'Thank You Not Enough' For Veterans, Says Fisher House CEO
(October 14, 2009)
Oct 8, 2009 - Kenneth Fisher, CEO of the Fisher House Foundation, speaks to attendees of the AUSA
Marshall dinner Wednesday night after receiving
the organization's highest award, the George C.
Marshall Medal. He accepted the award on behalf
of all who help care for wounded warriors.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 8, 2009) -- Kenneth Fisher reached out to veteran
organizations and community members in a call to action Wednesday, asking
them to do more than just thank wounded warriors.
The Association of the United States Army honored Fisher, chairman of the
board of trustees and chief executive officer of the Fisher House
Foundation, with its highest award, the 2009 George C. Marshall Medal.
"It's a sense of great pride that I have been entrusted with overseeing an
organization that has such an impact on young lives," said Fisher in his
acceptance speech at the dinner which ended this year's AUSA Annual Meeting
"And I honor and I respect that trust every day," Fisher added.
Fisher accepted the award on behalf of the volunteers, the community and all
of the doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals who do work caring for
veterans and Soldiers.
He also thanked the donors for being the
lifeblood of the program and its mission.
Fisher's late uncle Zachary Fisher started the Fisher House Program 19 years
ago, after a need was brought to light for temporary housing of family
members when servicemembers were hospitalized. |
The foundation has 43 houses now with at least one house near every military
medical facility in the United States. It houses more than 10,000 families
free of cost to the family. To date, the Fisher House Foundation has made
available more than 3 million days to military families.
Fisher said the foundation dedicates everything they do to the nation's
military and their families.
"Our service to them is a credit on the ledger that we can never balance,"
the Fisher House CEO said, "We owe them literally more than we can ever
In his speech, he said that veterans should know that their sacrifice is
never ignored, and that their wounds -- whether mental or physical -- will
"Too many of us in this room remember a time when those in uniform and
returning veterans were greeted not with cheers and handshakes, but with
indifference, disrespect, and even contempt," Fisher said to the audience.
Though much has changed, and veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan are welcomed home with open arms, Fisher contested that there's
a long road to go by way of caring and honoring the men and women who
answered the call to arms.
"We are united in saying to the bravest among us thank you for your
service," he said. "Thank you for our service is just not enough anymore.
Fisher said that although the deployed setting is stressful for
servicemembers, it is much worse when they return home, especially after
sustaining a life-threatening injury.
Soldiers suffering a critical injury have a 95 percent chance of survival,
but that doesn't mean that their path to recovery will be easy, Fisher said.
The road to recovery is long and arduous, and equally if not more so for
families, he added.
Through the Fisher House Foundation, families are given the opportunity to
stay close to their wounded warrior, he said, and assist in their recovery
without having to stress about extensive financial responsibilities,
"Our obligation to our newest veterans will last for decades and remain
critically important," Fisher said of the road ahead. He emphasized how the
community needs to "not just say something, but to do something" for the new
and future wounded veterans and their families.
Fisher also called on organizations to get together for one agenda, and stop
fighting each other for turf when it comes to veteran care.
"Philanthropic organizations need to spend more on programs and not
promotion," Fisher said. "In the DoD and VA, ways must be found to
streamline a system that is suffocating under the weight of its own
An issue Fisher was extremely passionate about was healthcare for veterans.
"The backburner is no longer acceptable," he said.
In the future, the Fisher House Foundation will continue to assist military
veterans and families rebuild their lives, he promised. The foundation plans
on adding 12 houses in 2009.
"In these very tough times, they don't quit on themselves," Fisher said
about veterans, "and neither should we."
photo by Erika Wonn
Reprinted from Army website
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