By Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright
The first family to move into the first Fisher House built aboard a Marine Corps installation has settled in after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which marked the house’s opening aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 23. While the Fisher House is open to families, it has not yet been officially dedicated.
The Fisher House, as with other Fisher Houses across the country and in Germany, is designed to be a hotel for families who have military family members hospitalized for extended periods of time. It is located next to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, and occupants stay free of charge.
“The idea is to give temporary lodging for military members and families facing a medical crisis,” said Josie Callahan, manager of the Lejeune Fisher House. “We bring the families closer to the patient because family is the best medicine. It also brings the various families together under one roof to offer support to one another.”
The Fisher House is a 12-room facility, just shy of 10,000 square feet. With construction commencing in 2008, the overall budget was in the $1 to 2 million range, and is located next to the new Wounded Warrior Battalion – East barracks, currently under construction.
“The wounded warriors stay in these new barracks next to the hospital for treatment, and their families stay in the Fisher House to be with them,” said Callahan. “Lejeune was the first Marine Corps base to have a wounded warrior barracks, so it’s fitting that it be the first to have a Fisher House.”
In 1941, unable to enlist in the military due to an existing injury, Zachary Fisher instead joined the United States Army Corps of Engineers, where after World War II, he used his skills to start a successful construction business. Following the 1988 attack on the USS Stark, a Navy frigate in the Persian Gulf, Fisher and his wife started the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Armed Services Foundation, which provides financial assistance to service members and their families in need. In 1990, the first Fisher House was built in Portsmouth, Va.
Within the first three days of opening, three families will have moved into the Fisher House, reducing the time it would have taken to see their hospitalized relatives.
“The first family was completely taken aback by what was set up for them,” said Laurie Erickson, an employee with the Lejeune Fisher House. “They really appreciate what the house is all about, helping them stay near the hospital free of charge.”
With a fourth of the house already occupied, Fisher House tenants are now able to be with their loved ones throughout their treatment and recovery.
“We never leave a Marine behind, and that’s what this house is all about,” said Col. Daniel J. Lecce, commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski