AFSVC makes Fisher Houses homes away from home
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
The Department of the Air Force Fisher House Program provides housing to military and veterans during difficult times.
“The 14 Department of the Air Force houses at eight installations offer families a place to rest their head, a place to come together or even a place to grieve,” said Mary McLean, DAF Fisher House program manager at the Air Force Services Center.
Ivana Jordovic, manager for the Fisher Houses at Travis Air Force Base, California, recalls how right before the holiday season in 2019, the Travis AFB Fisher Houses provided hope for a father and retired service member who stayed by his daughter’s bedside while she went through medical treatments at the base. While there, the family home was destroyed by wildfires that ravaged the state.
“They lost everything,” Jordovic said. “The Travis Fisher House meant so much to this family as they were going through all of this. It became their only home, and it was our job to support them as they were not only dealing with their daughter’s treatments but also trying to rebuild a life ravaged by wildfires.”
From the foundation’s inception in 1990 until recently, each Air Force Fisher House operated independently. In 2020, AFSVC, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, began program management and oversight responsibilities to provide consistency of care for families.
Each Fisher House provides up to 21 suites, including private bedrooms and baths, with a shared kitchen, laundry facilities, dining room and living room common areas.
“We had just realigned under AFSVC and were under a maintenance contract transition when the winter storm hit,” said Philip Harralson, JB San Antonio-Lackland Fisher House manager. “With leadership support, we worked with our base civil engineer to get the work completed as quickly as possible.”
“I’m an advocate for our house managers and help them find solutions to problems so they can remain focused on the families,” McLean said.
With leadership support being a critical component for success, the program manager conducts regular site visits and tours homes with installation leadership and civil engineers, sharing stories of families and the Fisher House mission along the way.
“Without their support after Winter Storm Uri, we never would have been able to get our operation back up and running, as we had broken pipes and fire suppression issues in multiple houses,” McLean said. “Base leadership was amazing.”
Over the past three decades, the Fisher House Foundation has served more than 430,000 families across the Department of Defense, saving families an estimated $547 million in out-of-pocket costs for transportation and lodging.
In fiscal year 2022 alone, the DAF program assisted more than 3,800 families for a total of 22,778 bed nights. Volunteers also supported the Fisher Houses with more than 3,700 hours.
Keeping the houses up and running to Air Force standards sometimes requires additional funds and support. This is where AFSVC’s management support comes in.
“Going through a devastating illness or losing a loved one is traumatic and lifechanging. Mary and our Fisher House teams are dedicated to being there for our military members and their families at these most difficult times,” said Col. Carolyn Ammons, AFSVC commander.