Some Veterans spend days, even months recovering from medical problems that put their life on hold. They know that they will be taken care of at the VA, but what if their families want to visit them? Loved ones often drop everything to visit and support their loved in the hospital, putting their lives on hold can strain both emotionally and financially.
In 1990, philanthropist Zachary Fisher recognized this need for families visiting their recovering Servicemembers and built the first Fisher House. Today there are 67 Fisher Houses near major military bases and VA hospitals across the country.
For the past 25 years, Fisher Houses have provided a home-away-from-home for military and Veterans’ families. In recent years, more than 250,000 military men and women have returned home from overseas annually, many of whom are seeking medical treatment and are being treated at hospitals away from their families.
Walmart also recognized the benefit Fisher Houses provide, and in addition to their Veteran hiring initiatives and Greenlight A Veteran campaign, launched the holiday Sing to Salute Military Families campaign with a $500,000 donation to Fisher House Foundation. Through the donation, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida received more than $7,800 to be used for home improvements and holiday festivities.
“It’s always important to Walmart that we give back to the community. It’s fantastic, we had a sing along with Jingle Bells and put some smiles on some folks here. That is the goal,” said Aaron Powell, a local Walmart store manager.
To kick off the campaign, Walmart sponsored a holiday party for Veterans, Servicemembers and their families at the Fisher House in Tampa, Florida. Veterans and their families were given gift bags, but they will tell you they have already been given their greatest gift, the ability to know they are taken care of while they visit their recovering Veteran.
Unetha Jones has been visiting her son Quan Taylor at the Tampa VAMC for the past few months and Fisher House has made sure she has a place to stay.
“It’s a home away from home. I packed up everything, They showed so much support, gave me a place to stay, provided food while I was back and forth to the hospitals. Overwhelming love and support because you need that when you need in difficult times,” said Unetha Jones who has been visiting her son Quan Taylor for the past few months.
Quan was shot in the back, resulting in paralysis, and is receiving treatment at the Tampa VA’s Spinal Cord Injury Center. He also expresses great appreciate for the Fisher House because he doesn’t have to worry about his family while they visit him.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know my family is here and I don’t have to worry about anything. It’s really like a home away from home. When I was home, I would call my mom and ask her if I can come over for dinner. Now, at the Fisher House I can still ask her to come over and cook dinner. I get to have my little brother with me here, we can enjoy being a family,” Quan said.
Quan says he will be walking and running by this time next year. He plans to work hard with this VA physical therapists, practice on the obstacle course and keep playing basketball with his little brother to get him there.