When it comes to our nation's heroes, wounds of war – invisible or visible – are felt by the entire family. Active duty service members, veterans, and their families struggle together, rejoice together, and heal together. At Fisher House Foundation, we know having family at one's side plays a vital role in the journey to recovery. We believe a family's love is the best medicine.
For over 25 years, Fisher House has made healing together possible. We provide a "home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and Veteran's Affairs medical centers. Our 72 homes provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis.
In addition to our Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs, we've added adaptive sports to our list of programs that serve wounded and injured service members and veterans through support of programs like the Invictus Games and the Warrior Games. The events raise awareness for veteran's issues and bring together wounded veterans from around the world to celebrate all that they have accomplished post-recovery.
Adaptive sports modify the rules of existing sports to meet the needs of disabled players. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, disabled veterans who participate in adaptive sports report benefits such as less stress, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, fewer secondary medical conditions, higher achievement in education and employment, and more independence.
Look at Will Reynolds, a retired Army captain, who was injured in an improvised explosive device explosion during his deployment 12 years ago. Reynolds underwent 26 surgeries and the amputation of his left leg. Fisher House was proud to be there for him and his family throughout his recovery.
"Having family by my bedside was the biggest benefit in my healing process," said Will. "Hero Miles relieved the financial burden of travel for my family going back and forth from their home to be at my bedside."
Having family by his side lessened Will's stress and enabled him to devote his attention to rehabilitation and the comfort and confidence he found in sports. A former collegiate athlete, adaptive sports allowed Will to compete once again. His passion for athletics led him to excel post-recovery and earn a spot on the Invictus Games teams. Will won three bronze medals in 2014 and served as co-captain of the 2016 U.S. Team.
Protecting this great nation is not a sacrifice made just by a service member, it is a sacrifice their entire family makes. As such, it is our duty to honor that sacrifice when they come home. Fisher House will always be there for our greatest national treasures – our service men and women and their loved ones.
Ken Fisher is the CEO and Chairman of the Fisher House Foundation.