The Fisher House Foundation is a nonprofit organization that builds comfort homes where military & veterans families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is receiving medical treatment. Families and service members stay at these homes free of charge. Fisher Houses are located on or near many major military installations and VA medical centers across the world.
The size of each Fisher House varies greatly, depending on the size of the installation. Most have between eight and 21 suites with both private and shared rooms. Guests at Fisher House share a common kitchen, laundry, dining area, and living room. Family members can stay for the duration of medical treatment and up to three years, depending on each case.
Since the program was founded in 1990, the Fisher House Foundation has saved military and veteran families an estimated $500 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation relating to medical care.
This international, non-profit organization was established to improve the quality of life for members of our military community who require medical treatment. Other Quality of Life programs include the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs and ongoing assistance to existing Fisher Houses, scholarships, and individual support to members of the military community during times of crisis.
History of Fisher House
Fisher Brothers is a real estate firm in New York City, founded in 1915 by Martin Fisher, later joined by his brothers Larry and Zachary. Fast forward to 1990, second-generation partner Zachary Fisher was made aware of the need for military families to have access to free lodging while service members were undergoing medical care. The issue was raised by Pauline Trost, wife of Admiral Carlisle Trost, former Chief of Naval Operations.
The Fishers entered into a public-private partnership with the US government, which allowed Fisher Brothers to develop and build on government-owned land. After construction was complete, the home was “gifted” back to the military to operate in perpetuity. Zachary wanted to ensure that military families could have a home away from home while managing medical care. Until his death in 1999, Zachary continued to use his own money to build Fisher Houses.
During government shutdowns, the Fisher House program has stepped up to cover death gratuity payments amounting to $100,000 to families of service members killed in action.
In 2019, Fisher Houses across the world served more than 30,000 military families, making them a valuable resource to the military community.
Who Is Eligible to Use a Fisher House?
The commander or director of each medical center where Fisher Houses are located is responsible for establishing eligibility, priority, and selection criteria for reserving a room. To determine if your medical visit qualifies you to stay at a nearby Fisher House, contact the house directly.
There is no fee or charge to stay at a Fisher House. All room fees for military families are paid for by the Fisher House Foundation.
Fisher House has received some congressionally appropriated funds to cover the construction of new houses. However, once the home is gifted to the military, its only source of revenue is voluntary donations from individuals and organizations and from the income generated by a congressionally approved trust fund maintained by each branch of the military. Houses at VA medical centers receive support from US tax dollars.
The first Fisher House opened in 1991 at what is now known as Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The following year, six additional locations were opened across the country. There are over 85 houses in operation in the US and Germany, as well as an existing partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity in the UK.
Future Fisher Houses are highlighted on the foundation’s website. The decision on where to build is primarily based on need and approval from the board of directors.
Ways to Get Involved
Fisher House is always looking for volunteers to help run their houses. For more information and a complete listing of local houses can be found here. Each house generally has an established Amazon Wish List that can be found on the House info page. Fisher House Foundation offers scholarships for military children, military spouses, and a Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship program. Additionally, the Hero Miles and Hotel for Heroes programs also offer support to the military community when medical disaster strikes.
If in-person volunteering is not possible for you, online options are available. You can assign Fisher House as your Amazon charity through the Amazon Smile program.
Fisher House is one of many amazing military and veteran nonprofits whose mission is to support the military community so they are ready to serve.