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Fisher House Foundation
Founder(s) Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher
Location Rockville, Maryland - U.S.
Key people Kenneth Fisher, Chairman

Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major U.S. military and VA medical centers nationwide, close to the medical center or hospital it serves. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veteran families an estimated $200 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. The Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses and children of fallen and disabled veterans.

History[edit | edit source]

The Fisher House program was established by Zachary Fisher and his wife Elizabeth. The first "Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House" was opened in Bethesda, Maryland at National Naval Medical Center on 24 June 1990. President George H. W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush opened the second Fisher House at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.[1] To date, the program consists of more than 60 houses located near Veterans Affairs hospitals and military installations across the country and in Europe. From these locations, Fisher House serves more than 19,000 military families per year. The Fisher House program plans to build several more lodging facilities to complete its nationwide support network.[2]

In October 2013 the Fisher House Foundation agreed to pay the death benefit to beneficiaries of soldiers who died during the government shutdown; whose death benefit was withheld amidst significant public outrage.[3]

Foundation overview[edit | edit source]

The Fisher House program is a private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of the men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond what is normally provided by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House Foundation donates "comfort homes," built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. Annually, the Fisher House program serves more than 19,000 families, and have made available over four million days of lodging to family members since the program originated in 1990. By law, there is no charge for any family to stay at a Fisher House operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and Fisher House Foundation uses donations to reimburse the individual Fisher Houses operated by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force. In addition to constructing new houses, Fisher House Foundation continues to support existing Fisher Houses and help individual military families in need. They also administer and sponsor Scholarships for Military Children, the Hero Miles program, and co-sponsor the Newman's Own Award.[citation needed]

Zachary Fisher[edit | edit source]

Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher

Zachary Fisher was a prominent figure in the New York City real estate community and a major philanthropic benefactor for the men and women in the United States Armed Forces, as well as numerous other not-for-profit organizations.[citation needed]

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Fisher began working in construction at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he and his brothers, Martin and Larry, joined forces to form Fisher Brothers, which has grown into one of the real estate industry's premier residential and commercial developers, owning more than five million square feet of office space.[citation needed]

From the earliest days of his construction career, Mr. Fisher was a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces. Prevented from active service in World War II due to a leg injury, Mr. Fisher drew on his building skills to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in the construction of coastal fortifications. His patronage of the Armed Forces became an ongoing concern from that time, evolving to occupy increasing amounts of his energies.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, while remaining active in Fisher Brothers, Mr. Fisher's commitment to both the Armed Forces and other philanthropic causes intensified still further through his leadership role in a number of major projects.[citation needed]

In 1978, he founded the Intrepid Museum Foundation to save the historic and battle-scarred aircraft carrier INTREPID from the scrap yard. Four years of involvement with the Foundation resulted in his spearheading the opening of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, now the world's largest naval museum.[citation needed]

In 1982, the same year as the Museum's opening, Mr. Fisher established the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation. Through the Foundation, he made significant contributions to the families of the victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Since then, the Foundation has made contributions of $25,000 to numerous military families who have lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.[citation needed]

Mr. Fisher made similar donations to the families of New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. His Armed Services Foundation also provides scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families.[citation needed]

In 1990, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher began the Fisher House program, dedicating more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel. Twenty-nine Fisher Houses now operate at 17 military bases and at five Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation. More than 183,000 days of lodging are provided by Fisher Houses every year, saving families an estimated $5 million annually. Since the program's inception, more than 50,000 families have stayed in Fisher Houses.[citation needed]

In 1994, Mr. Fisher, in partnership with David Rockefeller, established the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation, which funds Alzheimer's disease research with the goal of finding a cause and cure. The Foundation operates the nation's largest and most modern Alzheimer's research laboratory, housed at The Rockefeller University in New York City.[citation needed]

Throughout his life, Mr. Fisher held a number of posts on a variety of charitable and arts organizations and military charities throughout the country. He served as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation and was a supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation, the Navy League and other military charities. Mr. Fisher also established the annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine.

He was a major supporter of the Metropolitan Opera, Temple Israel, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Reagan Presidential Library, the United Jewish Appeal and many other organizations. Mr. Fisher also served on the boards of Carnegie Hall and several other institutions and received honorary doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

In 1998, Mr. Fisher received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in honor of his wide-ranging contributions on behalf of the young men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. He also received the Horatio Alger Award, the Volunteer Action Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Senior Civilian Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, as well as the top awards a civilian can receive from each branch of the military.

Separately, Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as Margaret Thatcher and the late Yitzak Rabin, recognized Mr. Fisher for his support of charitable organizations throughout the United States.

In December, 1999, President Clinton signed Public Law 106-161 conferring upon Zachary Fisher the status of an honorary veteran in the U. S. Armed Forces. He was recommended for this honor prior to his death on June 4, 1999.

Three words, etched in the marble of Zachary Fisher's tomb, speak to his legacy: Builder ... Philanthropist ... Patriot[citation needed]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Currently, there are 60 Fisher Houses located on military installations and near veterans hospitals throughout the United States and Europe. Fisher House Foundation will continue to meet the need of service members and their families as long as they are able.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Fort Hood Fisher House", Darnell Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas, 16 January 2008.
  2. Fact Sheet, Fisher House Foundation, Rockville, Maryland, 8 September 2007.
  3. (October 9, 2013). Fisher House Foundation To Pay Military Death Benefits During Government Shutdown cbslocal.com. Retrieved October 10, 2013.

External links[edit | edit source]

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