By Kim Shepard
Having a loved one so hurt they have to be hospitalized is more than enough stress without having to worry about being able to hold their hand and wipe away their tears. That’s where the Fisher House comes in for members of our military.
The Laubach family of Boston found out just how crucial the Fisher House can be when one of their members was admitted to the VA Hospital in Seattle. Frank Laubach was diagnosed with T-Cell lymphoma last fall.
“Treatments have not been successful, he’s gotten progressively worse, and then he ended up here last week when his heart and lungs became involved. He has only one kidney, and we got a phone call Monday that that kidney is failing,” says Frank’s sister Kathy.
So, Kathy got on the phone with her sister Sue, her mother Joyce, and her father Gene to figure out what to do. She says they were frantic trying to coordinate plane reservations, find a hotel and figure out how they were going to pay for it all.
“And when, you mother, found out about Fisher House, it was just relief,” sighs Kathy.
The Fisher House Foundation is a non-profit that has built homes at VA and military hospitals around the country. The facilities are close enough that their guests can walk over and see their hospitalized loved ones any time of the day or night. They offer a kitchen and laundry, so there is a little less their guests have to worry about. And, what’s even more important, they offer a unique sense of community.
“You know, it’s paying it forward. You help each other. If we were in a hotel, you would not have that sense of community at all,” says Kathy.
“Just bring your money at the hotel,” adds her father, Gene.
No money is accepted at the Fisher House, not from their guests anyway. They offer their rooms free of charge to the families of veterans and active military members for as long as they need them.
Frank’s mother Joyce says she is grateful she can be so close to her son in what will likely be the final days of his life. Frank’s sister, Sue, says it would be even more important for hospitalized military members who have young children, like those at Joint Base Lewis McChord.
“Immeasurable for the children, the young children […] to be able to physically be there and even touch, hold hands, get hugs, would be wonderful,” says Sue.
97.3 KIRO FM is teaming up with Fisher House to build a brand new home at JBLM.