Those two heights of humanity come together in the nation’s 56 Fisher Houses – the latest of which was dedicated Wednesday at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta.
The $5.6 million house, lovingly paid for by private contributions from a very grateful Augusta community, provides 20 bedrooms where families of hospitalized veterans and even some active-duty soldiers can stay for free. It liberates the families, who have given so much to us, from the costs and concerns of finding lodging to be near their injured and sick loved ones, often for extended periods of time.
It’s not too much to ask for their service and sacrifice, is it?
Yet, it’s the product of several decades of thought and good works, beginning with the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Armed Forces Foundation, which led to the Fisher House organization in 1990. Zachary Fisher was a patriot who, due to injury, could only respond to Pearl Harbor by building things stateside. After a lifetime of such patriotism, the hammer has been passed and his building goes on through others even after his passing.
The new Norwood Fisher House is one of two in Augusta, the other being a smaller facility on Fort Gordon. But one of the other beautiful things about the new Fisher House is that it’s located at the country’s only Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit inside a VA hospital – meaning active-duty soldiers are treated there. The result is that families of current and retired service men and women will mix at the new Fisher House, which will lead to minor miracles of sharing and coping among families that are simply at different stages of similar journeys.
The Fishers would be so proud. And so should Augusta.