Newest Fisher House Opened in Tennessee

By: By Amanda Haggard
November 7, 2013
The Daily News Journal

The 62nd Fisher House opened Thursday at the Alvin C. York VA in Murfreesboro, and one family at the dedication ceremony knew first hand what a blessing the house could be for veterans and their families.

Jessica Allen spent two years at a Fisher House at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after her husband, Chaz Allen, stepped on a roadside bomb while deployed in Afghanistan.

Chaz and Jessica Allen, who came to the Middle Tennessee area in 1982, have been married more than 10 years. And while Jessica Allen said she never intended to be involved in the military in any way, she met Chaz Allen “and it all changed.”

Chaz Allen is now a double amputee after the incident, and he said the Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro will offer veterans the peace of mind of having family close during tough recovery times.

“It was just such a blessing to be able to have my family close while I was recovering,” Chaz Allen said.

Fisher Houses across the world offer a free place for families to stay while their loved ones receive care, and the house in Murfreesboro will both serve the Alvin C. York Campus as well as the Nashville Campus, according to David Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation. Transportation from the Nashville Campus to the Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro will also be provided, according to Fisher House officials.

Jessica Allen said the family waited to reunite their two young daughters with Chaz Allen until he was recovered enough to meet with them in the Fisher House at Walter Reed.

“We just didn’t want them to walk them into a hospital room to see him for the first time since he lost his legs,” Jessica Allen said. “When we reunited in the Fisher House, it was very emotional, but we had a place to meet as a family. You just don’t know what that meant for us.”

The Fisher House also allows for much-needed mutual support, according to Jessica Allen.

“There’s just nothing like walking down in the morning to get a cup of coffee and meeting with a wife who really understands what you’re going through,” Jessica Allen said.

The 12-room Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro cost nearly $6 million to complete, and Coker said it will keep many families from paying for hotel rooms or, in some cases, not being near the veteran during treatment.

If the Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro finds itself filling up quickly, the Fisher House Foundation has promised to build an additional house behind the new structure to accommodate more families.

“It is (the Fisher House Foundation’s) goal,” Coker said. “In fact, we believe it’s our duty to help provide an environment where families can focus solely on the healing process, free from the burden of the financial worry of finding a place to stay in an unfamiliar city.”

The Fisher House Foundation started in 1991 under the care of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, according to the Fisher House Foundation website, and the house on Alvin C. York campus will be the first in Tennessee.

Juan Morales, director of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, which operates the Alvin C. York Campus, said the Tennessee Fisher House was a step toward treating the “whole veteran.”

“The Tennessee Fisher House allows us to come full circle in the care for veterans by not only providing exceptional care and specialty services, but by the greatest treatment of all — the love and support of family members.”