Actor's Gift for Wounded GIs Generous...

By: Leo Shane III
April 13, 2005
Stars and Stripes

It reads like a Hollywood script: Denzel Washington, overcome with emotion after a visit with wounded troops, pulls out his checkbook and pays for construction of a new Fisher House.

But, just like many movies, the story is a little bit of truth with a lot of special effects added.

Officials from the Fisher House Foundation want the public to know the Academy Award-winning actor is a generous donor to their efforts. But an e-mail forward which has him single-handedly building new facilities for them is nothing more than an urban legend.

"He has given us one of the most substantial donations we have ever received," foundation spokesman James Weiskopf said, declining to give a specific amount.

Weiskopf said he has been fielding questions about Washington's donation for about a month, since he saw the e-mail rumor surface.

Washington and his wife visited wounded troops at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in December and took part in a Purple Heart ceremony.

Weiskopf said the actor also toured one of the nearby Fisher Houses � living facilities for the families of wounded troops - and offered a generous donation to help with future projects.

But the confusion began later that night, when foundation officials announced plans to build a new facility near BAMC, at a cost of more than $1 million. Simultaneously, they also made public Washington's donation.

"Somebody put two and two together, even though they weren't related," Weiskopf said.

A spokesman for Rogers and Cowan, the publicity firm that represents Washington, would not offer further comment on the issue. Foundation officials say they're thrilled with the actor's generosity, but they don't want the e-mail rumor to exaggerate and spoil the story.

Fisher House note: The Stars & Stripes article is factually correct except for the paragraph beginning with "But the confusion..." The announcements of the plan to build a new Fisher House and Denzel Washington's pledge were made by the Commander, Brooke Army Medical Center, and not by Fisher House Foundation officials.