Friday, November 30

Fisher House, helping families stay strong

American Service Members Wounded in Action in Three Wars
 20,320 - Afghan War (up to 2017)
 31,952 - Iraq War (up to 2016)
304,000 - Vietnam War

WMAL radio, which serves the Greater Washington, DC area, is holding its annual fundraiser for Fisher House all day today and until 7 PM on Saturday:
WMAL listeners have generously contributed millions of dollars to the Fisher House Foundation to help build houses for the families of our injured veterans as they return home for treatment. Group homes at Bethesda, Walter Reed, the VA, Dover AFB, and more than 50 locations across the country provide a comfortable place for loved ones to live while remaining close to their injured family member.
You can listen online to the WMAL radiothon here.

Fisher House is a very worthy charity that didn't exist during the Vietnam War -- or during the two-month Cambodia ground combat operation ordered by Nixon (354 American troops killed, 1,689 wounded). Out of a list of 82 top-rated charities that serve military members, veterans and their families, Fisher House is tied for first place with Aspen Challenge in terms of financial score, transparency, and accountability.     

Since its inception in 1990 Fisher House has served 335,00 families and saved those families an estimated total of $407 million in out-of-pocket expenses, which otherwise they would've spent on travel and lodging to stay near a wounded military family member hospitalized in the USA or another country. In all, Fisher House has provided 8 million days of lodging at no cost to families of the wounded.

As to how many lives Fisher House has saved, the organization provides no statistic for that. But of course having loving family members close by during the early days of hospitalization can mean the difference between life and death for many of the worst wounded. And the presence of family is the best defense against despair when severely wounded soldiers realize that no amount of surgeries and hi-tech prosthetics will ever make them whole again.

So while much of the WMAL fundraiser is taken up with relatives of wounded soldiers explaining how Fisher House helped them, it can be very hard to listen to their accounts. What makes it bearable, what makes it transcend issues of war, is that these family members are strong people. Maybe they didn't start out strong, maybe they never saw themselves as strong, but it's either collapse into a heap of sorrow or dig deep and find strength. The relatives of wounded warriors who talk to the WMAL audience about getting through their experiences are worth listening to for that reason alone. 



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