Story by SSgt Michael Campbell on 07/24/2017Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska --
"The Fisher House Foundation Motto is Because a family's love is good medicine.' Most people spend more waking hours at their jobs than with their own families. I feel each of the families served at the Alaska Fisher House become an extension of my family," said Jenny Hall, manager of the Alaska Fisher House. "The Fisher House becomes an extension of their family story during difficult times of illness and injury. I am blessed to have a job where home' is my work and I spend the day with different members of my family every day."
According to www.akfisherhouse.org, 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 stay close to loved ones if they are hospitalized for an unexpected illness, disease or injury.
Several families and volunteers gathered for dinner, hosted by the 477th Fighter Group senior leaders, July 5.
"This [the Fisher House] is a family place," said Allen Crume a current resident who was injured in Vietnam in 1966. "Our home is in Valdez, Alaska, 300 miles from here. We are all here for a common reason, to get the medical help we need. Having the Fisher House takes unnecessary burdens off our families."
"This is one of the most meaningful things I have ever done, helping wounded warriors and those in need. I feel it helps them heal mentally and physically," said David Rooker a retired Air Force member and volunteer.
Rooker, who settled in Alaska in 1975, has been volunteering at the Fisher House for three years helping military members and retirees by teaching skills such as fly tying, safety and fishing in an effort called Project Healing Waters.
After dinner, Rooker set up a table full of fly-tying equipment and unique tools, and he teaches anyone wanting to learn how to make fishing flies.
"Teaching someone a skill they can use forever in life, you could say that is why I'm here," said Rooker.
According to Rooker, one of the reasons Project Healing Waters exists is to help people take their mind off of their troubles and put a smile on their face, something that is a welcome retreat at the Fisher House.
Patrons at the Alaska Fisher House said they can see and feel the appreciation the Fisher House volunteers have the minute they walked up to the door which had a single note posted: "we are glad you are here."
Sergeant Robert Garcia, U.S Army 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion, Alpha Company, who was visiting while his spouse received medical care, felt the world could do with more Fisher Houses, and said "Staying here has lifted a financial burden off our family in this time of need. Thank you."
It doesn't matter if you are sitting at the dinner table with a person you have never met, or casting a line on the lawn with a friendly volunteer like Rooker, the Fisher House provides service members, both past and present, a place to feel welcome.