By Sarah Gantz
Thousands of military families have called Fisher Houses home, while they wait for their wounded service men and women to recover at military medical facilities across the country.
In Bethesda, three more will open at the National Naval Medical Center, as the hospital prepares to merge with Walter Reed Army Medical Center and become Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
First lady Michelle Obama will preside over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new houses Thursday.
The Fisher House Foundation maintains 50 homes at military medical facilities. The houses provide free housing for families who accompany military personnel in need of treatment and can serve as a social network for families going through similarly difficult times, said Cindy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the foundation.
"At the end of the day, you see the families huddled around a cup of coffee in the kitchen," said Campbell. "It's very important to have the camaraderie, the team spirit that really sustains these families through hard times."
The average stay is about 45 days, Campbell said, but families with relatives undergoing treatment for severe trauma injuries stay months.
Each of the three new Fisher Houses has 20 suites, for a total capacity of 75 families at Navy Med's Fisher Houses. The campus already has two Fisher Houses.
There are two Fisher Houses at Walter Reed's D.C. campus, but those will close when the hospital moves to Bethesda in September.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski