BRAGG, N.C. - Most military installations have them; a house
that seems out of place or is often considered a community
center. The actual use of the home is typically known to
service members, or their families, who have been stricken
by a tragedy.
When the unexpected happens, may it be
an illness or injury that requires immediate medical
attention of a loved one. Where do you go? In a moment's
notice, you may need to travel a long distance and be able
to afford hotels for days or even weeks at a time. With all
of these expectations, some of them may not be financially
possible. When hope is lost and every door of opportunity
House will leave theirs open.
The idea for the
Fisher house came to Pauline Trost in the 1970s, after she
witnessed the physical and financial struggle of a service
member's family at the Bethesda Medical Center. Several
years later, Trost's Husband spoke to Zachary Fisher, who
ran with the idea and created the Fisher House Foundation.
In 1990 Fisher donated $20 million to start building comfort
homes for the families of military personnel that required
medical services at various military installations.
“The Fisher family provided Fort Bragg with its first Fisher
House in 1993, which Is number seven of 61 homes that have
been built by the foundation,” said Lorie Southerland,
manager of the Fort Bragg Fisher House. They've scheduled to
build a second home near Womack Army Medical Center in the
near future, said Southerland.
Last year alone, 278
families visited the home. Although the usual stay is about
two weeks; they've had families stay for up to six months.
There were over 2,000 nights of sleep provided for the
families expense-free last year, said Southerland.
The Army isn't the only branch of service that is supported
by this program.
“I keep saying soldier. If you
would have been here a couple of weeks ago we had more
Marines than soldiers,” said Southerland.
of the Fisher House is primarily the families well being and
to provide emotional support in their time of need.
Southerland, who is a Gold Star Mother, lost her son in
Iraq. She's able to relate to the hardships that they're
“I may have lost my son, but I get to see
his brothers in arms every day,” said Southerland.
According to Southerland, a lot of people don't know about
this program. They either come from a base that doesn't have
one or is just completely unaware. “My husband is retired
Air Force now, when we used the Fisher House we'd been here
for 14 years and before that time, we never knew anything
It's good to get this information out,
especially to the units. If a soldier gets injured from a
flight jump, a car wreck or even needs minor surgery, they
should know that their family has a place to rest their
head, said Southerland.
“If a soldier comes in and
says that he's in the process of having surgery, but he
lives in the barracks and wants his family there, this is
the first information that I give to newly injured
soldiers,” said Anthony Pugh, outreach coordinator at the
Warrior Transition Battalion. “Then I contact the Fisher
House where they get rooms for their families, at no cost to
Among providing a place to stay, the
Fisher House also provides additional programs to assist in
travel and hotel expenses.
“They have a wonderful
program called Hero Miles, where people donate their flight
miles,” said Southerland. This program along with another
called Hotels for Heroes, help those families that can't
cover the cost of travel or hotel fees.
house doesn't always get the media attention that they're
owed. But in recent news, the organization has come through
for the grief stricken families of recent fallen service
members. After the government shutdown, the death gratuity
was not covered in the military pay bill. Stepping up to the
plate, the Fisher House was the first to show initiative in
providing these families with proper funerals that their
loved ones deserve. At the end of the day hope may seem
lost, but it can be found through the doors opened by the
By U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Britton
Comment on this article