Meet the Staff: Irnaliz Aquino
Fisher House Foundation Manager of Human Resources, Irnaliz Aquino, has an immense appreciation for the military and military families. Her father and grandfather were in the military, and her brother continues to serve. Irnaliz grew up near a military base at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, where she participated in many activities on the military installation including JROTC. Now, as a mother of two, she understands the challenges military families face and is proud of the role she plays in supporting them.
Irnaliz holds a bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management and, in her position at Fisher House Foundation, is responsible for the management and coordination of the HR Department. She ensures the daily operational activities of the Foundation run smoothly and efficiently, and the Foundation staff are taken care of so they can focus on their responsibilities.
She began her work with Fisher House almost five years ago, but her connection reaches back to the 1990’s when her grandfather received treatment for cancer at Walter Reed. Her father and aunt stayed in one of the first Fisher Houses in Bethesda, Maryland.
One of Irnaliz’s favorite events to help with is the family program for Warrior Games. She has assisted with planning of the welcome night and other events for two Warrior Games. The first was in 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the second in 2019 in Tampa Bay, Florida. She is looking forward to helping at the next Warrior Games this fall. She is always willing to lend a hand outside of her regular work because it makes her feel even more connected to service members, veterans, and their families.
“I think that's one of the things that I love to do at Fisher House, just going out and being able, not only to do my job, but to help and assist others,” said Irnaliz. "I think Warrior Games is one of the most inspiring events and opportunities that I have been able to be a part of, honestly. It's something that I can bring back and let others know of the amazing things that people can do and what we can do to help others as well.”
When Irnaliz learned that a Fisher House was requested near her home in Puerto Rico, she immediately volunteered to be part of the planning team. She has already used her bilingual skills during an initial trip to the island in 2019. The Puerto Rico Fisher House is still a couple of years away from being built, but once it is operational, it will support the Veterans Affairs Caribbean Health Care System in San Juan. This healthcare system supports more than 150,000 veterans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is the only one of its type in the Caribbean.
“Having a Fisher House in Puerto Rico will mean so much to the vast veteran population and their families located in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands,” she said. “This will certainly bring joy and hope for families to be able to be together with their loved ones while they are receiving medical care which they need so much. I am honored to be part of this Fisher House project and I couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful opportunity that will provide help and support for our military veterans in my beautiful Puerto Rico!”