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Author: Josh DeMeester

‘Civic rent’ pays off at Fisher House

‘Civic rent’ pays off at Fisher House

Daily News

 EGLIN AFB – A refuge for families of injured and  sick service members is just a year away from  opening.

Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the  Fisher House of the Emerald Coast marked the  success of two years of planning and fund  raising.

“We’re going to be back next December to give a Christmas present to Eglin,” said Tom Rice, a Fisher House board member.

Fisher House homes offer free temporary room and board to families of servicemen and women receiving medical care. Eglin’s 10,000-square-foot facility will have 12 suites and be built across the road from Eglin Regional Hospital.

“It’s a bed and breakfast and operates 24-7,” Rice said.

“They call it a house, but we all know it is much more than that. It’s a home,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, who attended the groundbreaking. “I look forward to coming back as we open the doors.”

Since 2003, more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded, said Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune, commander of Eglin’s Air Armament Center.

“Doctors will tell you, it’s just as important as medicine and surgery in recovery,” he said of family support. “I take great comfort in knowing that our brave wounded have the family they need to nurse them back to health.”

 “This got started because of caring,” said Trecia Chedister, a founding member and former vice president of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. “Fisher House at Eglin is a reality because of you, the community. Thank you for caring for these families. The Fisher House will pay it forward for many, many years.”
Contributors included Army Rangers who collected more than $4,000 and Valparaiso Baptist Church, which raised $1,000.

Picture: Trecia Chedister, former Vice president Fisher House of the Emerald Coast Board, addresses the audience.

Rice said fund raising for the Fisher House was as simple as informing the public and answering the phone to say “thank you.”
He talked of the “civic rent” that each person involved in this project has paid. “Each one has paid civic rent and continues to do so,” said Rice.

The term comes from an Alabama mayor. “He said we’re all obliged to pay our civic rent. Some pay a little, some pay a lot, some pay with all they have,” Rice added.

To date, the Fisher House Foundation’s 42 houses have helped more than 500,000 families, said foundation president David Coker. “As impressive as that is, it’s not enough,” he said.

The Fisher House Foundation operates on congressionally appropriated funds in areas with demonstrated community participation. The homes are supported through a congressional trust fund and community donations. Once the local board showed community support, the funds were matched.

“I love the fact that the military and the public care enough about the military to support the Fisher House,” said Jane Eidsaune, wife of Gen. Eidsaune and an honorary board member.

Fisher House of the Emerald Coast will continue fund raising to support the cost of running the new house and for construction of future houses.

“In some ways, the Fisher House groundbreaking feels just like a finish line,” said Tony Hughes, president of the board for Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. “It’s not. It’s a start.”

To view more pictures of the event, please click here



Construction has begun!  The contract was signed in August and the expected completion is August/September 2010!  It’s great to see the earth moving!  If you are local, drive by and see for yourself.  We’re all very excited!

Local Veteran’s Charity Golf Tourney Nets $13,000 for Fisher House

1st Place Winners are from left to right, Karl Wicker, Pete Darmstetter, Donna Moses, and Dan Moses.

Local Veteran’s Charity Golf Tourney Nets $13,000 for Fisher House
On Saturday, 14 November under bright blue skies at Bay Dunes Golf Club, local Veterans Organizations held their annual fun Golf Tournament to benefit Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, an organization that builds lodging facilities near military and veterans hospitals to house visiting family members at no cost to the families.

The group, which consists of members of the local AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, and Military Order of the Purple Heart, is in its 7th year of fund raising and boasts over $70,000 raised to date towards needy Veterans causes.  This is the second  year that Fisher House was chosen by the group to receive the proceeds

This year, 107 players broken into teams played the course under excellent weather conditions and vied for prizes including a brand new 2009 Kia Automobile put up by Bill Byrd Kia.  Although no one won the auto, James Morris of James Auto missed the prize by about three feet.  With final scores adjusted to compensate for handicaps, there was less than a one point difference between the top three teams.

At the end of the day, it was the team consisting of  Karl Wicker Pete Darmstetter, Donna Moses, and Dan Moses that took home the winner’s trophies with a net score of 58.1 but more importantly, a fun time was had by all with door prizes being given to at least one player on each team.  Prizes were also given for Best Dressed, and Oldest and Youngest Players in the tournament.  The prizes were donated by local merchants who will be appropriately recognized in an upcoming edition of the News Herald.

Following the tournament, a check in the amount of $13,000 was presented to the Vice President of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Joe Oder.  This makes a total of $30,000 in the past two years in donations to the organization.  The facility is currently under construction right outside Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County and scheduled to open to accept visiting families next August.  In accepting the donation, Oder lauded the efforts of the group stating that in his visits to Fisher Houses around the state, the expression of appreciation on the faces of the families receiving lodging accommodations in the facilities is heartwarming and instills a sense of accomplishment to those involved in the effort. The group plans another tournament next year sometime around Veterans Day to support additional Veterans needs.  Story By:  Danny Somers – AMVETS Post 2298 Public Relations Officer

Team Eglin Public Affairs

by Lois Walsh
Team Eglin Public Affairs

9/2/2009 – EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The time-honored tradition of celebrating promotion with a party was rewritten by five lieutenant colonels ready to pin on new rank.

When Lt. Cols. Donald Finley, Gregory McNew, Mel Petersen, Charles Greenwald, and Doug Hagen were notified of their selection to colonel, they collectively decided to give back to the community. Instead of spending money on food and drinks, they donated the party funds to the Fisher House.

The Fisher House provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers. Construction is currently underway across from Eglin’s Regional Hospital on Boatner Road. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for fall 2010.

Tom Rice, vice president of the Fisher House Board of Directors said the donation is a welcomed addition to their fundraising.

“In our resort area, it is difficult for families to find lodging,” Mr. Rice said. A retired First Sergeant for the United States Army, Mr. Rice said the donation is “a gift that keeps on giving.

“At military functions like dining outs, we always have a table set to one side to remember those who were not able to attend,” he said. “In the same vein, everyone is able to attend this promotion party through their donation and it is a way to honor veterans well into the future.”

Colonel Greenwald, 46th Operation Group, said the idea of donating the funds grew after difficulty with the logistics of setting up a party. Since Lt. Col. Gregory McNew was reassigned and Lt. Col. Douglas Hagen was deploying, it complicated matters.  He also said that giving back to the local community, and Fisher House, is part of the Air Force tradition of service before self.

“It got to the point where it was fairly anticlimactic as we tried to hang with tradition,” he said. “I don’t know what sparked it (the donation), but it felt a little better to me personally,” he said.

Colonel Finley, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, handled the arrangements for the official check presentation. He said donating to the Fisher House made sense.

“They need help; it’s something military related, prominent and not military funded, so it seemed like a great choice,” the colonel said.

Colonel Petersen, who is assigned to the 53rd Wing, agreed.

“We thought ‘let’s pick a good charity and it will go to a good cause,'” he said. “In the end, everyone thought Fisher House was a worthy cause and needed a boost in their resources and visibility to help put it back on peoples’ scope.”

The donated funds will be used to keep the Fisher House operational after its opening.

Fisher House opens at Eglin

Fisher House opens at Eglin
by Sachel Seabrook
Team Eglin Public Affairs

9/13/2010 – EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla — Two years and one snip of the giant scissors late r ,the Fisher House, a safe-haven for families of ill and injured servicemembers, was dedicated here Sept. 10.

Cut above
Master Sgt. David Keeley and son Zachary are surrounded by community and base leaders as Zachary cuts the ribbon, officially opening the Fisher House Sept. 10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The new facility provides free lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at the base hospital or veteran’s center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sachel Seabrook.)

The new facility becomes the 47th Fisher House and is located only steps away from the Eglin hospital and veteran’s clinic. It provides free lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.

To date, the Fisher House Foundation has helped over 500,000 families.

“As impressive as that is, it’s not enough,” said foundation president David Coker.

Among those in attendance were Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, Commander of the Air Armament Center, retired Col. George E. “Bud” Day and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller.

“They call it a house, but we all know it is much more than that. It’s a home,” said the congressman.

The Fisher House of the Emerald Coast houses 12 family suites. Nationwide, the Fisher House program has offered more than three million days of lodging to people in need.

The Fisher House program was established by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher in 1990, who dedicated more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel.

The Fisher House Foundation provides “comfort homes,” built on major military instillations and VA medical centers for military personnel and their families who are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for medical care. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center.

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