VA Fisher House supporters get a big 'thank you'

By: Scott Huddleston
September 26, 2013
San Antonio Express News

It means everything to Cedric Broome to stay at the South Texas VA Fisher House, across the street from where his wife is recovering from a stroke she suffered in Afghanistan.

Broome's wife, Army Staff Sgt. Alaina Broome, is in a wheelchair, with extensive left-side paralysis. With daily physical therapy for nearly two months at Audie Murphy VA Hospital'sPolytrauma Rehabilitation Center, she has already begun using a walker to get around on her own.

“I don't think she'd be as strong without me here,” said Cedric Broome, who left behind their four daughters and his duties as a warehouse supervisor in Jackson, Miss., to help her.

Bolstering family support structures for wounded and severely ill troops and veterans is the core mission of the Fisher Houses, which offer temporary housing for their families in a setting that feels more like home than motel. The VA Fisher House, which opened in March, celebrated the birthday Thursday of the late Fisher House founder Zachary Fisher as way to thank the groups and businesses that keep that mission within reach.

Of the 62 Fisher Houses worldwide, San Antonio has eight. Seven are at local military installations.

House manager Harry Robinson said the 16-suite home at 7485 Wurzbach Road is typically at full capacity, and has had businesses donate everything from toiletries to televisions. The house welcomes groups to sponsor dinners and board game nights, and encourages donation of gift cards so families many miles from home can shop for clothes, food and other basic items.

Zachary Fisher, born in Brooklyn on Sept. 26, 1910, quit school at 16 to help his family as a bricklayer. He became a construction magnate and philanthropist, and opened the first Fisher House in Virginia in 1990. He dedicated San Antonio's first Fisher House, at Lackland AFB, in 1992, and died in 1999.

Dozens of students from the nearby Winston School served food and make thank-you cards for the families Thursday.

“To prepare for this, I explained to them what this place is, why it's important. I think it's good for them to see this in the backyard of their community,” said Erica Castillo, who teaches the younger students.

The fourth annual South Texas Veterans Courage Classic golf tournament on Oct. 14 will benefit the Fisher Houses. Kayla Valdez, a marketer for Texas Roadhouse restaurants, event sponsor, said she's impressed with the way relatives of recovering patients bond at the Fisher Houses.

“They form relationships through shared experiences,” Valdez said.

Broome said he wished there were more Fisher Houses at military and veterans hospitals.

“Everyone makes you feel at home,” he said.

To learn more about helping the local VA Fisher House or working as a volunteer at Audie Murphy, call 210-617-5107, or email stxvolsvc@va.gov.

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