Now here is an organization near and dear to my heart:
When I was a pediatric surgeon in Texas at the Wilford Hall Medical Center on Lackland Air Force Base, I took care of troops' children from far and wide. I received patients from as far away as Japan. Many of my child patients came from just three hours north, Ft. Hood in Kileen, TX. The base has the highest number of births in any military treatment facility (with big peaks 9 months after a division comes home to their families!)
When my patients came from far away, their parents were welcome to stay at the Fisher House. It was kind of like a home away from home for families who had to be at the hospital. While I was deployed, I learned that Fisher House wasn't a local San Antonio phenomenon that was there just to help the parents of my patients, it was an amazing institution with over thirty houses on three continents, helping out families of troops who needed medical treatment for any reason.
Fisher house was started by Zachary Fisher, a construction magnate in New York. He was unable to serve in the military because of a bad leg, but he had a deep admiration and appreciation for military families. He also saved the Intrepid aircraft carrier and preserved it as a museum.
Because of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher's dedication and vision, carried on by present Fisher House Chairman Ken Fisher, over 120,000 families have been hosted at the Fisher Houses.
When I returned from deployment, I felt like I had been taken out of the game. I had been working day after day helping the troops, and suddenly I was doing nothing for them. I found Fisher House and I was amazed to find that 100% of donated funds went straight to troop services, largely because the Fisher family continues to provide the operating funds. My wife Meredith and I have been able to raise over $1000 for Fisher House, and it gives me a little sense of still doing my tiny bit for the troops.
Check out the Fisher House site:
for ways you can help. If you live near a Fisher House, there are many ways to participate: donate supplies or food, cook a meal for the families of injured troops staying there, visiting to decorate for holidays or give clothing and Christmas gifts to the kids.
Here are the locations of the 43 Fisher Houses, and more are being constructed:
Palo Alto VA Health Care System San Diego Naval Medical Center (2) Travis Air Force Base West Los Angeles VA Med Ctr.
Denver VA Medical Center District of Columbia Walter Reed Army Medical Ctr (3)
Bay Pines VAMC, St. Petersburg Haley VA Hospital, Tampa West Palm Beach VA Med. Ctr
Eisenhower AMC, Fort Gordon
Tripler Army Medical Center (2)
Blanchfield ACH, Fort Campbell
Andrews Air Force Base Bethesda Naval Medical Center (2)
Minneapolis VA Medical Center
Keesler Air Force Base
Stratton VA Medical Ctr., Albany
Womack Army Medical Center
Cincinnati VA Medical Center Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton (2)
William Beaumont AMC Darnall Army Medical Center DeBakey VA Med Center, Houston Brooke Army Medical Center (4) Wilford Hall USAF Med. Ctr. (3) North Texas VA Health Care, Dallas
McGuire VA Medical Ctr., Richmond Portsmouth Naval Medical Center
Madigan Army Medical Center Puget Sound VA Health Care, Seattle
Meredith and I will run the Marine Corps Marathon this fall as part of Team Fisher House. We will be raising money to support the Fisher Houses, homes away from home for families of injured troops undergoing treatment at military medical centers.
Thank you for visiting. I am Chris Coppola, a pediatric surgeon. I was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2007 with the US Air Force. As a trauma surgeon at a combat support hospital in Balad, Iraq (42 miles north of Baghdad), I treated injured troops, detainees, civilians, and children. My experiences are published by NTI Upstream. Drop by here for updates and discussions about our troops and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.