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Fisher House's Ken Fisher on Helping Veterans Recover

Article by Ken Fisher, CEO and Chairman of Fisher House November 7, 2016 //   5 minute read

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, the Bush Center will feature a series of posts that highlight the strength and resilience of the brave men and women who volunteered to wear our Nation’s uniform.  

Today, we hear from Ken Fisher, CEO and Chairman of the Fisher House, about the sacrifices our Veterans and their families have made.   

Not long ago I met the wife of a Navy Seal staying at one of the Fisher Houses located at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  I will never forget what she said: “For the first time since my husband left for Afghanistan, we sit on the couch in the evening and talk and laugh—like the old days.  We feel like there is hope for the future and it doesn’t involve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Fisher House provided that hope and comfort for us. It is a peaceful refuge in the middle of a storm.”

Wounds of war – invisible or visible, are felt by the entire family. Families struggle together, rejoice together, and heal together. At Fisher House, we believe a family’s love is good medicine. We know having family by your side is vital to your journey to recovery.

For more than 25 years, the Fisher House program has made healing together possible. Fisher Houses provide a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. These homes provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis.

These homes are more than just a free place to sleep – they create an instant community for its guests, united by their common mission of supporting their loved one. The Fisher House not only provides each family a secure and private refuge after a long day at the hospital, but also a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen. Invisible wounds and visible wounds, are different for each family, but having an entire community to heal with you has proven to be an invaluable service to our Fisher House families.

As the network of Fisher Houses continues to expand, so do our other programs. Fisher House Foundation operates the Hero Miles program, where we use donated frequent flyer miles to bring loved ones to the bedside of service members. Since its inception in 2004, we have issued more than 63,000 tickets, saving families an incredible $100 million. We also operate a Hotels for Heroes program, providing hotel rooms to family members when a Fisher House is not available. This is made possible through hotel point donations by a generous American public.

Additionally, Fisher House Foundation supports healing through adaptive sports, like the Warrior Games and Invictus Games.  We are there for families during the worst time in their lives, and by supporting adaptive sports, we are able to be there during the triumphs as well. President George W. Bush served as Honorary Chairman of the Invictus Games in 2016, and I am humbled he was able to help showcase this incredible event that honors the sacrifices and achievements of our nation’s best. I can’t thank President and Laura Bush enough for their support.

I am often asked what I wanted Invictus Games to achieve.  Three words came to mind – HONOR, EDUCATE and SERVE.  They are the same goals we have each day at Fisher House Foundation.

We seek to honor service to country and the sacrifices made by our military and veterans—and their families that all too often go completely unnoticed.  We seek to educate people around the globe about the devastating impacts of the war, seen and unseen, on entire families.

Finally, we seek to serve those men and women and their families who need our support, either through adaptive sports, with a room at a Fisher House, a flight using our Hero Miles program, or scholarships for education.

Serving and protecting this great nation is not a sacrifice made just by a service member, it is a sacrifice their entire family makes. As such, it is our duty to honor that sacrifice when they come home. Fisher House will always be there for our greatest national treasure – our service men and women and their loved ones. 


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