By Tiffanie Witt
Since birth Vivian Wilson has served the United States military by growing up as a military child and continuing her connection through the Army Fisher House Program.
In April Wilson packed up her family and move from Virginia to Fort Campbell where she will manage the new Fisher House, located on Indiana Avenue and Air Assault Street. Wilson administered the operation of the first Army Fisher House in 1991 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
With 15 years of experience at Walter Reed, she has met and worked with 101st Soldiers and families over the past three years. The most rewarding part of her job will be welcoming them home, reuniting families, and providing service beginning this week, according to Wilson.
Being a wounded Soldier could mean lengthy stays in the hospital miles away from home, heavy expenses and extended separations from family. The Fisher House offers Soldiers and families a "home" to reside in while getting treatment at an Army hospital.
"Good well-being and emotional healing can go on in a place like this," said Col. Pat Saulsbery, commander of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
"This Fisher House is an opportunity to give back to our military heroes and their families," Wilson said. "It also helps Soldiers to reintegrate back into family and civilian life."
In preparing for the grand opening June 6, Wilson has worked with BACH, the Military Severely Injured Program and the chaplain's office, developed a budget, recruited volunteers, purchased needed items, and marketed the Fisher House. Once the Fisher House opens, she will continue those duties and be available 24 hours a day to assist the Soldiers and families with anything they need.
The Fort Campbell Fisher House is equipped with eight bedrooms, each having its own bathroom. The families share a living room with fireplace, family room, kitchen and dining room. In addition, there is Fisher House parking, basic food items, appliances and furnishings.
The one-story building is completely handicap accessible with large bathrooms, wall-mounted shower seats and extra-wide hallways.
The family room is connected to the large, open kitchen area. It offers a great area for Soldiers to lay down on the plush area rug and play with their children while other family members are cooking or hanging out in the kitchen, Wilson said.
The Fisher House relies heavily on donations. Many donations have been given to the Fisher House to assist in quality of life issues for the families residing there. Recently CH2MHill, Fort Campbell water utility company, contributed $10,000. The Enlisted Spouses' Club continuously holds fundraising events as well.
"I have never seen such benevolence and support as I have here at For Campbell," Wilson said. "It has made my job easier with other people willing to help."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski