By Keisha Jackson
“There’s no place like home,” says a quote taken from a great American movie. You know the story—a young heroine finds herself far away from home but learns if she simply clicks her heels three times she can return home, safely surrounded by family.
But what about the courageous American military men and women defending our country whose homes are sometimes half a world away? What about the brave heroes and heroines facing catastrophic illness and injury away from home, or those alone, losing heart while desperately awaiting medical treatment and care?
The Fisher House Foundation was established, thanks to the charitable hearts of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, to help provide many of these service men and women and their families find a “home away from home” during trying times.
Zachary Fisher, the son of a bricklayer, began working in construction at the age of 16. From the beginning, he was a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In 1990, he learned about a service woman who had received medical treatment at a military hospital. Her husband, unable to afford a hotel, spent the duration of her hospitalization sleeping in his car. Zachary was shocked to learn the military made no provision for the families of hospitalized veterans and service members.
So, recalling a quote from another American movie, Zachary decided, “If you build it, he (they) will come.”
In 1991, Zachary and his wife Elizabeth opened the first two Fisher Houses.
Today, more than 86 Fisher Houses operate at military bases and Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The Fisher House Foundation serves active duty, retirees, and veterans’ families whose loved ones are hospitalized or require extended outpatient medical treatment. Since the beginning, the Foundation has served more than 400,000 families, saving them over $500 million in lodging and transportation costs.
The Foundation also administers complementary programs sponsored by others—such as Hero Miles, which uses donated frequent flyer credits to pay for loved ones to travel to wounded service members; and the Newman’s Own Award, which provides grants for projects to support troops at local military bases, and Scholarships for Military Children.
America’s Heroes Group Roundtable for Family Caregivers was honored to have Dave Coker, the President of Fisher House Foundation, as a recent guest panelist. Coker comes from a family with 100 plus years of U.S. Army service. He joined the Fisher House Foundation in 1994 after retiring from the Army; he has been a part of the organization ever since.
Keisha Jackson is a 22-year retired Air Force veteran. After caring for her mother, who had Stage Four inoperable lung cancer, Keisha started learning about caregiver resources to share with other caregivers.