outgoing personality.
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Vietnam Veteran marks holidays and birthdays at Cleveland Fisher House
This story is from Gloria and David Yagger. David is a veteran who was diagnosed with cancer that necessitated almost two months of treatment in Cleveland, Ohio. The couple spent the entirety of the 2020-2021 holiday season at the Cleveland Fisher House.
David was diagnosed in August 2020 with adenoid cystic carcinoma and our life changed. After seeing several specialists, we were sent to Cleveland Clinic because he needed to see a deep skull surgeon. After several appointments, we were told that surgery wasn’t an option and David would need 35 treatments of radiation.
After meeting with a social worker, she suggested the Fisher House would be the best place for us to spend our 54 days in
Cleveland. It is very hard to express in words what the Fisher House has done for my husband and me. With masks, hand sanitizer, and all that goes along with the COVID-19, we all endured. The staff of the Fisher House made all of the residents going through the same uncertainty feel like family. It was truly a blessing.
Nick, one of the staff members, made us Thanksgiving dinner, a surprise spaghetti dinner (which included Nick’s closelyguarded secret meatball recipe) on a Sunday night, and on New Year’s Day, he made shrimp scampi. Miss Henry and Drew surprised David on his birthday with balloons, muffins, and a birthday song. The staff was so nice and just treated us like kings and queens.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Story and photos courtesy Gloria and David Yagger
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Left: David Yagger poses in a special Christmas outfit. Right: Nick Sambogna prepares meals for Fisher House families on Thanksgiving.
To have your own room, bathroom, and access to a community kitchen was amazing. The refrigerator and freezer were always stocked with food to prepare our meals.
We tried to keep to a routine as much as possible. We are frequent walkers, typically walking three to four miles a day at our home in Sinclairville, New York. The friends we made at the house walking daily outside, when possible, or up and down the halls of the home. They could never believe our age at the Fisher House. One of the residents’ wives said, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you guys.”
We loved helping the staff keep everything sanitized. We were able to help wipe down the counters and microwaves and kept our own room clean. Yolanda, one of the housekeepers, always told us that we didn’t need to help, but it gave us something to pass the time and also to give back to the staff for all they did for us.
When you are together with other people dealing with the same stress, it is such a blessing to have a place like the Fisher House to feel safe, loved, and blessed by so many wonderful people. God gave us the Fisher House during this time of our lives, and we say, “THANK YOU.”
Left: David and Gloria Yagger were known at the Cleveland VA Fisher House for Bible studying and long walks, even as they went through the long fight against cancer.
Right: The Thanksgiving spread at the Fisher House helped the Yaggers enjoy the holidays while fighting cancer at the VA.
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David Yagger on his birthday at the Cleveland VA Fisher House.
Meet the Program Manager: Pam Bruner, Navy
and Marine Corps Fisher House
A month after retiring from her first career at the Navy Exchange, Pam Bruner saw a job posting for Navy and Marine Corps Fisher House Program Manager as part of the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC). In her heart, she knew she wanted to serve again and was ready for a new chapter in life.
“I would tell people I want to work with wounded warriors, the Marine Corps liaison office, or Fisher House,” Pam Bruner said.
As the Navy Exchange General Manager for the Bethesda and Metro DC area for 27 years, she saw firsthand how the war affected injured service members and their families. In 2009, Pam was heavily involved with the Marine Corps liaison unit. She also met a Fisher House manager. With that introduction, Pam toured the Fisher House for the first time. This sequence of events left an impression on a future vision.
“After being at Bethesda and seeing the families and patients at the hospital as well as those we who served at the Exchange and Navy Lodge, I wanted to find a way to continue to help serving our military members.”
Shortly after stepping into the program in 2010, Fisher House Foundation opened three new 20 guest room houses in addition to the two original eight guest room houses on the campus at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Currently, she oversees ten Navy and Marine Corps Fisher Houses with 116 guest rooms. She continues to watch the program and her staff grow and cherishes her role.
“I have the best of both worlds. I write policies, procedures, help managers with questions or concerns, or provide guidance on a specific issue they may need my guidance and much more.”
Pam prepares information papers to keep Navy leadership aware and involved in the program, and also gets to be with the managers and families in the field. When Pam visits houses, she meets families and likes to see Fisher House managers in action. She says this part of the job is rewarding, especially working with
people with similar compassion and understanding. She works hard to ensure that the managers are involved in the business aspects of the program. Managers receive training so they understand those aspects and can be efficient with that part of their job so that they can also focus on the families.
“I always tell my staff I am there to help you, to make sure you have all the right tools, and that everything works the way it needs to work so that you have time with the families.”
A few years ago, the Navy managers attended the Warrior Games. It allowed Navy Fisher House managers to see families come full circle. Pam said after Fisher House managers attended, they were re-invigorated.
“They were at the worst of times, and now they are getting to see them at the best of times in a whole different light.”
Pam has some fond memories of visiting Fisher Houses. She says one of those times, she watched a double amputee jump from his wheelchair onto the bed in excitement. He wanted to show her the positive impact of having a bedroom that fit his needs.
“The best part of my job is being a part of something greater than most people can understand.”
Pam is not the only one in her family dedicated to serving others. Four years ago, she married Mike Bruner, the Navy’s Gold Star Program Manager. Pam lights up when she talks about how she met Mike one morning, grabbing coffee in the kitchen at the Washington Navy Yard. She says they would have met years earlier, but circumstances led them to meet at the perfect time.
“It is an honor and privilege to give back to those who serve!”
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Story by Christy Wilcox
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.
Denise Dolan Vice President of Development
Having spent more than 30 years in nonprofits, I could not be prouder to work at Fisher House Foundation, where I wake up every day and think about how I can best tell the story to move people to support our mission of helping military families.
Whether it is Josh, whom I met in Bethesda, who was hit by an IED in Iraq, or baby Olivia in San Diego, who was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with leukemia, the stories repeatedly touch the hearts of so many of you.
My grandfather, Francis “Tennessee” Basler, was a farm boy who had not left the state of Missouri until he was drafted in June 1941. He soon found himself in jungle warfare in the South Pacific, coming home in December 1945 after receiving the Bronze Star Medal. He refused to talk about the war, but sometimes when he was sleeping, he would return to the jungle in his dreams. Recognizing it now, he suffered from PTSD.
Today, it is an honor to work on behalf of military families, many of whom suffer from the repercussions of the battlefield as my family experienced.
An honorable man, he was proud to be an American and of the simple comforts he was able to provide for his family. When my little brother, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Tennessee drove us back and forth to the hospital. Understanding the impact a medical crisis had on my family, I often see my face in the faces of the siblings of an ill child at Fisher House.
Today we are working hard to provide a haven for our nation’s heroes in the following cities: Lexington, Kentucky; Columbia, South Carolina; Bay Pines, Florida; and Columbia, Missouri, and we are always seeking individuals and companies who can help. Whether it is your monthly gift, letting us know you put Fisher House in your will, or connecting us with those who can help us build the next Fisher House, we could not do what we do without you.
Fisher House Vice President Denise Dolan stands with recipients of the Scholarships for Military Children program administered by Fisher House Foundation. The scholarship provides $2,000 each to 500 military dependents. This year, the San Diego Padres Foundation and Dollar Shave Club were some sponsors of the program. The top sponsors of the program to date are the 522 Foundation, Inc.; PwC Charitable Foundation; Synchrony Foundation; Proctor & Gamble; and the Major General Harry
Greene AUSA Aberdeen Chapter.
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Denise with Team Ukraine at the 2022 Warrior Games in Orlando, FL
DAY IN THE LIFE 2022 PHOTO CONTEST
Each year the Foundation sponsors a “Day in the Life” photo contest to visually showcase the Fisher House mission. It’s often hard to describe the trials, camaraderie, and bonds formed, so we’ve reached out to the Fisher Houses to help show that through photos. Here, we highlight the winners.
MANAGERS’ CHOICE Naval Medical Center San Diego Fisher House
Marine Jacob “George” Meek was involved in a hit-and-run accident the day after Christmas. He suffered major injuries, had a number of surgeries, and was in a coma for two weeks. In this photo, George is waking up, showing the first signs of life with open eyes, and signaling strength with a fist. Devoted parents, Wade and Laurel, were bedside the entire journey with the daily mantra of “miracles happen” and with every passing day George proved this to be true which turned the phrase into “Miracles DO happen!” George is currently closer to family and friends in Wisconsin for rehabilitation; he is not only walking but running with the determination to return to the Marine Corps after therapy.
STAFF PICK 1st RUNNER UP
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Fisher House
Small and mighty, these twin NICU warriors grew stronger together. A medical emergency at 25 weeks in the pregnancy led to only two more weeks within the womb. They were born at 27 weeks, weighing just over 1 pound each. The twins thrived together with fierce love and spirit and have a world of adventure ahead of them.
STAFF PICK 2nd RUNNER UP
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Fisher House
Army Pfc. Coda Hensley and his wife, Joann, cuddle together in the Landstuhl Fisher House while watching a movie after Coda’s pre-operation appointment.
STAFF PICK 3rd RUNNER UP
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fisher House at Madigan Army Medical Center
A family at Joint Base Lewis-McChord enjoyed the playground after a series of rainy days. Lincoln was excited to get to spend some time playing outside on the Fisher House playground.
These are just the winners from our votes! There are more photo submissions on our website at fisherhouse.org. Do you think you have a great photo from your Fisher House stay? Photos taken between May 2022 and May 2023 are eligible for our next photo contest. Let your house manager know if you have a great shot that you’d like to share.
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Looking through “A Day in the Life” photos submitted by Fisher House managers, each one leaves an impression. Some pictures sad, others happy, but the winning photo nearly needs no caption at all. The picture shows Marine Corps Corporal Jacob “George” Meek, intubated, waking up from a two-week coma, pumping his fist in his hospital bed. Next to him are his parents, smiling at his hospital bedside.
“Pretty much a month before the accident and pretty much a month after the accident is completely blank,” George Meek said.
The day after Christmas last year, Laurel Meek got a phone call that no mother wants: her son was at Sharp Memorial Hospital in intensive care. A car hit George when he was walking across the street by the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. His buddy ran to get help while others directed traffic. George was quickly taken to the nearest hospital. The accident left him with no memory of the months surrounding the incident, but his parents, stricken by grief, know every detail from the date of his injury.
“I was in shock and terrified and it was probably the worst moment in my life.” Laurel Meek said.
George had a broken leg and pelvis. He also had bleeding and swelling of the brain and suffered a serious traumatic brain injury. Unsure of COVID-19 restrictions, Laurel asked if she could see her son.
AWAKE AFTER TWO-WEEK COMA, JACOB MEEK PUMPS HIS FIST
A nurse said it was imperative the family fly to the hospital in San Diego, where George was recovering.
As they watched and waited for positive news, they traveled to and from their hometown. They spent nearly six weeks at the Fisher House in San Diego while George was in the hospital before he was transferred to the Minneapolis VA hospital for therapy.
“Laurel would be in Minneapolis on the weekends, and I would be up there Monday through Thursday. It’s been a long six months,” said Wade Meek, George’s father.
Wade said he was only awake for a few minutes after the photo op. Wade said they took a lot of photos, trying to send positive moments to family and friends who were curious about George’s progress.
“I didn’t want to send out negative stuff. We had to search every day for that one glimmer of positive that happened that day,” Laurel said.
Tiana Babcock manages Fisher House San Diego. Over the past five years, Tiana has supported families, “…whether it’s a baby being born prematurely, a training accident, or a cancer diagnosis, we see all walks of life here,” Tiana said.
Through this journey, the Meek family brought positivity to the Fisher House, essential in a time when people had little interaction with masks and social distancing. Tiana said the Meeks’ optimism was infectious, allowing other
families to be more optimistic about the outcome of their patients too.
“They are one of a kind, they had an incredibly tragic experience happen with their son and they remained purely optimistic throughout the whole process.”
Tiana said as she received photos of George’s progress from the Meeks, and she wanted to share the positive outcome too. She decided to submit George’s awakening photo to “A Day in the Life” Fisher House photo contest. The contest gives Fisher House Managers an opportunity to submit a photo that represents a day in the life at a Fisher House.
“I wanted to showcase George’s resiliency because that’s what I saw in every single picture that Laurel shared with me,” Tiana said.
The house that wins the photo contest gets a grant to support house activities that better support families. Tiana said she has submitted photos in the past, but this was the first time they won.
“It shows his strength and his power, and then to see Laurel and Wade smiling with masks off, that really resonated with me because I only saw them with masks on.”
Seven months after the accident, George returned to San Diego and to the Marine Corps. He’s been running, doing pullups and even wakeboarding in preparation for heading back to work where he will continue his progress at Wounded Warrior West.
THE MANAGERS’ CHOICE
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Story by Christy Wilcox
INVICTUS GAMES THE HAGUE: 2020 IN 2022
After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, The Hague, Netherlands hosted the Invictus Games this past April. The Invictus Games are an international event where athletes from different nations’ militaries compete in adaptive sports. Seventeen nations participated in 2022 with more than 500 service members and veterans giving their all in ten different categories. Thanks to Fisher House Foundation, Team US had their families there to cheer them on.
Fisher House Foundation has supported Team US and their families in every iteration since the first Invictus Games were held in London in 2014 by providing uniforms for staff and athletes and flights and lodging through Fisher House’s Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs. Fisher House also provides spirit wear and meals for the families.
“Adaptive sports play an important role in the health and wellbeing of these service members and athletes but having their family members nearby during the journey is essential,” said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. “By supporting competitors and their families at the Invictus Games, we help them come full circle. We were there for them at the beginning when the injury or illness led them to need a Fisher House, and now we are here to celebrate their victories, together.”
At this year’s Invictus Games, there was an overarching theme of opening the conversation and breaking down barriers. Officially called, “the Invictus Community: using the power of sport to break down barriers around disability,” the conversation began with a series of panel discussions shortly after the games began.
Fisher House Foundation’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Tish Stropes hosted one of the discussions that centered on the importance of family during the healing process. Two Fisher House guests, Paralympic medalist Ellie Marks and her husband, Army veteran Mason Heibel, shared their thoughts about how crucial families were during their journeys. Other members of the Invictus Games community also spoke out about mental health and how their caregivers helped them survive the trauma they had been through.
“Families are not optional, but are critical on the path to recovery,” Tish emphasized.
Throughout the games, competitors, families, and supporters were encouraged to keep the conversation going by resting on a yellow bench and talking with someone they knew or had just met.
Story by Michelle Horn
10 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
Photos by Michelle Horn and David Nye
Army veteran Joel Rodriguez and his wife, Liannie, were stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 2014 when they were in a horrific car accident. While Liannie suffered some minor scratches, Joel was left with a spinal cord injury that made him a quadriplegic. His unyielding drive and the support and love of his family brought him to the Invictus Games. In The Hague, Joel competed in field, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.
everyone had an important role. Liannie’s mom, Lillian Cruz, was Joel’s non-medical attendant, so her daughter could focus on the little ones.
“Fisher House has been a blessing to us,” said Lillian. “It brings us a better life and we certainly appreciate it. We’re so grateful.”
In 2018, Marine veteran Carlos Jimenez was stationed in Cherry Point, North Carolina when he was in a horrible motorcycle accident that eventually led to the amputation of his right leg. Just four years later, this father of two small children found himself at the Invictus Games in The Hague competing in four events: field, sitting volleyball, swimming, and wheelchair basketball. Between the accident and his incredible recovery, first his wife, Yasiris, then the two of them together, stayed at the Fisher House at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
During his treatment, Joel and Liannie stayed at the Embassy Suites near the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida using Fisher House Foundation’s Hotels for Heroes program because the closest Fisher House was under renovation. During this terribly difficult time, as Joel transitioned from active duty to civilian life, Liannie traveled back to Fort Rucker, Alabama, and moved their entire household.
“It was a whole big process of obviously grief and doing all that. But, definitely he’s 100% a warrior spirit and that made my job as a caregiver, my job as a wife, just to be there that much easier because you feed off each other,” she explained.
Now, Joel and his family continue to recover through adaptive sports.
“Our life revolves around adaptive sports,” said Liannie. “So much good comes out of it, you know? We get to travel; we get to be together. We get to be in the same community, and he’s a huge advocate for adaptive sports because it really gives you purpose.”
“Your mind is focused on doing something and doing something good. And through that, it makes him stronger. It makes all of us stronger. To see your spouse just flourishing and shining and having a purpose and living. You go through an injury, and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Joel had a big fan club supporting him at the Invictus Games including Liannie, her parents, his mother, her sister, and their two young children, Elijah and Leila. In this tight-knit family,
“I feel like we didn’t realize how much it would affect his mental health. So, you don’t realize that, and after you’re just like, oh, okay. He’s going to be an amputee, but it’s more that comes along with it. So, he needed help with both his physical and mental health,” said Yasiris. “I feel like the Fisher House will always be something big in our life, because it’s already hard enough to go what we had to go through as his caregiver during that time, you don’t want to deal with a hotel and all the other headaches.”
Carlos agreed that Fisher House made a huge difference.
“When you compare what they had to go through in Wilmington, in the civilian hospital,” he said. “She was sleeping in the hospital room with me and my daughter for a month. There wasn’t anything there. It was just me and her and the little couch.”
Carlos had a lot of family members cheering him on at the Games. His wife, sister, mother, and niece were all there to celebrate how far he had come since his accident and how they were able to be there with him as a family.
Speaking of bringing his family to the Invictus Games, Carlos shared how grateful he was to have his family with him.
“I honestly was really grateful,” he said. “This is an amazing opportunity to have, and to be able to share with your family, it makes it that much better.”
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Top: Joel Rodriguez with is mother-in-law, mother, son, and daughter after receiving the Gold Medal for wheelchair basketball. Right: Carlos Jimenez with his family after receiving the Gold Medal in wheelchair basketball. Carlos’ mother and wife cheer him on at the Invictus Games.
HOTELS FOR HEROES PROGRAM HELPS FISHER HOUSES CONTINUE THEIR MISSION
When Jim Graham reflects on his time as a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, you can hear a bit of sarcasm in his voice. In 1965, he entered the Army just before he turned 19. In 1967, he went to Vietnam. He said he was doing engineering work but soon volunteered for a more exhilarating task.
“I had the opportunity because they had some openings to be a door gunner,” Jim Graham said.
Nearly 50 years later, in 2017, Jim was diagnosed with lymphoma. Fortunately, doctors caught his cancer in early stages. Doctors believe it was caused by exposure to Agent Orange. He says the diagnosis did not come as a surprise.
“I had thyroid cancer when I was 27, shortly after getting out of the service. Nobody in my family had ever had any kind of cancer.”
He said he found his young cancer diagnosis strange but did not know of his exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam.
After his most recent lymphoma diagnosis, Jim started to see doctors every three months. He also had his lymph gland surgically removed. Now he sees doctors for a check in once every six months.
Jim and his wife, Susan Dyer, live in Mexico. To get to his appointment, they make the trek from Mexico to Southern California, where he receives treatment at the La Jolla Veterans Affairs Hospital.
When Jim and Susan visit Southern California, they stay at the Camp Pendleton Fisher House. But when the Fisher House is fully booked, they participate in the Hotels for Heroes program. The program allows them to stay in a
comfortable hotel near his treatment facility until a room opens at the Fisher House.
“A real lifesaver for us,” Susan said.
Susan says she often tells people to donate their leftover air miles and hotel points to Fisher House before they expire.
“If you’re not going to use them; if they’re going to expire because they can translate into rooms, other things for veterans that need it.”
Hotels for Heroes, which uses donated hotel points to pay for hotels, along with Hero Miles, which uses donated frequent flyer miles to purchase airline tickets, have saved nearly $118 million for military and veteran families since inception.
To learn more about donating hotel points or airline miles go to FisherHouse.org and click on the programs tab for more information about Hotels for Heroes and Hero Miles.
Hotels for Heroes
Hotels for Heroes supports anyone who would be eligible to stay at a Fisher House that is at full occupancy.
Story and Photos by Christy Wilcox
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 12
G lfers Raise Money for Military Families
On Monday, May 2, golfers came together at The Golf Club at Lansdowne in Virginia to play and raise money for military and veteran families in the 19th Annual Fisher House Golf Classic. Individuals and corporate donors sponsored foursomes and donated items for a silent auction, including travel packages, gift certificates, and more.
“Special thanks to all of the sponsors, including presidential sponsor SAP, platinum sponsor Oshkosh Defense; airline sponsor United Airlines, and everyone who makes this event great every year in support of military and veteran families,” said Denise Dolan, vice president of development for Fisher House Foundation. “We can do more for our nation’s heroes because of this generosity.”
Thanks to everyone who joined us this year! The 20th Annual Fisher House Golf Classic will be on Monday, May 1, 2023, and we are now accepting corporate sponsorships. Please forward any interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 13
Combat Veteran Fisher House Essential is to Spinal Cord-Injured Vets
A short walk away from the Milwaukee Fisher House, a banner hangs outside the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center that reads, “Heroes Live Here.” An American flag hangs on the exterior of the VA building, where the third floor hosts a large room full of equipment helping a particular group of patients — veterans with spinal cord injuries. Dr. Kenneth Lee, the head of the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury Division at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration Medical Center, says Fisher House plays an essential role in veteran care.
“When it comes to taking care of spinal cord veterans, it’s about getting them doing activities. And when it comes to people in a wheelchair, one of the biggest challenges they have is staying active.”
Inside the hospital, a long hallway leads to an atypical equipment room with various recumbent trikes for veterans who have lost mobility. Dr. Lee gets his hands dirty, greasing a chain on one trike. He smiles as he holds up his greasy hands and says, “the price we pay to take care of veterans.” He says he trikes about 20 miles a day. As a combat veteran and primary provider in his household, Dr. Lee knows how difficult it is to recover from severe combat injury.
“I wish more people knew about the Fisher House and not find out the way that I did, which is, you know, you got hit with something, and then Fisher House showed up,” Dr. Lee said. Milwaukee Fisher House Manager, Jennifer Keifer, recognizes how helpful it is to have Dr. Lee as head of SCI.
“He’s a huge advocate for our Fisher House so even doing outreach there, I know that he knows firsthand what it is like for these families and how blessed they are to be so close.”
In college, Dr. Lee’s father, who served in Korea, asked him to find a path to civil service. As a result, he joined the Illinois Army National Guard, which was a life-altering decision. When Dr. Lee entered medical school, he got commissioned as an officer. His career started as the Division Chief of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), but he left after receiving activation orders to Iraq.
On April 12, 2004, his unit ran medical samples to Baghdad’s Green Zone when an infantry unit stopped them because of a roadside bomb.
“Usually, I actually turn back or find another route to get to my destination, but in this particular case, I decided to stay and augment the security team,” Dr. Lee said.
A suicide bomber in a vehicle approached his unit and detonated a bomb, severely injuring several soldiers, including Dr. Lee. A crew medevaced him to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Later, he spent four months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. When Dr. Lee talks about his numerous surgeries and months of rehabilitation, the focus of his concern was not his recovery.
“You know, most of us who are injured and, recovering, yes, we care about our body and what’s happening… but when I heard my wife is coming, all that didn’t matter,” Dr. Lee said. “ The most important thing was is somebody going to take care of her.”
The Army National Guard brought his wife to Washington D.C., and he wanted reassurance she had a place to stay. When he brought this to the attention of hospital staff, they told him Fisher House provided a room for her.
“I’m like Fisher House; what the heck is a Fisher House, you know?”
At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he was scared to see his wife and children because of the sanitary look and feel of the hospital. They were about to see him in the worst condition of his life. He said Fisher House changed that dynamic by allowing them to see each other in a home-like setting. Later in his recovery, he got to visit them too. At Fisher House, he says his kids were more joyous while his wife cried with relief.
Jennifer says that VA patients are sometimes skeptical about getting an offer to stay in a government-run facility. They invite those guests to see the house in person,
Story by Christy Wilcox
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 14
Photos by Christy Wilcox and courtesy Dr. Kenneth Lee
which offers a fresh perspective. When veterans stay over before treatment, she says it gives them peace of mind knowing their loved one is safe.
“ They’re not just staying in a hotel and worrying about checkout times or check-in times or finances. They literally can come here and go to bed at night with very little to worry about as far as their stay.”
Through his experience, he sees Fisher House as essential to service members. The VA in Milwaukee, for example, serves nearly 400 spinal cord-injured veterans. These types of patients often have a lot of equipment. Not just wheelchairs, but other necessities that may not fit in a hotel room, or they may travel with a caregiver.
“Many of our guys that travel cannot just come in and then go home. There’s a lot of travel needs, especially high tetraplegic patients who are a hundred percent dependent on somebody to even transfer them in and out of a vehicle.”
For veterans with a loss of mobility, caregivers need extensive training that often takes days at the VA hospital.
“Caregiver fatigue is real, and it’s tough.” He says a stay at Fisher House means caregivers get much-needed rest while patients receive care at the hospital.
“In the past, before Fisher House, we tried to find the cheapest motel so they could stay, so they didn’t incur a huge financial burden. After the Fisher house, that problem has been gone.”
He says leaving his unit in the military was a difficult decision, but the journey after his injury has also helped him heal.
“Anybody that helped me during that time, I love them for that. But anyone who helps my spouse, wife, and loved ones — they take up a notch, and that’s where the Fisher House made an impression on me. I am grateful for Fisher House.”
Dr. Kenneth Lee was a patient in Washington, D.C. when he first learned about Fisher House. His wife was with him, supporting his recovery from an attack by a suicide bomber, and he wanted to make sure she had somewhere safe to stay. Now, he makes sure his patients know about Fisher House and that their families are able to stay there.
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Air Force Family Supports Brother Wounded in Afghanistan
Story by David Nye
Photos by Craig Orsini
August O’Niell’s family is filled with service members and veterans. He and his brother are Air Force pararescuemen and his mom, dad, and stepdad are all Air Force veterans, so the family knew the risk of getting the call that no one wants. Still, they all remember where they were when they got the news that August, while attempting to pull a wounded soldier out of a firefight, suffered leg wounds from a burst of machinegun fire in Afghanistan. His mom, Deborah, got the news first and called her oldest son, Robert, to try and get news of what was happening.
Robert was already on his way to his unit headquarters. “I’m backing out of the driveway. I see my mom calling on the cell phone. I knew something was wrong. I answered the phone. She was crying. She wasn’t screaming and yelling, but she was freaking out and saying, ‘Something’s happened to August. I don’t know what’s going on. Nobody’s telling me anything.’ Which is not how the process is supposed to work. And I just said, ‘Stop. I’m going into work. Those people will be able to get answers. I’ll call you when I know something.’”
Robert was able to get news that his brother was alive, but it was bad. His unit immediately got him a flight to Landstuhl, Germany for him to be with August.
“So I packed a 36-hour bag. I had two children, and my wife was pregnant at the time. So I told her, ‘Hey, I’m going to meet Augie.’ And you know, my wife was fully supportive. And I got on a plane.”
As a pararescueman, he had some medical knowledge and, when he saw the leg wounds, knew that August was in for a tough recovery. He sent news back to the family and, exhausted, settled into the hospital room to be close to his brother. He even presided over August’s re-enlistment in the hospital. He stayed there for about two days, sleeping in the chair before being told about Fisher House.
“I’m sitting there, concerned about what August’s life is going be like after this. When I initially heard Fisher House, I didn’t know what that was. I honestly initially just thought ‘We’re going to the barracks. Fine.’”
Instead, Robert was ushered into the Landstuhl Fisher House where he was able to get food as he went to and from the hospital, a safe place to stay near August, and comfort.
“I felt like I was surrounded by family because everyone else in there was dealing with something like this. Right? So when I passed someone in the hall, the conversation felt very natural. It wasn’t like talking to a random stranger. I knew the person that I was engaging with in the hall that day or at the kitchen, or who was offering me some dinner that they had just made, I knew that they were there for the same purpose that I was, that there was an injured family member in the hospital.”
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He was only the first member of the family to stay at a Fisher House and find comfort with the other families staying there.
August’s injuries were bad enough that he spent three years attempting to rehabilitate his leg before opting for an amputation. Through about 20 surgeries, his mother, sisters, father, and stepfather all came to support him at hospitals in D.C. and Texas, usually staying at a nearby Fisher House.
“So August went through this, he got shot in 2011,” Debbie, August’s mom, said. “They didn’t take the leg till 2014. August used the Fisher House multiple times. It supported his whole family, depending on who he needed for which operation the Fisher House supported us.”
August even got to join them in a Texas Fisher House. Knowing that his family was taken care of helped him focus on healing.
“It’s comforting knowing that you are not a burden on people because that’s the initial thought, right?” August said. “You’re used to being the savior, not the person that everybody’s trying to fix.”
“Them being [at Fisher House] where there were constantly people coming in and bringing food, there was constantly that community there, where they were able to talk to other family members that had been there a while. And then on top of that, be there for me when I needed them to be, that was just, it’s irreplaceable.”
“I could literally see the Fisher House right outside of my window,” August said. “And so there were multiple times when I’d say bye, and I’d see them turning around and waving, even though they couldn’t tell which room or window was mine, but they’d wave at the hospital and I’d wave.”
August remains on active duty and continues to serve as an Air Force pararescue jumper. He also is an adaptive athlete. Since his 2011 injury, Fisher House Foundation has been able to support his family members at Warrior Games and Invictus Games where he competed and earned medals in swimming, weightlifting, and team sports. To learn more about his family’s journey go to fisherhouse.org/ONiell
hem being [at Fisher House] where there were constantly people coming in and bringing food, there was constantly that community there, where they were able to talk to other family members that had been there a while. And then on top of that, be there for me when I needed them to be, that was just, it’s irreplaceable.
— August O’Niell
T “ ” THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 17
FISHER HOUSE SALUTES
Military service members, veterans, and their families are supported by countless organizations that acknowledge their sacrifices. We feature a top-tier organization each issue.
combat boots. Over the years, their primary mission has evolved to “unite Americans to honor and restore the lives of veterans and military families through individualized, lifeimproving programs.” They do this by delivering personalized treatment plans for veterans and their families and ensuring the cost of this critical care is taken care of.
“We began treating what we refer to as the big five,” said CEO Shelly Kirkland. “We provide individualized holistic care to veterans struggling with brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, self-medication, and insomnia at no cost to them.”
Shelly explained that programs could be as little as two weeks or last close to a year, so it is important to involve the family and consider other issues in their lives.
“We bring the family into the fold and take a well-rounded view of the veteran. During this time, other issues may come up, like they might have financial strain or need advice on their GI Bill, so we have a variety of partners that we can work with to make sure that they’re taken care of in a full, complete way,” she said.
When Shelly joined Boot Campaign in 2017, she noticed a lot of money was being spent on flights. She reached out to friend and mentor Tish Stropes, Fisher House Foundation’s vice president of strategic initiatives, to see if there was a way Fisher House could help. Through the Hero Miles program, which uses donated frequent flyer miles to purchase airline tickets, and the Hotels for Heroes program, which uses
law enforcement service,” said Army veteran Ron Pastino. “Because of Boot Campaign, I received world-class medical treatment that is second to none. I wouldn’t have been able to receive these treatments without the support of the Fisher House which provided me with the travel and lodging arrangements needed to be at my appointments. My life and many other lives are so much better as a result. Thank you!”
Now, the relationship goes both ways, with Boot Campaign helping Fisher House guests as well through the Santa Boots program.
Boot Campaign’s Santa Boots program helps service members and their families by providing specially-chosen gifts to brighten the entire family’s holiday season and meet otherwise unmet needs. The program is designed to drive patriotism and community involvement while helping military and veteran families. Fisher House Foundation has nominated families in past years, but this year, Boot Campaign has offered to support one family per Fisher House location. Other partners that nominate recipients include the Armed Forces YMCA and Operation Homefront.
“There are so many nonprofits out there serving this incredible community and we’ve got to do more to support each other. You all are augmenting what we’re doing and we’re augmenting what you’re doing, and it’s a beautiful thing when people allow collaboration to truly take place,” said Shelly.
To learn more about Boot Campaign check out their website: https://bootcampaign.org/
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IN ACTION COMMUNITY GROUPS
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.
Fisher House Nightingale Houses, Inc.
Annual All-American Evening “…Dayton –
History Made Here”
The August 2021 fundraiser event, “All-American Evening,” was a record-breaker, raising more than $135,000 for Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc. Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc. (FNHI) held its 18th Annual “All-American Evening” on August 13. This year’s event, with the theme “…Dayton – History Made Here,” was another successful, fun-filled evening.
This annual fundraiser for the FNHI was held in the Rotunda at the Dayton Arcade and highlighted Dayton’s history. It featured themed gourmet bistro dining and wine and Bourbon tastings. There was also a silent and live auction and a best-dressed contest.
New Mexico Fisher House
In May, the Friends of New Mexico Fisher House (FONMFH) not only donated patriotic decorations, but they also volunteered their time to come set them up. These summer decorations were hung a week prior to Memorial Day by FONMFH board members Patricia Barger, Denise Austin, Collice Manning, Ruby Garcia, Joe LaGrange, and Rita Navarrete. The decorations will remained up through Flag Day and the Fourth of July.
Fisher House of the Emerald Coast
(Eglin Air Force Base Fisher House)
Fisher House of the Emerald Coast will hold its 15th Annual Helping Heroes Black Tie Gala
The gala, featuring Staff Sergeant (Retired) Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, will be held on October 27 at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Johnny “Joey” Jones is a retired United State Marine. After enduring two combat deployments (Iraq and Afghanistan) and eight years of active service in the Marine Corps, Staff Sgt. Jones suffered a life-changing injury while deployed to Afghanistan as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. The 2010 incident resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee and severe damage to his right forearm and both wrists. Since his recovery, Jones has dedicated his work toward improving the lives of all veterans and their families. Currently, Jones serves as a senior policy advisor to many military initiatives and veteran service organizations (VSO). For more information, please visit fisherhouseemeraldcoast.org or call 850.259.4956
The Fisher House at Eglin AFB, Florida and its local support organization Fisher House of the Emerald Coast (FHEC) lost a great friend recently with the sudden passing of Major General Robert W. “Chedbob” Chedister USAF-retired. Chedbob, as he was known to literally everyone, was the Program Executive Officer for Weapons and Commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin in 2006 when he, after being inspired by his wife Trecia, started the wheels turning for Eglin to receive Fisher House #48.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Chedbob and Trecia remained huge supporters of FHEC with Trecia serving multiple terms on our board of directors over the years. Since opening in 2010, the Eglin Fisher House has assisted thousands. Chedbob served our nation by helping to protect it from our enemies and his legacy of service will live on thanks to his and Trecia’s efforts to get #48 built and opened on Eglin AFB. He was a great friend, and he is deeply missed.
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Healing and Helping Through Art
Story by Michelle Horn
Army reservist Zeke Crozier served most of his nine years on Active Duty deploying to such hot spots as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Africa. Initially a mechanic, Zeke loved his job, but the command wanted to expand his experience and encouraged him to work to become a flight engineer. On June 25, 2011, as Zeke took his final check ride to qualify for this critical position, his helicopter crashed near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan.
Zeke spent two weeks in a coma and moved from Landstuhl, Germany to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and then finally to the VA medical center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His mother and father, along with his future wife, Lacy, were with him along the way. It was in Minneapolis where Lacy found Fisher House.
“I will admit at 21 years old, staying at the Fisher House was a little scary at first,” said Lacy. “I quickly met other families, and it began to feel more like home. It was an absolute blessing to have so many people bring us dinners during the week to help bring normalcy to our lives. Everyone was extremely accommodating, understanding, and kind. Any need or request that I had, especially once my children were able to join me, were met. It was comforting being that close to the hospital, and it really felt like a home away from home.”
There were many concerns as to how Zeke could or would recover from his traumatic brain injury (TBI), which he still suffers from today. He is grateful that he didn’t have to worry about where Lacy would stay.
“It was incredible. The opportunity, the experience, the fact that it was available at all, meant everything,” Zeke said.
As Zeke recovered, the young couple even left the hospital for an hour or so to go to the courthouse and get married.
“After four months, I made this crazy, miraculous recovery.”
Zeke explained that the miracle wasn’t that he survived, but how fast he recovered. He recognizes that he will never be the same, mentally or physically, but he is grateful to be alive.
Once he returned home, Zeke found an outlet through art. The injury left him paralyzed on the left side with poor hand-eye coordination and a significant amount of anger. One day he tried to smash a bottle cap with a hammer and couldn’t do it. He tried again and again until he finally could and smashed so many
that he decided to nail them to a table. When he was done, he realized that his initial frustration had resulted in a beautiful table and a sense of accomplishment. He worked with a few different materials to preserve his work since the initial table rusted because of rain, and he finally produced a lasting piece of art made with his bottle caps and protected by resin.
Lastyear, he donated one of his bottle cap art pieces to Fisher House, Inc., a community group that supports military and veteran families staying at Fisher Houses in San Antonio, Texas. It was used in their raffle during their golf outing and raised $1,500.
“By making the art, creating the art, I can, whether it’s someone that’s receiving the art, or if it’s at an auction and it’s raising money, that money is going to benefit lives. It’s going to affect people that need it the most,” he said. “I have a purpose now that I can continue to serve through my art, even after my service, now that I can’t serve in the military anymore.”
More can be found about Zeke’s art at www.handycappin.com
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Zeke Crozier, in the polo at right, stands with members of Armed Forces Financial Network and Fisher House Foundation’s Michelle Horn at a ceremony at Bay Pines Topping Off Ceremony.
Corporate and Foundation Giving Corporate Partners Work Together to Donate Outdoor Seating to Fisher Houses
Gillette, CVS, and TerraCycle presented VA Boston Fisher House with outdoor furniture made from recycled materials in a ceremony on June 15 in West Roxbury, Massachusetts as the culmination of a recycling challenge that started in 2020.
Representatives of Gillette, TerraCycle, VA Boston, and Fisher House Foundation were present at the beautiful summer ceremony. Fisher House guests and nurses from the nearby hospital attended the ceremony and signed a note thanking the corporate sponsors for the gift.
The outdoor seating was modified to accommodate veterans in wheelchairs, an important feature for veterans with spinal injuries and diseases that necessitate the need for mobility aids.
“Having the additional outdoor seating from these amazing community supporters is a great gift to the families staying at the Fisher House that has already made a big impact on the guest experience,” said VA Boston Fisher House Manager Elizabeth St. Pierre. “In recent times, it has been a challenge to find the safe balance between people being together and social distancing. This gift doubles the outdoor spaces for families to visit and eat together. Our guests love the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, gardens, sunshine, and support of one another. Our patients, some of whom can visit their loved ones outside the hospital, really appreciate the lovely patio’s homelike environment. We are very grateful to Gillete, CVS, and TerraCycle for making such a win-win for our veterans and their families possible!”
“Through our partnership with Gillette, CVS Pharmacy, and Fisher House Foundation, we are providing consumers with a unique opportunity to responsibly dispose of their razor waste and make a positive impact on the environment for future generations,” said Tom Szaky, Founder & CEO of TerraCycle. “By aligning with these forwardthinking companies, we hope to give communities the opportunity to engage around a free and easy recycling solution that supports veterans and their families.”
Consumers in every state across the country were invited to recycle their razor waste to help a participating Fisher House location win outdoor furniture made from the recycled razor and packaging waste. Each unit of razor and packaging waste sent to TerraCycle was tallied by state. The total units recycled per state were then divided by the states’ population estimates (as indicated on www.census.gov) for a recycling-per-state ratio.
Vermont, the state with the highest recycling per capita, was named the winner of the outdoor furniture. West Roxbury, Massachusetts and Albany, New York Fisher Houses received the furniture as the closest Fisher Houses to the state of Vermont.
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Story by David Nye
“Ann Arbor, MI
Thank you very much for allowing me to stay here! I did not know when my husband was transferred to the VA hospital here what I was going to do! I had a 175-mile (one way) trip here and limited funds. Motel for one night was $100, I could not afford that. I was thinking they might allow me to stay in his room with him, but they said no! One of the nurses told me about you and the social worker helped me by contacting you and I had a place to go! I am so amazed to find that it had everything you could need at no cost to us! This facility is amazing! You have made the stay feel like home and very safe! I am ever so grateful for the care and thoughtful people who provided this to me! It has been a wonderful, pleasant stay and I can never repay you for the kindness that has been shown to me in my time of need. Thank you !
The Fisher House is a blessing built and operated by angels. From the moment we arrived, in one of the darkest times, the people here treated us like lost family. They are the kindest, most generous people I have ever encountered. This beautiful place has made us welcome and comfortable.
To each of you, I cannot express the comfort you have given, the outpouring of loving kindness you have shared, the generosity of yourselves.
Thank you for easing the burden we carry. With great love and appreciation.
Camp Lejeune, NC
Dear Fisher House,
Words can’t adequately express my gratitude for this wonderful place. The warm welcome and serenity make it a haven from the stress of having a loved one in the hospital! When I walked through the door, I felt nurtured and cared for not just by the staff but by the other families who completely understood the complex feelings associated with a very serious illness so far from home. Thank you for all you do to support families of those who serve our great country.
Camp Pendleton, CA
We are thankful for this wonderful place to stay while our son is in the hospital. This is a very difficult time for us, and you have helped ease the burden. Thank you, Fisher House, — May the Lord Bless You All.
JOURNAL ENTRIES & LETTERS
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 22
Forest Glen, MD
To Walter Reed Army Fisher House Team,
Thank you very much for your kindness and support during the hardest and most challenging time our families’ lives. We are all grateful for making our stay in Fisher House as comfortable as possible. Mr. Maurice made every need and request met above and beyond expectation. The whole staff are amazing! Although our loved one lost the battle with health issues, you have been there for us and thank you so much for that. We are forever grateful. May God bless you all for showing us compassion.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK
Fisher House is such a blessing and a relief during this time of uncertainty. I wish I had known exactly what was going on at the Fisher House during the CFC Campaign all my active-duty years. The house is really set up to make guests feel at home and the staff is simply amazing. It is so good to know this resource is available. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! — Rob
Long Beach, CA
When help and kindness is given so abundantly it is woefully inadequate using pen on paper to express the depth of appreciation that is felt. Quite honestly, I would have found it near impossible to help my brother and complete all the legal and logistical tasks that had to be done in such a short time frame to ensure my brother was safe and secure. Many things that had to be sorted were heartbreaking and the Fisher House was my haven.
San Diego, CA
Thank you, Fisher House! Another veteran told me about this place. My son is a paraplegic and often has long stays and surgery at USCD. Many times, I find myself sleeping upright in a chair or in the car. As a disabled veteran and my son’s caregiver, our budget can be tight, especially when it comes to meals. Many times, I resort to one meal or snacks for the day. The Fisher House lifted the housing and meals off my shoulders. Gave me a place to recharge and prep my own meals like at home. My son and I are grateful. Thank you!
Travis Air Force Base, CA
We want to thank you for all that you have done for my father and I. Our first conversation had made a lasting impression for us. Your kindness, hospitality and customer service is like no other. The Fisher House really allowed us to bond, laugh and get our minds off of pop’s surgery. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love my dad and you created the best experience one could have before surgery.
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Story by David Nye
For three years, a very important Fisher House Foundation event has been on hold and, like all events that have had to be delayed, it has been greatly missed.
Managers Training, usually held annually, empowers Fisher House managers to become better and more effective caregivers of the guests and homes placed in their care.
This past April, Fisher House managers, program managers, and support staff gathered for the annual training for the first time since 2019 in Bethesda, Maryland. Managers look forward to the event every year because it is the one time they are together with peers.
Although the training is key for professional development, it is the camaraderie of being together that managers look forward to. Managers shared best practices, anecdotes, laughs, and hugs after being unable to meet for almost three years.
The formal training included topics like how to facilitate guests’ needs, how to keep the Fisher Houses well-maintained and fresh, and how to best support families as they support their veterans. Program managers for each military department and the Department of Veterans Affairs also had breakout sessions to address program-specific concerns with their managers.
“This training was especially important this year as many long-serving managers retired during the pandemic,” said Fisher House Foundation VP Community Relations Brian Gawne. “For many of the managers who replaced them, who opened a new Fisher House during the pandemic, or were otherwise a new manager, this was their first annual training and their first chance to meet many of their peers.”
In addition to a full training schedule, managers had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Health and Medicine and Fisher House Foundation offices.
The training closed with an inspirational testimony from Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, a combat veteran and veterans advocate whose family stayed at Fisher House while he received medical treatment after being severely injured overseas. His encouraging message provided managers with the gift of knowing the work they do is impactful, important, and appreciated.
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 24
MEET THE MANAGER
Fisher House Foundation is privileged to have amazing managers at each Fisher House. These professionals do a wonderful job taking care of the families that call Fisher House
Tripler Army Medical Center Fisher House
Story by Michelle Horn
Misty Hironaka was born and raised on the island of Oahu, so she is a natural at making Tripler Army Medical Center Fisher House guests feel right at home in Honolulu, Hawaii. Early in her career, she lived overseas in both Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan where she was a lodging manager at Kadena and Yokota Air Bases and has since traveled extensively around the world.
Some of her favorite adventures are climbing Mount Fuji in Japan; a safari in South Africa; walking along the Mekong River in Vietnam; visiting Batu caves in Kuala Lumpur; eating Chinese food in both Hong Kong and Singapore; sharing a cultural dance in Laos; and swimming with sharks in Niihau.
In 2015, Misty finished a long-term adventure and retired from civil service after serving both the Air Force and the Navy for 31 years as a lodging manager. Her husband, Peter, already retired as a Honolulu police sergeant, enjoyed spending time with their three children and seven grandchildren. Both Misty and her husband still wanted to do more and went back to work. While working as the guest service manager at the Airport Honolulu Hotel, Misty learned about Fisher House.
“I was looking for exactly this. I was looking for purpose. I was looking for more life experience. And so much, I wanted to help more, more than earn,” Misty explained. “And the rest is history. Now you guys are stuck with me!”
She started at Fisher House on August 8, 2019, and, just seven months later, found herself helping stranded guests who couldn’t leave because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Many guests of the Fisher House in Hawaii travel from Guam or American Samoa and were unable to return home.
“So many of the American Samoa veterans that were receiving treatment were stuck here, and so that’s who filled up my two houses,” she explained about the quarantine. “Because people
FISHER HOUSE MANAGERS
couldn’t come or go, we also didn’t have to turn folks away.”
“We stayed busy, and it helped the learning curve a lot, but it also gave me an opportunity to really get into the intricacies of learning this operation versus my hotel management background.”
One visitor during this time was Joe Simonet. Joe and his parents had been traveling around Japan in December 2019 when his father, a veteran, took ill. They found themselves at Fisher House when the pandemic began and were able to quarantine together during his father’s final days. Misty described how grateful he was when he first arrived and how much he still means to her after a recent visit to his father’s final resting place. For the full story, visit https://bit.ly/FHWellLived.
“He is my fondest memory so far,” she said.
Misty is a six-year cancer survivor, which is just one example of what a strong and brave person she is. She also finished a 42-mile crossing from Molokai to Oahu in a six-man canoe and danced Hula on Merrie Monarch stage in Hilo, Hawaii.
Aside from her work with Fisher House, Misty stays busy with her grandchildren and her four “fur babies,” who she said provide unconditional love.
She shares her strength and a similar unconditional love of people with her Fisher House guests.
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022 25
“a home away from home.”
We always love to check in and see what Fisher Houses have been up to. Here, we outline a few highlights from houses around the world, submitted by the Fisher House managers.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Mr. Cleveland Bartley has made such a sweet impact on the house that it is contagious. The Fisher House was unknown to him at the time of his first visit when his wife was emergently admitted to the hospital. Multiple visits had him coming and going, not only while he cared for his spouse, as she transitioned through various levels of care over the past several months, but also to take care of his own medical needs. During every Fisher House visit, he has shared his genuine appreciation for life, joy, and love with those around him. We have all been blessed to witness his love for his wife, whom he affectionately calls ‘Honey,’ and to know him, his wife, and his family. To show his appreciation for the house’s services, during his wife’s first outing, they chose to visit the staff and friends he had met and bonded with at the Fisher House. He and his family have shown us how to be positive, loving, and appreciative of the simple things in life no matter what is thrown his way, and for that, we are grateful.
Members of the North County Chief Petty Officers Association rolled up their sleeves to provide some early spring cleaning at the Camp Pendleton Fisher House on February 17. The volunteers spent the afternoon cleaning windows, railings, patio furniture, and walkways. Their dedication helps us provide a peaceful and tranquil outdoor area for our military families to enjoy during their stay with us. We are grateful to the NCCPOA for their hard work and continued support!
NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER SAN DIEGO
United Rentals finds solutions with a shared commitment to service and safety.
“To us, this is a simple, but powerful notion we call Work United™. It is a shared mindset. One of partnership that helps us face any challenge, together.” Utilizing their resources of equipment and manpower, ten United Rentals sales team members from San Diego, North County, and Yuma worked united to power wash sidewalks, walls, railings, windows, stairs, and more at Fisher House San Diego. United Rentals faced this outdoor cleaning challenge together by dedicating 26 selfless volunteer hours.
DAVID GRANT USAF MEDICAL CENTER
Families joining together, becoming friends, and leaning on each other for support is what the Fisher House is all about. These adorably sweet little kids were able to build a friendship and fill our Fisher House with laughter while their parents received care. Even through a pandemic that seems to continue to put a halt on Travis, everyone still manages to come together. Nothing but blessings!
26 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
GEORGIA EISENHOWER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER
Throughout the years the Hunter/ Woodfork Family have been staying at the Fort Gordon Army Fisher House while Aaron Hunter, patient, received medical treatment at the Burn Center. This would be his 87th follow-up and surgery at the Burn Center. On Monday, June 13, Aaron, along with his family members, received U.S. flags for Flag Day.
MARYLAND WALTER REED FOREST GLEN ANNNEX Silver
The Army Fisher House at Forest Glen extends their deepest gratitude to The First Baptist Church of Glenarden for their continued support of the beautification of the landscape at this Fisher House every year since 2010.
guests, we should also take pride in the appearance of our facilities and grounds. Keesler Fisher House has a long-standing partnership with United Rentals, the world’s largest rental equipment company. Their support of the Fisher House program has been unparalleled, providing landscaping and beautification projects to make our facilities stand out on the installation. In May, they once again provided support to the Keesler Fisher House with a crew of over 20 employees that came out to pressure wash and paint our gazebo, replace mulch and add garden edging on the grounds. We appreciate their continued support and plan to build upon this vital partnership.
MISSOURI KANSAS CITY VA MEDICAL CENTER Kansas City
The Kansas City VA Fisher House’s first “Music Night” was a success! Members of the UMKC Conservatory performed an outside concert for Fisher House families, veterans, and VA employees. We are planning on doing a monthly “First Friday,” where we will have live music and catered food for our FH guests.
MISSISSIPPI KEESLER AIR FORCE HOSPITAL Keesler AFB
As Will Rogers famously quipped, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This axiom still rings true today, especially for our Fisher Houses! Along with offering top-notch customer service and compassion to our
The Hunter/Woodfork Family at the Fort Gordon Army Fisher House. Aaron Hunter, 7 years-old, loves playing with LEGOS in the Fisher House living room as his twin sister Amber Hunter looks on.
THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER CAMP LEJEUNE
Volunteers from Operations Control and Analysis Center, Information Warfare Company, 2nd Radio Battalion returned to the Camp Lejeune Fisher House to help us clean the exterior, spruce up the landscaping, and provide an immediate welcoming experience for our families. The 2nd Radio Battalion first provided volunteers after one of their own stayed at our Fisher House and has been providing support ever since. We are all family, and family really is good medicine.
this program. A special thank you to all our volunteers who pushed through the pandemic to help us maintain this service for our families. We You!!!
NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER PORTSMOUTH
With the last two years being full of so many challenging times and uncertainty, the sounds of our volunteers have proven to be music to our ears and smiles to our hearts. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Northland’s team of volunteers filled the house with just that as well as a day of much needed pressure washing and cleaning. It was so much fun from the inside, peeking through the windows, that the manager and a few guests joined in with laughter as one of the hard workers aimed directly for them!!! This day was so special to the command as their warrant officer took them by the hand and led them to us as a result of the warrant officer’s fight with cancer. Fisher House was a place of healing and wholeness for his family while he received treatment. They say his testimony brought them to
WEST VIRGINIA HUNTINGTON VA MEDICAL CENTER
Deewese and Haleigh, seniors at Buffalo High School, in Buffalo, West Virginia chose Fisher House as their senior volunteer project that impacts the community.
They went above and beyond, collecting and donating $600 in food and cleaning supplies as well as $163 in cash.
Buffalo is a small rural community, and these two worked very hard. They truly embody the spirit of volunteerism as well as respect for our veteran population and their families.
28 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
ANNIVERSARIES AND DEDICATIONS
As more and more public events become possible, Fisher Houses that could not have dedication ceremonies celebrated their accomplishments since opening.
Rocky Mountain Regional VA Fisher House
VA Ann Arbor Fisher House
Ann Arbor, Michigan
TOPPING OFF CEREMONIES
We could not celebrate the start of construction on the following houses because of COVID-19, so Fisher House Foundation began a new tradition called a topping-off ceremony, marking a milestone during construction. Donors, community members, hospital staff, and supporters signed the framing beam hung over the front doors of these new Fisher Houses.
Lexington VA Health Care System
Columbia VA Health Care System
Columbia, South Carolina
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
Bay Pines, Florida
In July, Fisher House Foundation began construction on the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital Fisher House located in Columbia, Missouri. This will be the third Fisher House for the state and will support up to 16 families at a time, reducing the expensive burden of hotel costs on veteran families.
DOWN RANGE CONSTRUCTION
The following projects are currently in design.
• The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
North Chicago, Illinois
• Hospital de Veteranos (VA Caribbean Healthcare System)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
• Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital II
San Antonio, Texas
What to Expect Founders Receive Humanitarian Award
Story by Michelle Horn U.S. Air Force photos by Eric Dietrich
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall presented Heidi and Erik Murkoff, founders of the What to Expect Project, with the 2020 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award at a ceremony held in the Pentagon in June.
Heidi is the author of the internationally bestselling “What to Expect” series of pregnancy and parenting books, which includes “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” She is also the creator of WhattoExpect.com and the What to Expect app, a community of 20 million moms. Heidi and Erik were nominated by the Department of the Navy for their nine years of advocacy and support of military moms, dads, and families, which began with Special Delivery, which they developed with the What to Expect Project in partnership with the USO.
Since 2013, Heidi and Erik have hosted hundreds of Special Delivery Baby Showers celebrating tens of thousands of military moms, service members, and spouses; Dad Showers celebrating fathers and other partners; and whole-family reunions at bases around the world, from Guam to Germany, Kansas to Alaska. Showers include food, fun, games, and gifts and each attendee receives a signed copy of a What to Expect book from Heidi, along with lots of hugs. In addition, they visit with staff and new parents at base hospitals. The Murkoffs have spent thousands of hours and donated more than a million dollars to fund travel and provide gifts to show their support and gratitude for service members and their families. They and the What to Expect Project have also brought to members of Congress several pieces of legislation that have been enacted into law to better support military moms and families.
“Being pregnant or becoming a mom is always a heavy lift, but it’s exponentially harder for moms serving far too far from families,
friends, and their network of support — sometimes thousands of miles away from home. The service and sacrifice is real, and so is the isolation,” said Heidi. “These moms, whether they’re service members or spouses, having their first baby or their sixth, deserve our support, appreciation, our celebration, and most of all, our love. Literally, they are our heroes, and it’s our greatest honor to have the opportunity to provide as much of that love as we can.”
Each year, the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award is given to an individual or organization that demonstrates the qualities of Zach and Elizabeth Fisher, including exceptional patriotism, generosity, and selfless dedication to members of the armed forces, or programs that enhance the quality of life for military members and their families. Nominations are submitted through each of the military services at the beginning of the calendar year.
Is someone you know expecting? Learn more at www.whattoexpectproject.org/program/special-delivery/
Heidi Murkoff @HeidiMurkoff
Such an honor @FisherHouseFdtn and @DeptofDefense
@SecAFOfficial for us. But also, the biggest honor of our lives is serving and celebrating military moms and families serving so far from home (and those serving for two!).
Big hugs to all our littlest heroes too!
30 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
Ways to Give This Holiday Season
As you begin to think about gifts this holiday season, here are a few ways to support military families:
Fundraisers: Use your passion to support our mission! Create a fundraiser on our website at fisherhouse.org/fundraise or setup a fundraiser on Facebook or Instagram.
Tribute: This holiday season, make a donation in honor of a loved one, and Fisher House will send a special message to your honoree.
Join Zach’s Club: Become a monthly donor and honor Zachary Fisher’s legacy at fisherhouse.org/zach
Stocks and Qualified Charitable Distribution: We gratefully receive stock donations. If you’re in your early 70s speak with your advisor to see if you qualify to make a charitable donation from your IRA. Gifts will help you meet your required minimum distribution.
Frequent Flyer Miles and Hotel Points: Help wounded, injured, or ill service members with their continued recovery with donated airline miles and hotel reward points, allowing them to travel or to stay in hotels when a Fisher House is full.
Leave a Legacy: Remember military families in your estate plans by listing Fisher House Foundation as a beneficiary in your will, stock portfolio, life insurance policy, or other unneeded retirement assets.
Donate a Vehicle: Get rid of an unwanted car, truck, RV, boat, or plane—running or not—and help military families. Visit fisherhouse.careasy.org for a fast and hassle-free alternative to selling or trading.
Don’t forget you can make a donation in support of Fisher House Foundation via the Combined Federal Campaign!
CFC code 11453
31 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
LOCATION GUIDE FISHER HOUSE
Please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location by phone or email.
SYSTEM CHANGE NOTICE: Managers with Army email addresses may lose access to the listed email accounts during a planned system change this Fall. Guests are encouraged to contact the houses via the listed phone number to ensure the manager is aware of their inquiry.
Manager: Theresa Nedrow email@example.com
Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
Manager: Kelly Laurich firstname.lastname@example.org
David Grant USAF Medical Center
Travis Air Force Base (707) 423-7550
Manager: Ivana Jordovic email@example.com
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton (760) 763-5308
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington DC VA Medical Center (202) 745-2482
Manager: Stacey Childs firstname.lastname@example.org
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (727) 319-1350
Manager: Shentrela Diggins email@example.com
Eglin Air Force Base Hospital (850) 883-2865
Manager: Robert Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Tampa (813) 910-3000
Please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location by phone or email.
Manager: Vicky Powell-Johnson email@example.com
Naval Medical Center San Diego (619) 532-9055
Manager: Tiana Babcock firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Long Beach Healthcare System (562) 826-5016
Manager: Yolanda White email@example.com
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (310) 268-4457
Manager: Erma Mickens firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
(650) 493-5000 x60384
Manager: Tracy Marino email@example.com
VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Aurora (720) 723-7683
Manager: Khristie Barker VHAECHFisherHouse@va.gov
VA Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven (203) 937-3438
Manager: Amanda Salthouse firstname.lastname@example.org
Fisher House for Families of the Fallen Dover Air Force Base (302) 922-1900
Manager: MSgt Kayla Hemmesch email@example.com
Manager: Sean Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Miami VA Healthcare System (305) 575-7260
Manager: Richie Sanchez email@example.com
North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System Gainesville (352) 548-6492
Manager: Clay Perdue firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlando VA Medical Center (407) 631-9800
Manager: George Denby email@example.com
West Palm Beach VA Medical Center (561) 422-5554
Manager: Shelley Prickett firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Augusta (706) 729-5773
Manager: Courtney Deese email@example.com
Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fort Gordon (706) 787-7100
Manager: Francisco Cruz firstname.lastname@example.org
Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu (808) 433-1291 x28
Manager: Misty Hironaka email@example.com
Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Hines (708) 202-7154
Manager: Holly Wright firstname.lastname@example.org
32 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital
Fort Campbell (270) 798-8330
Manager: Wendy J. Carlston email@example.com
Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
New Orleans (504) 507-6020
Manager: Debra Ceaser-Winbush firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Maine Healthcare System
Augusta (207) 623-8411 x7052
Manager: Patrick Crowley email@example.com
Malcolm Grow Clinics & Surgery Center
Andrews Air Force Base (301) 981-1243
Manager: Abe Gutierrez firstname.lastname@example.org
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Bethesda (301) 295-5334
Manager: Michael Ybarra email@example.com
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Silver Spring (301) 857-9494
Manager: Maurice Borde firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Boston Healthcare System (857) 203-4000
Manager: Elizabeth St. Pierre email@example.com
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (734) 845-3055
Manager: April LaRock firstname.lastname@example.org
Minneapolis VA Health Care System (612) 467-5602
Manager: Kimberly Bihm email@example.com
Keesler Medical Center (228) 377-8264
Manager: Marc Ambrose firstname.lastname@example.org
Kansas City VA Medical Center (816) 634-6415
Manager: Michael Unden email@example.com
VA St. Louis Health Care System (314) 894-6145
Manager: Vanniecia Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System
Omaha (402) 930-7116
Manager: Miles Brown email@example.com
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System North Las Vegas (702) 224-6789
Manager: Stephanie Jo Wheeler firstname.lastname@example.org
Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center Albuquerque (505) 265-1711 x3180
Manager: Christina Ramirez email@example.com
Albany Stratton VA Medical Center (518) 626-6919
Manager: Michael Horning firstname.lastname@example.org
James J. Peters VA Medical Center Bronx (718) 584-9000 x2037 or x2039
Manager: Ellen Trbovich email@example.com
Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (910) 450-3885
Manager: Josie Cotton firstname.lastname@example.org
Womack Army Medical Center Fort Bragg (910) 849-3466
Manager: John Miller email@example.com
Cincinnati VA Medical Center (513) 475-6571
Manager: Karrie Hagan firstname.lastname@example.org
Dayton VA Medical Center
(937) 268-6511 x2887
Manager: Betsey Striebel email@example.com
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center 216-707-4807 x 24805
Manager: Wesley Freeman firstname.lastname@example.org
Wright-Patterson Medical Center
(Assistant) Manager: Diyor Nishanov Isfandiyor.email@example.com
VA Portland Health Care System
Manager: Kelly Konikow firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (412) 360-2030
Manager: Heather Frantz email@example.com
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston (843) 805-8200
Manager: Erik Zielinski firstname.lastname@example.org
Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
Murfreesboro (615) 225-5758
Manager: Becky Wood email@example.com
Brooke Army Medical Center
Joint Base San Antonio (210) 916-6000
Manager: Robyn Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center
Fort Hood (254) 286-7927
Manager: Candice Ualesi email@example.com
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
Houston (713) 794-7766
Manager: Tamara Brunjes tamara.Brunjes1@va.gov
South Texas Veterans Health Care System
San Antonio (210) 617-5542
Acting Manager: Douglas Dickson firstname.lastname@example.org
VA North Texas Health Care System
Dallas (214) 857-4400
Manager: Lydia Henderson email@example.com
Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical CenterSan Antonio Military Medical Center
Lackland Air Force Base (210) 671-6037
Manager: Philip Harralson firstname.lastname@example.org
William Beaumont Army Medical Center
Fort Bliss (915) 742-1860
Manager: Alice Coleman email@example.com
VA Salt Lake City Health Care System (801) 588-5900
Manager: Quinn Kiger-Good firstname.lastname@example.org
Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (301) 319-5442
Manager: Maurice Borde email@example.com
Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Richmond (804) 675-6639
Manager: Wayne Walker firstname.lastname@example.org
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (757) 953-6889
Manager: Jill Thompson email@example.com
Madigan Army Medical Center Joint Base Lewis-McChord (253) 967-5198
Manager: Vattana Garcia firstname.lastname@example.org
VA Puget Sound Health Care System Seattle (206) 768-5353
Manager: Mark Debenport email@example.com
Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center
Huntington (304) 429-8700
Manager: Jason Wyant firstname.lastname@example.org
Zablocki VA Medical Center
Milwaukee (414) 384-2000 x45005 or x45006
Manager: Jennifer Kiefer email@example.com
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center 011-49-6371-9464-7430 fax: 011-49-6371-866679
Manager: Sarafina Buchanan firstname.lastname@example.org
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham 0121-472-6217
Manager: Patrick Hogan email@example.com
33 THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 2 • 2022
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 veteran families so they can be close to their loved ones during medical crises. Since
★ ★ ★ ★ ★(2) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★★★ ★ ★(2) ★ ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(4) (3)★ ★(3) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) ★(2) (5)★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★Birmingham, UK ★(2) Landstuhl, Germany ★ =
construction Numbers in parentheses indicate multiple houses at one location. * As of Oct. 1, 2022
existing houses ★ = houses under
a home away from
CFC CODE: 11453 www.ﬁsherhouse.org | (888) 294-8560 92 FISHER HOUSES* ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Fisher House Foundation, Inc. 12300 Twinbrook Parkway Suite 410 Rockville, MD 20852
430,000 families served | $547 million in savings |
million nights of lodging