By Alexandra Snow
To continue offering peace of mind to wounded and ill service members and their families, three additional Fisher Houses will soon be completed at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bethesda.
The Fisher House Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization established in 1990, donates homes for families of patients undergoing care at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country. With each house designed to provide eight to 21 suites, military families are able to stay at Fisher Houses at no cost while their loved one is in treatment for illness, disease or injury.
The first Fisher House built was at the National Naval Medical Center in 1990, said Derek Donovan, vice president for operations for Fisher House Foundation. There are now two homes on base and three additional homes under construction. Slated to open this year, the three new homes will have the capacity to host an additional 60 families.
‘‘The project at NNMC Bethesda is the largest single project ever for Fisher House Foundation,” said Donovan. ‘‘It will provide over 20,000 nights of lodging annually, [and] using local per diem lodging rates, it will provide savings to military families of over $5 million each year.”
The new Fisher Houses at Bethesda will feature 20 guest suites with a common kitchen, living room and laundry facility. A private handicapped-accessible bathing facility will also be available. In addition, suites will offer the comforts of a ‘‘home away from home,” including furniture, dÈcor, a TV and DVD player. Patients, if medically approved, may reside in the homes with their families.
‘‘Taking care of these families is one of the greatest privileges there is,” said Becky Wood, manager of the Bethesda Fisher Houses. ‘‘Being here every day is one of the most rewarding jobs I can think of, but I usually don’t even think of it as a job — it’s a mission.”
Throughout the country, there are 46 Fisher Houses in operation at 37 locations, serving more than 11,000 families each year. On average, families stay about 15 days and the homes remain about 87 percent filled to capacity.
In addition to the homes, the Fisher House Foundation provides a variety of services to military families, including the Hero Miles program, which provides free airline tickets to eligible family members to travel to the sites of their injured loved one’s medical treatments. These tickets are made available through donated frequent flyer miles from the American public.
For more information about the Fisher House Foundation or the Bethesda Fisher Houses, e-mail Becky Wood at email@example.com.
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