Fisher House Opens 3rd Home at Walter Reed Hospital
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 28, 2004 There is no better example for the need for Fisher Houses than Hilario Bermanis.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers and a group of dignitaries cut the ribbon officially opening the Fisher House 3 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington April 28. Photo by Mamie Mae Burke
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The young soldier was hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Iraq. He lost both legs and his left arm, and he suffered various other wounds.
Bermanis is from the State of Pohnpei a part of the Federated States of Micronesia. When he was wounded, the military notified his family. His father and mother flew to his side, first in Germany and then here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
His parents have stayed at the Fisher House on the grounds of Walter Reed for almost a year as they help him get better. They could not have stayed by their son's side without the Fisher House facility.
The Fisher House provides a place for many families as they visit with soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen receiving treatment at military medical facilities. The Fisher House Foundation, founded 13 years ago by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, takes into account the special circumstance of military life. Often service members must travel hundreds or thousands of miles for medical care. These houses are homes for the families as their loved one undergoes treatment.
There are now 32 Fisher Houses in the United States and Germany. The foundation is dedicated "to our greatest national treasure our military service men and women and their loved ones."
With that need in mind, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers helped open Walter Reed's third Fisher House today. "To me, being here signifies a couple of things," the chairman said during the dedication ceremony. "First, the generous nature of our citizens. Another is a testimony for those who are willing to sacrifice their all for our defense and our freedom."
Myers thanked the Avon Foundation for its generous gift that built the house. More than 600,000 Avon sales representatives sold Yellow Ribbon pins with all profits going to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. The fund raised more than $3 million of which $500,000 went to build the Fisher House. "Those who support the Fisher House with their donations of time and money are really making a difference in the lives or our service men and women and their families," Myers said.
"This generosity is inspiring and it is extremely important given that we're facing a threat. This threat of fear is the most important threat facing our nation, perhaps ever," Myers said. "One of the ways you defeat this is you show resolve. These houses show our resolve as the American people our resolve to take care of those who are willing to go forth and sacrifice.
"Terrorists want to replace that resolve with their terror and their fear," he continued. "But you're not going to let them do that. This has huge meaning in terms of what this country thinks is important."
The Fisher House is more than just a hotel. Kenneth Fisher, the foundation's chairman of the board of trustees, said it is a place where people can come to share with other people in need. Fisher House 3 already has family members living there. And they watch out for each other.
The families baby-sit for each other and share triumph and tragedy together. The houses are "homes" where families can go for respite, said one woman from California visiting her son.
The houses fill a large need for families visiting service members. For example, at Walter Reed the Army's pre-eminent medical care facility there are currently 260 individuals receiving outpatient care and 70 receiving inpatient care due to wounds or accidents suffered while serving in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This is in addition to service members suffering from other life-threatening illnesses, training accidents or vehicle accidents.