By Doug Davis
As America celebrates its independence on Wednesday, soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors are defending our freedom. Some have died for it, and others are being treated for injuries in service. Soon, a home for family members to stay while their veteran is being treated at York VA Medical Center will be built in Murfreesboro.
Turn off Memorial Drive onto Compton Road and you’ll pass a sign on the York VA Medical Center property that says: “Future Home of the Tennessee Fisher House.”
“I call this the people’s Fisher House,” said Andrea Lawrence, president of the Tennessee Fisher House Board of Directors. “We haven’t received big corporate donations. I had one gentleman who sends me $5 a month. A lot of that is how we raise money. We have also raised money by selling engraved bricks for the garden and the benches outside the Fisher House.”
The Christy-Houston Foundation and State Farm have donated to the cause, as have veterans organizations. To get your name on a plaque in front of the Fisher House requires a $100,000 donation.
Groundbreaking of the home is expected on Sept. 13.
“This is a wonderful time for us to have a Fisher House because we have such a large area that we service,” said Rosetta Fisher Oliver, who is chief of volunteer service with the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System and is also on the board of the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation. “Fisher House families can come and stay here when they live outside of 50 miles of the medical center. It’s similar to the concept of the Ronald McDonald House, only it serves veterans’ families. It’s possible that veterans will also be able to use Fisher House, too.”
The house will include 12 bedrooms, some for one person and some for families.
“We have been to the Fisher House at Fort Campbell,” Oliver said. “All of the Fisher Houses are state of the art and are user friendly, with washrooms and play areas for children. They are beautiful.”
Once the house is operational, paper towels, toilet paper and toiletries will need to be donated, and food can be donated. There will be no charge for families staying there.
“Our board will stay in place to help with anything, such as the refrigerator going out,” Lawrence said. “We’ll probably continue to have an annual fundraiser to keep some cash in the drawer.”
John Furgess said he couldn’t be prouder of the Fisher House concept.
The retired colonel and Vietnam veteran is vice president of the Tennessee Fisher House Board.
“It’s a home away from home for families visiting hospitalized veterans, and it’s on military installations or VA medical hospital facilities,” Furgess said.
A house manager and assistant manager will be at the facility full time.
Currently the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation has raised right at $2 million dollars and needs another $250,000 to pay their half of the cost. The national Fisher House Foundation will pay the other half.
“I’d like to see that amount go past $250,000,” Fisher said. “The more we pay, the less the national foundation has to use of that money. They can bless another community with a Fisher House.”
The Tennessee Fisher House will be available to veterans in Tennessee, Northern Alabama and Southern Kentucky.