The Fisher House Is A Blessing

Written by Pat Henlsey

Early in the morning hours, my stepmom passed away. We jumped in the car in South Carolina and started our twelve-hour journey south to be with my elderly father (who is over 100 years old). On the way down, we get a phone call that my father was being transported to the VA Hospice facility in West Palm Beach by ambulance. Needless to say, we were filled with grief and anxiety not knowing what we would face when we got there. 

When we arrived at the hospice unit, the people embraced us with compassion and kindness. The social worker asked us if we might be interested in staying at the Fisher House there on the complex and we had no idea what this was. We had booked a night at a local hotel near my parent’s house which was 40 minutes away from the hospice unit, but we would not have been able to stay there for an extended period. 

When I found out that the hospice unit had 24-hour visitation, we were so thankful that they had room for us at the Fisher House. The house has eight extremely comfortable rooms with private baths and a large smart TV. In the house, the kitchen, living room, and dining room are open to everyone plus free Wi-Fi for all. We were issued a key to our room and a key to get through the hospital when we went to visit my dad. 

Staying at the Fisher House enabled us to do so much! We were able to help my father transition into his new accommodation as well taking care of my stepmom’s funeral arrangements and probate details for him. By staying at the house, we could visit my father at breakfast, lunch and dinner and help him with his meals as well as running our errands in between meals.  By spending so much time with him, we were able to help him process his wife’s recent death as well as having to move out of the home he lived in for the past thirty years. What a traumatic experience for him! I’m so grateful that were able to be there for him to help him during this time. If we had not been at the Fisher House, there is no way we would have been able to spend this much time with him. 

Shelley, the manager, made sure that there were healthy options for meals available. If we had not been at the house, we would have spent a lot of time going to fast food places which would not have been good for us at this time. It is so easy to eat unhealthy choices during stressful times. My husband enjoyed the many salads that were available, and I enjoyed the hot dinners that I could heat up. We also enjoyed the variety of yogurt and coffee and tea that was offered. Each family also had a drawer in the kitchen that could be locked to store any personal food items. 

 Shelley and the staff always treated us like family and made us feel like we were at home more than just a guest. They were always willing to listen to you if you needed to talk and never acted like they had something more important to do. On the Friday before Father’s Day, they even had a dinner for the family and the veteran being treated at the VA. What a thoughtful thing to do! 

It was heartwarming to meet other people who were staying at the house and sharing our experiences with each other. It made me see how this Fisher House was helping people from all over the country and what a special place it is! 

 There will never be enough words to express the gratitude that we feel for Shelley and the staff of the Fisher House and also The Friends of the Fisher House who through their efforts have enabled us to stay here. They all are true angels!


How Veterans Can Train Their Brain to Sleep Better

courtesy of Department of Veterans Affairs

Many Veterans have trouble sleeping, but don’t know how to improve their sleep.

“I was determined to say…you go to bed early so you can get your rest. But it’s not the case at all.”

For Veterans like William who have difficulty sleeping, finding effective ways to sleep through the night can be challenging. Sometimes the things people do because they aren’t getting enough sleep, like taking naps, drinking alcohol before bed, or setting an early bedtime, undermine their ability to get a full night’s sleep.  

VA’s online training course Path to Better Sleep helps Veterans learn healthy techniques to improve sleep quality, and features videos of Veterans like John sharing their sleep challenges and discussing skills they learned in the course that helped them fall and stay asleep.  

“One of the rules that they told us about is…if you don’t fall asleep within twenty minutes… get up, do something relaxing, whether it’s read a book (or watch TV).” 

The course teaches techniques that can help you break the association between your bed and being awake, as well as how to eliminate distractions from your bedroom, and how to schedule your sleep. 

Path to Better Sleep is free, completely confidential, and can be taken online independently or in-person with your doctor. The course is based on the leading treatment for insomnia (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia), and includes a Sleep Check-up Tool and downloadable fact sheets that you can print out and bring to your doctor to help you understand your sleeping problems.

“If you’re dealing with insomnia and you want help, there’s help out there. You just have to be open-minded and willing to do what is required of you to do it. And I’m not going to say it’s going to easy because it’s not. But…you can’t expect something to change if you’re not willing to give it a chance.”

To learn more about how to improve your sleep and watch videos of Veterans like Cynthia share their sleep journey, go to

A Homey Feel

This is our son Raidyn. He was born premature 10 weeks early on February 17th weighing 3lbs 10oz. He needed to be admitted to NICU right away since he was so premature. We were able to stay at the hospital for a couple days until I was discharged. I was terrified having to go home, off post, and to leave our son behind. Fortunately, my husband and I were invited to stay at the Fisher House, which is right next to the hospital. My mom flew out the next day to be our side during this time. She had her hotel set and ready to go, and she was actually able to stay at the Fisher House with us! It took us by complete surprise, and we were so grateful to have my mom be able to stay right across the hall from us, for the entire time she was here. It was amazing to have one less thing to stress about.

We have continued to stay at the Fisher House, as our son is still in the NICU and will be for awhile longer. Being able to stay so close has been a life saver! We are able to be by our sons side multiple times throughout the day and night. The Fisher House has amazing accommodations. I'm able to do my laundry, cook meals in a wonderfully designed kitchen, and sleep comfortably in my own room. It has the great homey feel, and has been our home away from home during this tough time. Caretakers Jim and Michael have been a great people to talk to as well. They check on my husband and I every day, making sure our son is doing good and that were okay. It has been amazing having the support of the Fisher House to help us through this rough time, without it I dont know what we would have done.

from Christa and Adric

2019 Fisher House Volunteer of the Year

Each year, a volunteer is chosen as the Fisher House Volunteer of the Year. This year's honor goes to Chris Scott, who volunteers his time at the Salt Lake City VA Fisher House. Once a month, for over 7 years, he and his wife have served dinner to families staying at the house, bringing them a little piece of home. They have yet to miss a month. Read what manager Quinn has to say here.

Continuing Her Father's Legacy

“The ambition to go to college has always been there. Going to college was something that was a very unsure thing. The only reason I’m even able to go to college is because of scholarships like Fisher House Foundation’s Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship Program.” Read Taylor Baum's story about continuing the legacy of her father who killed in Afghanistan when she was just 8 years old. Read here.

When Time Matters Most: Veteran Organizations Stand Ready to Fill the Gap

When the recent (and perhaps recurring) government shutdown left more than 40,000 Coast Guard families staring at an uncertain number of tomorrows without the promise of a paycheck, who do these military families turn to for support? Other military families, and their trusted networks. As a veteran service organization (VSO) that employs primarily military families, Hope For The Warriors understands this culture and how to reach families in need. We are trusted. Read more.

Avoiding Charity Scams: Five Steps to Take Before Donating

Every year, there are more and more stories about different scams and fraudulent practices taking advantage of the generosity of Americans, especially in times of emergency or around holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day. When donors decide to support a cause they care about, they want their donation to count. By doing some research and planning, you can help ensure your donations get to an organization who will be good stewards of your resources. Here are tips to help you plan your donation – and avoid scams.  Read more.

Fisher House Foundation Expands Support for VA’s Polytrauma Centers

What do the VA medical centers in Richmond, Va., Palo Alto, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Minneapolis, Minn., and San Antonio, Texas have in common?  They are all regional Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers, and all will soon have two Fisher Houses to support service members, veterans and their families. Read more.

Fisher House Volunteers Touch Families’ Lives

I have been volunteering at the Tampa VA Fisher House since my son was killed in Afghanistan more than six years ago.  But this story isn’t about me.  It’s a story about another volunteer who heartened an entire family and made one of their worst days more bearable. Read more. 

Pilot Flying J Steps Up to Support our Military, Veterans and Their Families

During the holiday season, we are always thankful for our partners who help support our mission of helping military, veterans and their families. We are thankful for Pilot Flying J’s past and current support.  Now celebrating their 60thanniversary, Pilot Flying J is making a $120,000 donation for the construction of the Albuquerque Fisher House. Read more.

Fisher House Named Top Veterans Charity by MSN

Stacker put together a list of 82 top-rated charities that support the military, veterans, and their families. Each charity is assigned a financial score, an accountability and transparency score, and a star rating out of five. Fisher House Foundation was named the top charity, tying with Challenge Aspen. Read more. 

“You are Not Fighting this Fight Alone”

"It's for better or for worse and I told him you are not fighting this fight alone. This is our fight," said Minie.  “I keep telling him it’s not your battle, it’s our battle.” Read Minie and Anson's story here.

Adaptive Sports are Warrior’s Road to Recovery

Both the Invictus Games and Warrior Games are more than just sports events for competing athletes – they are a celebration for families who get to share in the fun and excitement. For some competitors, this is the first time their family is seeing them after their rehabilitation and seeing that there is life after injury. Having a family’s love and support, and knowing there’s a whole community rooting for them, makes all the difference to these brave men and women. Read more. > 

This Mental Health Month, Share the Possibilities

This May, in observance of Mental Health Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will highlight the life-changing outcomes and the possibilities that stem from mental health treatment. Whether you’re a Veteran sharing your story, a family member providing support, or a friend lending a hand, focusing on these positive outcomes can be a powerful way to provide encouragement and shape how Veterans and our entire nation thinks about treatment when they’re facing mental health challenges.

Read the guest blog from Make the Connection here

A Mother's Strength

When Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter was injured in Afghanistan, his whole family had to rely on the strength of his mother Robin to get them through. Read her story.

Charitable Donations: Donating your money to worthy charities

by Kerri Childress
When people donate to a charity, they want to make sure their hard-earned money is making a difference.  We all do.  And we want to know that the nonprofit’s funds are going to programs that make an impact. 

Fisher House Foundation works hard to be a good steward of the funds entrusted to us. One of the best ways to know your donation, to Fisher House or to any organization, is making an impact is to review third-party endorsers (nonprofit watchdogs).  They provide transparency – so you know exactly where your donation goes. Continue Reading

Why I Run for Team Fisher House

I first learned of Fisher House Foundation and Team Fisher House in 2011 from a fellow member of Soldier’s Race Team, James Armstrong. Knowing how strong my love was for those who sacrificed for our country, James told me of all the wonderful things Fisher House does for soldiers, veterans and their families.  After reading more about the Foundation and Team Fisher House missions, I decided to join the team at the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon. 

I was amazed at the wonderful support I received from Team Fisher House before, during, and after the marathon.  I remember waking up the morning of the race and finding my hotel door decorated with streamers and a certificate thanking ME for running for THEM.  I thought it ironic they were thanking me when they were doing all the work. Continue reading.

The American Legion Has Provided Decades of Support to Fisher House

by Ken Fisher

The Fisher House program began more than 25 years ago, to support military, veterans and their families during a medical crisis. Since the beginning, the American Legion has stood steadfast in its support for Fisher House. From car washes and bluegrass music jams to yearly “Freedom Rides for Fisher House,” the Legion has raised millions of dollars for the Foundation and individual houses.

It’s not just money the Legion has given, it’s literally thousands of hours of volunteer time cooking meals for the families, planting, hosting bingo and other games to give families respite from the hospital. Continue reading.