Spring 2016

Comforting Military Families in Times of Need

A new Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center will enable
service members, veterans and their families to stay together
at no cost while receiving medical treatment.

Walking into a Fisher House is like walking into a five-star hotel. From the grand entryway to beautifully furnished living spaces and bedroom suites with high-end finishes, the accommodations, some say, are better than the homes of our military’s four-star generals. But for servicemen, servicewomen, veterans and their families seeking care at military and VA hospitals, a Fisher House is their home away from home, providing all the comforts they could need during difficult and trying times.

Built through public support and the national Fisher House Foundation, Fisher Houses provide short-term lodging at no cost for military members and their families while undergoing medical treatment. Now totaling 70 houses in the United States, England and Germany, these compassionate care facilities help ease the burden and expense of lodging, food and transportation.

A photo of the late New York real estate tycoon and
philanthropist Zachary Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, who
dedicated more than $20 million to establish the Fisher
House Foundation, is prominently displayed in each house.

“Traveling away from home for medical treatment can be traumatic enough without worrying about finding a place to stay,” said Chris Stanley, executive director of Fisher-Nightingale Houses, Inc., the local nonprofit organization that funds annual operations and other support costs for Fisher House I and Fisher House II located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). “Whether for a few days or longer, this situation can wear on a family, financially, emotionally and physically.”

Plans to build a 16-bedroom Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center were announced last November, thanks to an extraordinary $1.075 million pledge by Vicki and Randy Gunlock and their Greener Pastures Foundation. With their gift comes a challenge to the Greater Dayton community to raise a minimum of $500,000 to establish a foundation for ongoing support costs. The remaining cost to build this $6 million facility is funded by the national Fisher House Foundation.

Said the Gunlocks, “We feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to the men and women who have risked or given their lives to defend our liberties and give us the opportunity to pursue our dreams. We don’t look at what we’re doing as a gift, but rather a small way to pay back what we owe.”

“With this new Fisher House, many thousands who visit the Dayton VA will be appropriately cared for and healed for decades to come.”– Lt. General Richard VanFleet Reynolds, fundraising committee chair

The idea of compassionate care housing in the Department of Defense got its start in Dayton in 1990, when the Nightingale House opened at WPAFB. Once built, houses are turned over to the government, with a local nonprofit established to manage the little extras that make the house a home.

Approximately 40,000 veterans and their families from 15 surrounding counties seek care at the Dayton VA and its outpatient clinics each year, according to Glenn Costie, CEO and Medical Center director for the Dayton VA.

One of 21 bedrooms at Fisher Houses I
and II at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

“We are very limited in the use of tax payer dollars to secure housing or a hotel for families, and passing that expense on to the patients adds to an already stressful situation,” Glenn Costie said. “Having a Fisher House on the Dayton VA grounds will allow an entire family to be involved in the care of their loved one and within easy walking distance to treatments, aiding in the recovery process and improving patient outcomes.”

Leading the fundraising committee for the community challenge is retired Lt. General Richard VanFleet Reynolds of the United States Air Force, owner of The VanFleet Group, LLC, an aerospace consulting company, and co-founder of Air Camp.

“We don’t look at what we’re doing as a gift, but rather a small way to pay back what we owe.”– Vicki and Randy Gunlock, donors

“We live in an era where ‘thank you for your service’ is said by many of us, and that’s a very good thing. But, in the words of the CEO and chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, it’s ‘not enough anymore,’” Lt. General Reynolds said. “We need to demonstrate as a nation that we are truly committed and fully willing to care for our ill and wounded veterans, their families and those who continue to serve in our armed forces. With this new Fisher House, many thousands who visit the Dayton VA will be appropriately cared for and healed for decades to come.”

Since launching the community challenge in late 2015, more than $274,000 has been raised, with significant grants awarded from The Jack and Carol Adam Family Fund, The Jack W. and Sally D. Eichelberger Foundation and the Harry A. Toulmin, Jr., and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund of The Dayton Foundation. To support this effort, the Fisher House at Dayton VA Fund was established through the Foundation.

Whether it’s a veteran undergoing chemotherapy or a wounded service member suffering from a traumatic brain injury, families are “good medicine for recovery,” Chris Stanley said.

“Having a Fisher House on the Dayton VA grounds will allow an entire family to be involved in the care of their loved one...aiding in the recovery process and improving patient outcomes.”– Glenn Costie, CEO and Medical Center director, Dayton VA Medical Center

Retired Army Artillery E4 Specialist Herbert Clark and his wife, Edna, know this all too well. The Clarks first stayed at a Fisher House on WPAFB in 2012 after their son-in-law suffered a deadly stroke and more recently when Herbert underwent knee surgery.

More than 20,000 families from all branches of the military
have beenserved at Fisher Houses I and II at Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base since opening in 1994 and 2011.

“The Fisher House staff showed their love to us in a way I hadn’t expected,” Herbert Clark said. “It was such a blessing for us, including our daughter and grandchildren, to have been so close to him during his final days. We couldn’t have been treated any better.”

“The peace of mind they provided was such a comfort,” Edna Clark added. “When Herbert was in the hospital for surgery, I didn’t have to find a place to stay. All of that stress was gone so I could focus on helping him with his recovery. I can’t thank the Fisher House staff enough.”

Groundbreaking for the new Fisher House is anticipated this summer with a ribbon cutting scheduled to coincide with the Dayton VA Medical Center’s 150th anniversary celebration in September 2017.

“I don’t have enough high praise for the Gunlocks, and the support received from The Dayton Foundation and the community has been outstanding,” Lt. General Reynolds said. “Thanks to them, my fellow veterans will have what they deserve at the Dayton VA Medical Center - a compassionate care facility that provides a magnificent, mutually supportive healing environment.”

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Watch a video about Fisher House I and II to learn more about this project.

To help support this effort, please consider a gift to the Fisher House at Dayton VA Fund of The Dayton Foundation.

Good News is made possible by five Dayton Foundation donors and families who have stepped forward to become the Foundation’s 2015-2016 “I Believe!” Partners. Click here to read their stories.

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File date: 3.7.16
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