The Fisher House Foundation: A Home Away from Home

The Fisher House Foundation: A Home Away from Home

contributed by Liz Zaczek, Senior Staff Writer

As we quickly approach the Memorial Day weekend, the weekend where we remember and honor our country’s heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country and protecting our freedom, past and present. 

 

Photos of the Fisher House on July 9, 2013, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The Fisher House serves as short-term, on-base lodging facility for families of fallen service members who come to Dover AFB to witness their loved one’s dignified transfer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)

Our nation’s fallen service members are given the Dignified Transfer bringing them to Dover Air Force base. The families of these fallen heros have the opportunity to be part of this solemn moment and witness the transfer. As it is the commitment of our military to bring these heros home and honor them as expediently as possible, often these families quickly pack and travel great distances to be there for these often early morning ceremonies not having time nor the energy to fully plan out the details of where to stay and eat once they’ve arrived…enter The Fisher House Foundation and specifically, the Fisher House for the Families of the Fallen.

 

Nearing its 10th anniversary of being a home away from home for these families the Fisher House allows these families to have one less thing to worry about during their stay. Just one of 87 Fisher Houses around the country and Europe, the foundation’s mission is to care for the families of our nation’s service members during times of medical crisis. The Fisher House for the Families of the Fallen is located within the Campus for Families of the Fallen at Dover Airforce Base. This House opens its doors to the grieving families giving them a warm, inviting and comfortable personable place to stay for free while at the base. The typical stay at this particular house is far shorter than many of the foundation’s other locations but that doesn’t mean it lacks a sense of warmth and community that is clearly present throughout the Fisher Houses. Even during solemn times, life’s more heartwarming moments still happen. 

 

During an interview with TSgt Michelle Johnson, current manager of the Dover location, she shared the story of a family with young children staying at the house near Halloween. Despite the reason for being there, the mother wanted her two children to have some fun at the holiday. The staff, volunteers and the surrounding community pulled together to provide costumes and trick-or-treating fun for the children. Kenneth Fisher, Chairman and CEO of the Fisher Foundation, expressed that while the House at Dover is a place dedicated to comfort and compassion during such a solemn and hard time for these families that moments of reunion and in some cases, first meetings of grandchildren and nieces and nephews happen at this location in extremely life affirming and heartwarming ways. 

 

I had the absolute privilege of speaking with Kenneth Fisher, Chairman and CEO,  on all things Fisher House Foundation as part of this piece. He was more than excited to share and remind me that while we are in the midst of facing a challenging time as a nation and global community that the mission of the Fisher House Foundation remains the same and is just as strong and important as ever. Operating 87 Fisher Houses throughout the USA and Europe, 30 years strong, these houses warmly welcome the families of our nation’s service members and veterans facing medical crises. Strategically located close to military and veteran  medical facilities, they open their doors to provide the families a warm, inviting and personal space to stay. They provide a sense of community and home rather than an impersonal hotel room. The stay and meals are free to these families while their loved one is receiving care.

8 Dec 2010 USAF Photo by Jason Minto.
Interiors of the Fisher House and Meditation Pavilion.

Even during this time where the buzz words are “social distance” the Fisher House is still receiving families with open, albeit somewhat different, arms. The foundation has swiftly adapted to the current climate making sure both the families staying with them and their own staff and volunteers stay healthy and safe. While these “Homes Away from Home” feature communal areas and normally provide home cooked meals served around a dining room table, right now families are given gift cards for local restaurants but are encouraged to still be part of the community and family environment the Fisher House prides itself on providing. While families might not be able to physically be in the hospital with their loved ones, devices such as Facebook Portals have been installed in rooms both in the medical centers and at the Fisher House locations allowing families to keep in touch easily throughout their stay. Several locations have even gone so far as to welcome first responders and medical center employees to a place to stay while they are displaced from their own homes. 

 

The Fisher House Foundation thrives with help from the local community and support from around the country. Easy ways to help the Fisher House Foundation and the families they serve include donation programs for air miles, Hero Miles,  and hotel reward points, Hotels for Heros. Individual Fisher Houses are accepting gift card donations to restaurants in their areas to give to the visiting residents. For more ways to give visit: https://fisherhouse.org/ways-to-give/

 

At the end of our conversation, I  asked Ken to share any words of wisdom or reminders to our military, veterans and their families along with all our readers  as we navigate our day to day.. As expected, his words don’t disappoint. ”It is unbelievable to think that there are men and women serving our country at risk not just from combat, but additionally, from this virus just as we all are. To them and to us all, stay strong, stay safe, make sure your family is safe, listen to what you are being told, don’t deviate, no matter what we are going through the people of the USA are very conscious of your sacrifice and we are still here today to support and honor you.” 

 

To learn more about the absolutely amazing mission of The Fisher House Foundation and ways to help them thrive in their mission, visit their website at https://fisherhouse.org/

 

Programs That Can Help Veterans Afford a Car

Programs That Can Help Veterans Afford a Car

Transitioning back to civilian life is often a hard process. You may need to find a place to live, a place to work and struggle to adjust to a new routine. One thing that would make your life easier was if you had a reliable form of transportation. Luckily, there are some great veteran benefits programs out there that can make it easier for veterans to afford a car. 

Veteran’s Affairs Automobile Allowance

If you were injured during your service, the first place you should contact is your local VA office. Through their Automobile Allowance program, you may be given money to get a car, so that you don’t have to pay any out of pocket expenses. As of October 2016, you can receive up to $20,235 for purchasing a car – an amount that will help you afford a very reliable new car. Qualifying injuries for this program include the loss of a hand or foot, burn injuries, or vision impairment. If you’re unsure if your disability qualifies you for the program, the best thing you can do is reach out to your VA office.

Progressive’s Keys to Progress

Another great program is run by Progressive, called Keys to Progress. Through this program, Progressive has donated more than 700 vehicles to veterans and veteran organizations. Every November, Progressive hosts a large one-day event in which they give away cars. Progressive begins reviewing applications for anyone wanting a car beginning in May, so if you’re interested in applying, you can learn more about the program here, including the eligibility requirements. 

Navy Federal Credit Union

When you want to buy a car, this typically means taking out a loan. If you do this through a bank, you may face some heavy interest rates that can make the car hard to afford. Often, a better option is to go through a credit union. Credit unions are like banks, except the members are the owners. Credit unions typically have a requirement for joining, such as living in a certain area or having a certain type of job. If you’re a veteran though, you can join the Navy Federal Credit Union. Through this organization, you can obtain a low-interest auto loan, along with some great other benefits. 

United Services Automobile Association

Part of owning a car is paying the insurance on it, which is yet another expense. Veterans should look to the United Services Automobile Association, as they can help you get affordable car insurance. On top of that, they can even help you get a car loan if you need it, and find you various discounts from car manufacturers. This is a great service to turn to for all your car buying needs. 

Private Lenders

Speaking of discounts, many private lenders offer discounts to veterans and active-duty military members. When shopping for a car, you should check out the fine print. You may notice several discounts available for veterans, which will significantly lower the price of the car. If you don’t see any discounts listed on their website, it doesn’t hurt to ask a sales representative if they have anything available.

In addition to discounts, some private lenders also offer help in other ways. They may accept lower credit ratings, offer a lower interest rate on the auto loan, or even require less of a down payment. Each of these can help veterans afford their next car purchase, so talk to the lender to see what they can do for you.

However, you should also be a little wary of private seller discounts. You should always investigate each discount thoroughly before accepting it – you never know who might be trying to scam you. 

Extended Warranties

Finally, you should consider getting an extended warranty on your car. These are particularly useful for veterans who might not have enough money saved up to pay for a sudden car expense. An extended warranty will cover things like mechanical breakdowns after the original manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Finding an extended warranty is easy, just search online for a warranty that matches the model of the car you are getting. For example, if you are purchasing a used Kia, you could visit a site like –https://gogetolive.com/extended-car-warranty/kia/.

Make Use of the Help Available to You

There are many programs out there designed to help veterans. If you’re unsure of how you’re going to afford your next vehicle, you should explore what options are out there for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many organizations are willing to make it easier for you to get a car, and before long you’ll be driving around in a reliable car.

The Best Military Spouse Blogs

May…springtime is in full swing…we celebrate and thank our teacher, nurses, mothers and honor our nation’s fallen heroes…but did you know it is also the time of Military Spouse Appreciation Day? Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a holiday set aside to tell military spouses why they matter — and why they are needed. Each year Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day at  US military bases and within military families around the globe.

In our digital age blogs of all kinds provide unique perspectives, share knowledge and provide a sense of community for those walking a similar path in their own lives. There are no shortage of blogs on all aspects of military life. In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day here are some links to some creative and relevant  blogs written by and for military spouses.

Jo, My Gosh:  We recommend you start reading this blog for the same reason Jo started writing it- the care packages. Jo offers great content on creating that special something. But don’t stop there! Stick around for more DIY tips and tales of military life.

Cosmopolitan Cornbread by Constance Smith:  Army Wife of 25+ years and veteran blogger. Anywhere Constance goes, she chronicles her journey with her readers – from creating family-friendly recipes and hiking in the wilderness of Alaska to photographic journeys and exploring the culture and food scene around her.

Somewhere Over the Camo: Amanda is here for other military spouses. Her blog details her family life and also has a lot to offer to others.

A Day in the Life of an Officer’s Wife: Shannon’s experience as a wife to a Naval Officer, a mother to a little girl, and their day-to-day life as a military family makes for a beautiful blog.

The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Weekly blogs/columns offer an honest, often humorous, look at military family life — from the daily minutia to the poignant moments, and every dust bunny, sassy teenager, and burnt pancake in between.

Macho Spouse: For male military spouses by male military spouses – an online resource and information hub for male military spouses.Macho Spouse helps male military spouses successfully navigate current military life through videos, online networking and communication.

We, at Military Connection,thank you for your contribution to our nation’s military. You are the silent heroes of the homefront and we appreciate your service. Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day to each and every one of you.