Providing Homes Away From Home for Families of Injured Soldiers and Vets
Having a family member serving in the military is stressful. We're proud of their commitment to keeping Americans safe at home. But we're concerned about their physical and mental health.
Sometimes those brave men and women need hospitalization when they return home. We want to be near them while they are treated.
But the costs of transportation to those hospitals and nearby lodging can be overwhelming. Our soldiers deserve to have family at their sides at this crucial time.
And that's why Fisher House Foundation was established more than 30 years ago.
Serving Over 400,000 Families
The organization has made a huge difference in the lives of over 413,000 families.
Fisher House Foundation operates homes where families of active-duty soldiers and veterans can stay at no cost while their loved ones receive medical treatment at military or VA hospitals for injury, illness or disease.
The 92 Fisher Houses are conveniently located. They're near military medical centers and Veterans Administration hospitals in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom.
It's estimated the program has saved military and veterans' families over $525 million. That's in out-of-pocket expenses for lodging and transportation.
4Patriots Donates Supplies to Fisher Houses
4Patriots and the Patriot Health Alliance have provided regular financial support to Fisher House Foundation for several years.
During this giving season, we also donated essential supplies to 65 Fisher Houses.
Included in those donations were Garden Tool Kits and Victory Garden Seed Collections.
As well as Floral Pollination Seed Kits and Flavor Harvest Herb Seed Kits. Plus Rechargeable Battery Kits and Blackout Beacon Emergency Lights.
'A Natural Fit for Me'
"We really appreciate the support from 4Patriots," said Brian Gawne. The Vice President of Community Relations has been with Fisher House for 11 years. "And I know people staying in the houses also appreciate the gifts you provided."
Brian is liaison to the existing houses and to communities where houses will be built in the near future. He also oversees the organization's scholarship programs.
He, his father and two brothers served in the U.S Navy. Brian was a Naval Flight Officer, flying F-14 Tomcats and eventually working at the Pentagon. His daughter was a nurse at Walter Reed Hospital.
"When I retired from the military after 28½ years, Fisher House was a natural fit for me," he said. "I wanted to give back to people with whom I'd served and folks back home who have loved ones in the service. I loved the whole concept of helping families in their time of need."
In 36 States and Counting
More than 13,000 families were served by Fisher Houses in 2020 alone. The daily capacity at Fisher Houses around the globe is 1,200 families. The number of lodging days offered is now up to over 10 million.
Fisher Houses are typically 5,000 to 16,800 square feet each. They have anywhere from eight to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a dining room and a living room.
The newer Fisher Houses are 100 percent handicap accessible and include elevators. Toys for children are also provided.
The Houses are based in 36 states, the District of Columbia, Birmingham, England and Landstuhl/Kirchberg, Germany. There are currently 25 additional locations on the future build list including six new states and Puerto Rico.
'My Way of Giving Back'
The Houses are donated to the U.S. government by Fisher House Foundation under the leadership of Ken Fisher. Ken is the chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. His grand-uncle, Zachary Fisher, founded the organization.
"I didn't serve in the military," Ken Fisher said. "I didn't wear the uniform. And so, for me this is some small way of serving. My way of giving back."
Military service secretaries and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the homes.
Fisher Houses have full-time salaried managers. But they depend on volunteers and voluntary support to enhance daily operations and program expansion.
Working Around Pandemic Challenges
Brian said the pandemic has been a big challenge for Fisher House. But they are persevering and making the best of a bad situation.
"Due to COVID, we were unable to do our usual dedication ceremonies in 2000 when we opened six new houses," he said. "Normally, those are big events with top donors, city officials and people from the community attending.
"In addition, with many hospitals temporarily stopping all non-life-threatening surgeries, very few visitors were allowed in the hospitals. So, we had fewer families in our houses, some of which were restricted to 50% capacity.
"Normally, these families gain a great deal of support by bonding with other families. But the important social interaction has been affected. The need is still very much there, but families are working around these challenges.
"Another issue with the pandemic has been that we don't have as many volunteers. And that includes people who normally stop by with dinner for the families. One of the ways we're compensating is by sending these families gift cards for their needs."
Miles, Hotels & Scholarships
Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles program. They use donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members.
So far, over 70,000 airline tickets have been provided by Hero Miles to service members and their families. They're worth nearly $105 million.
Another program operated by Fisher House Foundation is Hotels for Heroes. Donated hotel points allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge.
In addition, the Foundation manages two scholarship programs for military children. So far, approximately 15,000 students have received about $27 million in scholarship awards.
You Make Our Donations Possible
We at 4Patriots and the Patriot Health Alliance feel fortunate to be able to help the families of U.S. military members. They deserve everything this fine organization provides for them.
As I've mentioned before, we can't do this without your purchases of our products. So, in reality, it's your dollars that are going to places such as Fisher House.
Fisher House Foundation ranks very high in a variety of charity rankings. They've chosen to be exceptional stewards of their money, depending on word-of-mouth rather than spending huge amounts of advertising dollars.
If you'd like to contribute, visit FisherHouse.org and click on "Donate."