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Hobbies on a Budget: How the Fisher House helps military families in crisis

By Sharon Williams

Contributing columnist

Have you ever thought about what happens when a member of the military needs to be hospitalized, or how can you help military families in crisis? Since most military personnel are not stationed near family, where does the family stay?

Is there any way for the family to be close to the hospital without them having to pay big bucks for hotels or airplane tickets?

Recently I had the unique opportunity to speak with a representative of the Fisher House which provides “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers.

The homes provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis.

I have talked to some military families who have been on the end of the phone where they hear the news their military family member is ill and needs medical care immediately. There are two things the family needs at that moment. They need to know their loved one is receiving the best care possible and they need to be physically present with that family member.

That’s where Fisher House comes in. They are able to help the families get to the military hospital and help provide lodging while it is needed.

Fisher Houses are typically located within walking distance to the medical center it serves, allowing the families to be there for their loved one.

I have had the opportunity to speak with families who have benefited from the care of the Fisher House and one of the things I heard is that the personal care from the managers and staff were such a comfort during their time of trauma. Each of the Fisher House locations has an onsite manager and community that helps to maintain and do the upkeep for the house and grounds.

The people who maintain these houses know that healing doesn’t just need to occur in the hospital — it also happens inside a Fisher House, sometimes over a cup of coffee in the morning, or as you’re preparing dinner together.

Did you know that on any given night, up to 950 families can call Fisher House their home? Of course I wanted to know about the cost and was happy to hear that no matter the length of stay, no family will ever pay to stay at a Fisher House.

Ways to give

Fisher House Foundation relies on the American public for support. You can help in many ways.

• Give to Fisher House Foundation to help support military and veterans’ families.

• Donate your frequent flyer miles – Even 1,000 miles makes a difference.

• Contribute your hotel reward points.

• Reach out to your local Fisher House, to see where they need support. Don’t assume that your local Fisher House needs mattresses, books or a game system. Ask first. The local managers will be able to best direct your intentions and help you provide things they need.

When someone you know and love is hospitalized, the first thing people ask is “How can I help?” Make it easy for the family and don’t just ask an empty question. 

Do something — you can give a donation to the Fisher House in honor of that person. One family shared that friends immediately reached out to the local Fisher House that provided them lodging and gave a monetary donation to that particular house in honor of their loved one.

When it comes down to medical crisis, sometimes the best thing we can do is to just wait, pray and donate to places that are already doing the work.  

Places like the Fisher House organization understand how to be a help to military families with members in crisis.

Have you had any experience with the Fisher House?  Have you thought about donating?  I’d love to hear if you have been on the receiving end of this great organization. (www.hobbiesonabudget.com)