Fund drive kicks off for Lackland Fisher House

  • Published
  • By Frank McIntyre
  • Public Affairs
Until recently, SSgt Jeremy Epperly of Wewoka, Okla. wasn't very familiar with the Fisher House program.
That changed last January in Ada, Okla. while he was home on leave after leaving Royal Air Force Base Alconbury, England for Osan AB, Korea, where he would be a F-16 mechanic.
A head-on collision left Sergeant Epperly with head injuries and a shattered shoulder and elbow.
"I was lucky to be alive," he said. After being "put back together" at the Oklahoma University Medical Center, he was sent to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas, for rehabilitation.
February 1, Sergeant Epperly moved into Fisher House at Wilford Hall.
"I can't say enough good things about being here," the Air Force veteran said. "It's like a home away from home. Between the donations and the volunteers, it really boosts morale and takes your mind off some of the every day worries so you can concentrate on the medical treatment."
According to Sergeant Epperly, the three Fisher Houses each have 10 units. He has met many of the other residents and said they range from those like himself who are receiving treatment to families of patients wounded in Iraq.
"The one thing we have in common is that we are very, very grateful for the Fisher Houses and to those that contribute to its program," Sergeant Epperly said.
To help ensure the success of the Fisher House program and residents such as Sergeant Epperly ,the Vance First Six Council is conducting a Fisher House Drive Monday through July30.
"We will be calling upon the Vance AFB community to open their hearts and extend their generosity to those truly in need," said SSgt Paul Evans, 71st Medical Operations Squadron and drive coordinator.
There is a wish list for Lackland Fisher Houses I, II, and III included with this article. Most of these items are basic inexpensive items that people use everyday. There will be drop boxes at nearly every building on Vance AFB. Each box will have a wish list of items needed, a point of contact for that box, and instructions if you want to give
a monetary gift.
The Fisher House program is a unique private/public partnership that was started by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher in 1990. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by supporting them in their time of need.
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 Veteran's Administration medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for the 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. At the end of 2003, there were 32 Fisher Houses worldwide. Annually, the Fisher House program serves more than 7,000 families, and has made available more than 1,500,000 days of lodging to family members since the program originated. Based on a comparison of fees at a Fisher House (the average charge is less than $10 per family per day, with many locations offering rooms at no cost) with commercial lodging facilities in the same area, it is estimated that families have saved nearly $60 million by staying at Fisher Houses.
"Lodging is only part of the problem that these families must face. Food and basic necessities are very costly as well which is why we're conducting this drive," Sergeant Evans said. "We need everyone's support! When we come together as a wing, we can make this an outstanding drive for such a wonderful cause. Remember, you never know when you may be on the receiving end.
"I'd like to thank Team Vance in advance for their interest in helping the Fisher House guests. As you can see, they have a lot of needs," Sergeant Evans said. "Please feel free to donate one item or donate 10 items, it's up to you. The Fisher House and its residents will appreciate any and all contributions."
Sergeant Evans said they can also accept cash donations along with instructions as what to buy. This list to the right is not all-inclusive. If you are unsure about an item or items, please contact Sergeant Evans at 237-2833 and he will find out the answer for you.