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I heard about this organization through a conversation with an active duty soldier while on a recent trip. It struck me that this concept bore all of the marks of an American sense of what is right. The organization is called Fisher House Foundation.
Fisher Houses are a thoughtful and effective private-public partnership that offers a homelike atmosphere on the grounds of major military and VA medical facilities in the U.S. for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are recovering from wounds received in service to the country. These residences are called "comfort homes" and are designed for the use of the family members of wounded warriors while they are receiving the necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation they need to recover from their wounds.
While these "comfort homes" are on military bases and at VA medical facilities they meet a humanitarian need that is over and above that which is provided by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Imagine the stress of the wounded soldier going through the intense pain and hard work of recovery from wounds. Then imagine, too, how this recovery and rehabilitation time is yet another cause for family separations.
Even the best facilities for rehab are clinical settings with all of the hubbub and the technological gear and trappings of modern medicine. While these settings are necessary for the treatments available through modern medicine, they are not designed to meet the needs of the immediate families of our wounded warriors, who are stressed by the burdens that recovery place on their loved ones. They have their own worries, their own desires to be with their wounded warrior, to offer him or her encouragement and comfort during the painful physical therapy sessions, or to just simply be able to be with them. A homier environment helps provide that more intimate non-medical care that is equally, sometimes more important to the healing process.
Fisher Houses make this gift of presence and healing in a homelike setting that are actually located on the grounds of the facility where the wounded warrior is receiving his or her treatment. These homes are also made available to active military and veterans who come down with unexpected illnesses or diseases.
According to the Fisher House website, "There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center" in the country, and they are "serving more than 17,000 families." One of the greatest elements of this story is that, "...by law, here is no charge for any family to stay at one of these houses operated by the VA." How do they do this? "Fisher House Foundation uses donations to reimburse the individual Fisher Houses operated by the Army, Navy and Air Force. No family pays to stay at any Fisher House!"
From my perspective, this is a great idea. The idea of these houses comes from the best of American ideals. It is a practical, meaningful way to care for those who have and are sacrificing so much for all of us. It has an intimacy that the big medical facilities cannot offer on their own. It brings the family back into the picture for these men and women who left family and home to defend the nation. It makes the hard times of recovery more effective precisely because it keeps the family of the recovering veterans close to the entire process of recovery. It includes them in the process, gives them a chance to provide the intimate support that only loved ones can bring to the hard core efforts required by the complicated process of healing bodies and minds from the devastating wounds of war.
If you are interested in supporting Fisher Houses you can go on to their website and learn more about this marvelous program dedicated to the care and healing of the warrior and his or her family, and how you might be able to help them provide this service to our military veterans.
And don't forget, too, that when you visit The Veterans Site and click on the blue "Click Here, It's Free" donation button, you are helping us feed veterans who find themselves homeless at this time. Your generosity in that simple act makes a real difference to a veteran in need. Thank you.