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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/

 

The Fisher House Foundation: Watch Your Dollars Work

The Fisher House Foundation: Watch Your Dollars Work

 

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

 

9 Million days of lodging

 

86 Houses in operation

 

368,000 Families serviced in the past 30 years

 

$451,000,000 in savings to families of injured soldiers

 

 

It’s about to be the most wonderful time of the year – a time for holiday parties and get-togethers, for making lists and checking them twice. In your holiday planning this year, take a moment to remember the organization that gives 93% of every dollar raised back to our servicemen, women and veterans: The Fisher House Foundation.

 

It is always a pleasure to talk to Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of The Fisher House Foundation. A native New Yorker, just the sound of Ken’s voice brings me back home. Just a few minutes into our call, he has my mind racing and my heart pounding with excitement, as his own excitement is contagious to anyone who takes a moment to listen. 

 

Our call this week was specifically about adaptive sports and their importance in the world of healing. Our house is a hockey house – and several members of my family are involved with sled hockey, an adaptation that gives the sport a seat – in a specially designed sled that allows participants to play the game without needing legs. 

 

There is no arguing the benefits of adaptive sports for wounded veterans. These men and women spent most of their careers in top physical shape and a profound injury is life-altering in so many ways. Adaptive sports can provide not only a path to healing – but an outlet for relationship building and friendships with other people who have faced the same physical limitations, difficulties and severity of recovery. 

 

Adaptive sports are just some of the many services available through the numerous Fisher Houses across the country. All of the services available through the Fisher House Foundation have the same goal: improve the life of the wounded warrior so that warrior can heal.

 

The Fisher Houses across the country ensure that the families of the wounded can be near them while they heal. Having the loving support of family nearby is proven to help with the healing process. 

 

There are six Fisher Houses under construction right now – New Orleans, LA, Ann Arbor, MI, Omaha, NE and Huntington, WV are all getting their first Fisher House. Denver, CO is getting their existing Fisher House replaced and Richmond, VA is seeing a second Fisher house built to help address the needs of the population in that community. These houses are being built now – but there are more on the horizon as the Fisher House program continues to grow. Togus, ME and Albuquerque, NM have houses planned for the near future. 

 

The integrity of the Fisher House Foundation is unquestionable. The services provided are invaluable. It is inarguably worthy of your charitable dollars this holiday season, and any other time of year. Giving to the Fisher House Foundation is easier than you think – in fact, there are many ways to give. I personally set up my Amazon Smile account to benefit The Fisher House Foundation – and while my personal contribution hasn’t been outrageous just yet, the organization has received nearly $90,000!

 

You can help make an impact this holiday season. Visit the Fisher House Foundation website to see how you can make a difference in the lives of our healing veterans!

Scholarships for Military Children

One of the most daunting details of a college education is perhaps also the biggest blockade as well: the cost of school and the ability to afford tuition. Even local community schools often come with fees that are beyond the scope of a military family. Fortunately, Fisher House Foundation and select companies make scholarships earmarked for Military children possible.
Over the past 17 years, the Fisher House Foundation has administered scholarship grants to nearly 11,000 students. These grants are courtesy of the Defense Commissary Agency and its business partners. Fisher House Foundation has volunteered to award and administer the funds, ensuring that every penny raised is awarded to a deserving recipient.
The nearly 11,000 students over the years have been selected from over 90,000 applicants. Potential applicants are eligible if they are the child of an active duty servicemember, reservist, guard or a retired commissary customer.  All eligible applicants should also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and be enrolled or enrolling in a 2- or 4-year degree program for the upcoming fall. Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2019 Semester.
Do you have a college student or graduating senior? The 2019 program application is currently available. Applications must be submitted online by February 15th.
Applicants will be reviewed by Scholarship Managers, a scholarship management firm. This professional firm contracts with Fisher House Foundation. All applicants are evaluated and the most qualified of the group are awarded. 500 Grants will be awarded for the 2019-2020 Academic year. Each grant will be $2,000. To ensure that all funds raised are awarded as scholarship grants, Fisher House Foundation does not charge for its services and covers the cost of the scholarship management contract.
The entirety of the program is funded by Commissary business partners. It is through the extreme generosity that the scholarship fund is even possible. Manufacturers and suppliers keep products on shelves at Commissaries worldwide and the purchase of those products fund the Scholarships for Military Children program.
For more information regarding the scholarship program, application instructions and sponsor information, please visit https://militaryscholar.org/sfmc/index.html.
Per the Fisher House Foundation website and corresponding press releases regarding the Scholarships for Military Children program:
The Defense Commissary Agency and Fisher House Foundation gratefully acknowledge the support and monetary donations of all contributors and especially the following business partners for the 2018 scholarship program:
Four Star Donors – $50,000 or greater
Fisher House Foundation
Reynolds Consumer Products
Three Star Donors – $25,000 to $49,999
522 Foundation
Kahlert Foundation, Inc.
Kellogg’s
MDV, A SpartanNash Company
Procter & Gamble
Two Star Donors – $10,000 to $24,999
Dial, a Henkel Company
Ferrara Candy Company
Frank and Joanna Hogan
J.M. Smucker Company
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
Red Bull
One Star Donors – $2,000 to $9,999
American Logistics Association – Hampton Roads Chapter
Association of US Army – MG Greene Chapter
Bath Fitter
Commander William S. Stuhr Scholarship Fund
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Elite Brands
Energizer
In Honor of MSgt. Loyd J. Rockhold, USMC
Mars Wrigley
Lt. Col. Ron Mattana Scholarship Fund
Pepperidge Farm
PepsiCo
PepsiCo “In Memory of Murry Greenwald”
Pharmavite
Pride Industries
SC Johnson, A Family Company
The Hershey Company
Unilever William and Helen Sherman
Supporting Brokers & Distributors Representatives
Acosta Sales & Marketing
Advantage Sales & Marketing
American Logistics Association
Coastal Pacific Food Distributors
Dunham & Smith Agencies
Exchange & Commissary News
Favata Bakery, Inc.
Military Media Inc.
Military Deli & Bakery Services, Inc.
Military Times / Sightline Media Group
Northeast Military Sales
Overseas Service Corp. / Webco Services Co
Sodexo
 

Fisher House Comes to the Aid of Our Military Kids

fishmilkids

By Debbie Gregory

When Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation, recently heard on the news that Our Military Kids had to cut its grants to military children due to lack of funding, he knew he had to help.

And help he did! Fisher House Foundation presented Our Military Kids with a check for $250,000, and challenged Americans across the country to step up and help, too.

Our Military Kids’ supports the children of National Guard and Reserve service members, as well as children of active, wounded and fallen warriors, by paying fees associated with athletic, fine arts and tutoring programs.

Gabby Douglas, the Gold Medal Olympic gymnast was a past grant recipient.

Since April 2005, the organization has delivered more than 54,000 grants totaling $22 million.

Unfortunately, in 2014, all of Our Military Kids’ federal funding was cut. That left the non-profit reliant upon private funds.

“Our Military Kids does incredible work to support military families when they need it most,” said Fisher. “We feel that supporting them is a natural extension of our mission at Fisher House, and believe that we have to work together to wrap our arms around military families – especially young people – in times of need. We both understand that not only the service member serves, but the entire family sacrifices.”

“We’re so grateful to Fisher House,” said Linda Davidson, executive director of Our Military Kids. “Not only does their donation come at a time when our funds are not keeping pace with the need, but their generous act signals a door opening to better collaboration among military support organizations.”

“Taking care of our military, veterans and their families is everyone’s responsibility,” said Fisher. “I challenge Americans everywhere to reach into your hearts and pockets and help Our Military Kids sustain the wonderful support they have given military children since 2004—these children deserve this and so much more.”

Honoring Gold Star Families on this Memorial Day

Toni

Photo of Toni Gross volunteering at Fisher House credited to Craig Orsini

By Debbie Gregory.

During World War I, military families began a tradition of hanging a small banner in the windows of their homes. Bordered in red, the white banner had a blue star for each family member in the military. If a family member died in service, a gold star replaced the blue.

That simple gold star has become a  cherished symbol of a loved one lost. And on this Memorial Day, I would like to introduce you to a Gold Star family.

Toni and Craig Gross’s son, Frank, followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by joining the Army. On July 16, 2011, when he was just 25 years old, Frank was killed in Afghanistan by an IED.

U.S. military service members who die abroad come home through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Toni and Craig traveled from their home in Florida to Delaware to welcome their son’s body home during the dignified transfer, a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the Army, Frank’s branch of service.  A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member’s service presides over each dignified transfer.

While in Dover, the family stayed at the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen. This Fisher House, and 70 others like it across the U.S., is a comfort home where military and veteran’s families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment nearby. The families of these fallen soldiers are hosted—all expenses paid—at the Dover Fisher House.

“I remember the day like it was yesterday,” Toni said. “We left our rooms and walked down a lovely garden path to the chapel that was part of the Fisher House. We prayed and then we were driven to the tarmac to welcome our son home.”

To honor her son while also giving back to other military families, Toni began volunteering at the VA Fisher House near her home in Tampa, FL. She now spends every Wednesday helping to take care of other families whose loved ones are receiving treatment for illnesses or injuries. Craig wanted to honor his son as well, so he quit his job and opened a BBQ restaurant near Tampa called “Frankie’s Patriot BBQ,” filled with military and veteran keepsakes, the most important of which are photos of Frankie in uniform. Additionally, Frankie’s BBQ provides occasional dinners at the Fisher House where Toni volunteers.

Battling Together: Fisher House Provides Veterans a Place to Recover with Family at their Side

Sgt-Anson-Curry1

By Debbie Gregory.

More than 3.8 million U.S. veterans are living with a service-related disability. Of those, 1.1 million have a disability rating of 70% or higher. These men and women will need medical care the rest of their lives, and when that happens, their families want two things: the best medical care possible and to be by their loved one’s side.

The Fisher House Foundation is probably best known for the network of 70 comfort homes where family members can stay while a military or veteran loved one is receiving medical treatment. The comfort homes are located at major military and VA medical centers throughout the country.

Military spouse Minie Curry was tending to the home fires, while her husband, Army Sergeant Anson Curry, served two tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In 2011, a grenade exploded in his bunker, causing him to suffer severe and permanent brain damage. Minie has been by his side every day since.

“It’s for better or for worse and I told him you are not fighting this fight alone. This is our fight. I keep telling him it’s not your battle, it’s our battle,” said Minie.

While Anson was rehabilitating at the VA Polytrauma Center, Minie and other members of the Curry family lived at the Palo Alto Fisher House for more than nine months. To give Minie brief respite, Fisher House flew family members through its Hero Miles Program to Palo Alto to be with Anson.

Minie said that she made a promise to God: if he spared Anson’s life, she would be there to take care of him.

“So I owe God. And I thank God every day. But as determined as I was to be there for Anson, I just don’t know how I would have done that without the Fisher House. I would have let both Anson and God down. I am so thankful for my beautiful home at Palo Alto. So thankful for Fisher House.”

“Even when Anson was at his very worst, Minie never gave up,” said Christian Curry, Anson’s brother. “I believe that every step Anson has taken was because Minie was there to encourage and love him. Without a Fisher House, that never would have happened. I really don’t know where Anson would be today, quite frankly, if Minie had not been staying right across the street.”

Four years later, the Curry family now lives in San Antonio, and Minie cares for 90 percent of Anson’s needs, while also taking care of her three children, two of whom have special needs.

“There have been many struggles and challenges. I won’t lie. But there have also been the small pleasures of life that make it worth the fight. While it may seem repetitious to others, it is not to me because all Anson has to do is smile when I enter the room and all the work, all the effort, all the sacrifice is worth it.”

Fisher House Foundation helps to ensure families can be there in times of greatest need because it believes that “a family’s love is good medicine.” MilitaryConnection.com is proud to support the great work that Fisher House Foundation does.

Military Connection: Delta Aids Veteran Charities: By Debbie Gregory

SkyWish

Delta Air Lines has some great news for wounded Veterans and their families. The airline is helping service members, Veterans and their families by matching airline miles that were donated last month to the charitable organizations, Fisher House Foundation and Luke’s Wings.

Delta agreed to match donations made through the SkyWish program, up to an aggregate total of 10 million miles. The SkyWish program allows Delta’s customers to donate their unused SkyMiles to a charity. The program gives SkyMiles users their choice of thirty different charitable organizations.

The Fisher House Foundation and its facilities offer the families of service members and Veterans a place to stay, at no cost, while their loved one is receiving treatment. Luke’s Wings provides military families with the means to travel to be with their loved one during the service member’s hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Luke’s Wings and the Fisher House Foundation are able to use the SkyMiles miles donated through SkyWish to provide air travel to wounded, injured or ill service members, Veterans, and their families. This allows loved ones to be together during treatment and recovery.

In September, Delta contributed toward the construction of a second Fisher House facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The facilitating of SkyMiles and matching of donations is a continuation of that same generosity.

In addition to contributions to the Fisher House Foundation and Luke’s Wings, Delta’s support of the military also includes partnerships with Wounded Warriors, the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign, select USO locations throughout the country, as well as the Freedom Center in Detroit. Delta’s support for these organizations is part of its Force for Global Good, through which employees contribute time, energy and millions of dollars to a host of global philanthropic causes.

To review the SkyWish program terms and conditions and to donate miles, go to www.delta.com/veterans.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Delta Aids Veteran Charities: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Non-Profits Recognized: By Debbie Gregory

AwardsThis year, 288 non-profit organizations and programs that benefit service members, Veterans and their families entered to win recognition and grants from the Newman’s Own Awards and the Fisher House Foundation.

The Newman’s Own Awards are presented by the Newman’s Own Foundation, which receives 100% of its funding from the sales of Newman’s Own products. Founded by actor Paul Newman, the company is famous for its salad dressings, pasta sauces, frozen dinners, drinks, and other items, all packaged with the actor’s award winning smile on full display.

Five charities won a total of $200,000 in grants, presented in a ceremony at the Pentagon. Half of the money, $100,000, came from the Newman’s Own Foundation, and the remaining half was matched by the Fisher House Foundation. The top prize of $50,000 was awarded to the Veterans Group, established in 2007 to empower Philadelphia area Veterans and their family members to once again become productive members of society.

Other winners, awarded $37,500 each, include:

Angels of America’s Fallen of Colorado Springs, CO – This non-profit connects the children of our fallen military heroes with a coach or instructor who can mentor them.

Adopt a Vet Dental Program of Reno, NV – Provides pro bono dental care for Veterans. The organization’s founder discovered that 95% of Reno-area Veterans aren’t eligible for VA healthcare, and that most are in need of dental work. The program provides a much needed, and often overlooked service for Veterans.

Mission: Youth Outreach, Boys & Girls Club of Cypress, CA –  This facility, is located near multiple military installations, offers scholarships to all children of military families so that they can participate in programs at no cost to their parents.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, of Hartford, CT – Offers a course in entrepreneurship through the School of Business at the University of Connecticut, at no cost to the Veteran.

Over the last fifteen years, 158 programs have received a total of $1.1 million in grants from the Newman’s Own Awards.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Non-Profits Recognized: By Debbie Gregory