JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
For 30 years, the Fisher House’s across the country has been a home away from home for military families whose service member is receiving care at a military treatment facility.
Currently, the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Fisher House is recuperating after the double whammy of COVID-19 and February’s winter storms.
Philip Harralson, JBSA-Lackland's Fisher House lodging manager, said the occupancy rate at the house had to drop because of the pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were operating at around 70% occupancy rate, serving nearly 600 families a year. During COVID-19, the occupancy dropped down to 18%, and last year, we only served 40 families,” he said. “This year, so far, our trend is 4% occupancy, and that’s due to a mix of COVID-19 and storm damage. We had all three buildings down for almost two months. All of that really, really hurt our ability to serve the public.”
Founded in 1990 by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, the Fisher House Foundation has served more than 413,000 families since its inception. Qualifying service members include active duty, veteran, retiree, National Guard, and Reserve members who live more than 40 miles from the military healthcare facility where they will be recuperating or receiving care.
The average stay at a Fisher House is nine days, but depending on the patient’s progress, families could stay at Fisher House for months or years, Harralson said.
Any family member is welcome to sojourn there, including service dogs.
“With the pandemic starting to get under control, occupancy restrictions are loosening, but there are still many obstacles to overcome before the house’s doors can be opened wide again,” he said.
Two Fisher Houses in San Antonio sustained considerable damages from the winter storms.
“Initially two houses were completely down,” Harralson said. “We’ve gotten some water lines repaired, and JBSA civil engineers came out and made a repair on a hot water line that burst.”
In a third house, fire suppression system damage caused the bathroom ceiling to cave in, he said.
“There is water damage along the molding and baseboards, on the furniture, and in the kitchen,” he said. “Additionally, water leaked into the walls, damaging the murals in the child-friendly areas.”
The storm also destroyed much of the plant life on the grounds.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the JBSA-Lackland Fisher House may contact Harralson at 210-671-6037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harralson said his favorite Fisher House quote is located in a wooden gazebo located on the JBSA property.
“Where there is a military, there is a Fisher House. Where there is a Fisher House, there will always be caring, warmth, security, and compassion.”
Zachary Fisher proclaimed these values as one of the missions of Fisher House before he passed away.
“That’s what we do every day,” Harralson said. “We’ve just gotta get back to doing it!”