America Supports You: 'Haley House' Established for Wounded Vets
By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service
TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 28, 2005 Volunteers here have banded together to fill the gap while a new facility for families of wounded servicemembers is being built.
A new Fisher House for sick and injured servicemembers and veterans is being established at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tampa, Fla.
The new facility, which will take 10 to 12 months to build, will focus on veterans with severe blast, burn, and spinal cord injuries. The new Fisher House will place a special emphasis on victims of high-energy explosions and blasts, which currently account for more than 50 percent of injuries suffered by those serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to specialists at the medical center.
Thanks to medical advances, most of those injured in such attacks survive. However, these injuries are often severe and involve multiple body systems. In addition to physical disabilities that require extensive rehabilitation, many blast-injury survivors also have residual physical, cognitive and other impairments that require treatment for extended periods.
The nonprofit Fisher House program provides lodging for families of sick or wounded military personnel, who often must travel great distances for specialized medical care. Fisher Houses typically provide eight to 11 families with a homelike atmosphere and common kitchen and living areas for less than $10 a day. Some even offer rooms at no cost.
While the new Fisher House is being built, a special coalition of volunteers has been formed to create an interim facility, named "Haley House," at a local hotel near the hospital. Among the services offered to families by the hotel are free rooms and breakfast, unlimited shuttle service, complimentary local phone calls, 24-hour security and escort service, on-site laundry facilities, and access to hotel services.
Haley House secretary/treasurer Dave Braun said he "looks forward to going to the post office every day to see what donations have come in" to make his dream a reality for returning vets, as well as for area veterans who are in imminent need of hospice care in the Tampa/MacDill Air Force Base area.
Braun said even after the new Fisher House is built, he intends to continue raising funds for additional needs of wounded veterans.