Press Release: The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center will hold groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a second Fisher House on Nov. 12, 2012 at 11 a.m.
The special guest speaker will be Ivonne Thompson, wife and primary caregiver of U.S. Navy Veteran Anthony Thompson, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Anthony deployed for his second tour of combat duty on January 29, 2007. He was injured on April 20, 2007 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device was detonated under an overpass where he and “his Marines” were standing post.
With the approved use of land and resources for a second Fisher House at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC), the Houston community has a unique opportunity to support our Nation’s heroes.
Fisher Houses provide a comforting “home away from home” for families of seriously ill Veterans and active duty military personnel receiving specialized, lengthy medical care at VA or military hospitals. The presence of family members plays an important role in recovery; especially, when the loved one is in an unfamiliar environment.
Fisher House Foundation, a not-for-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, has built 58 houses on the grounds of military and VA hospitals. The Foundation annually provides short-term, no cost, convenient, quality housing to more than 18,000 families. Each house features cozy guest suites with private baths, a modern, shared kitchen, laundry facilities, a spacious dining room, and an inviting living room with library.
VA provides the land, and is responsible for daily operation and maintenance of the homes. However, Fisher Houses are built using donations from local community businesses, foundations, organizations, and individuals. Those funds are then matched by Fisher House Foundation.
Since opening in 2005, the average length of stay in the current Houston Fisher House is 11 days and the average number of guests is about 34 per night. Even with 21 suites, it has an occupancy rate of more than 98 percent.
“A second Fisher House in Houston will help accommodate these demands,” said Adam C. Walmus, M.H.A., M.A., F.A.C.H.E., MEDVAMC director. “We want to ensure our Veterans and their families can concentrate on health and healing in a welcoming and calm environment close to the hospital.”
Taking the lead in fundraising for the second Houston Fisher House, Air Force Veteran Richard E. Wainerdi, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Texas Medical Center, has again accepted the challenge to work with the community to raise the necessary funds.
“The Fisher House is much more than just a place to stay,” said Fisher House Manager Frank Kelley, a VA employee. “It also serves as a haven for many families.”
Recently, an active duty airman became severely ill while stationed in another state. The Houston Fisher House helped coordinate his transfer, and within a couple of days, the young man, his wife, and their two young children were at the MEDVAMC and staying at the Fisher House. Originally from Hawaii, their extended family was far away.
Other guests at the Fisher House helped out, provided support, and made the difficult times more bearable. This scene is repeated at the Fisher House daily and is enormously beneficial for the families of Veterans and active duty Servicemembers.
“We’re giving families help at a time when they need it the most,” said Dave Coker, president of the Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation. “Health care professionals say families play an important role in recovery, so we want to help them be near their loved ones.”