Joseph Krebs, a two-time Korean War Purple Heart recipient, makes no secret of his appreciation for the service to veterans and their families memorialized by the bronze bust of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher in the Washington, D.C. Fisher house.
“Every morning, when I pass their statue, I not only salute, I thank them for their amazing generosity. Just don’t know what I would do without the Fisher House,” said Krebs.
Krebs, who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, travels to the District’s VA hospital for treatment for a blood disorder that lasts anywhere from 5-6 months. With him is his caretaker, Dr. Kriangsak Pukawan, who has been with Krebs for 20 years.
“I come all the way to the VA here because I know all my doctors. It’s just superb care, that’s why I come. But I don’t know what I would do without a Fisher House. I either wouldn’t be able to come, or we would have to stay in an expensive hotel for six months, I guess. Fact is, this old Korean vet just doesn’t have that kind of money,” said Krebs.
Krebs, 82, was the youngest staff sergeant in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He later joined the Army Reserve and retired as a colonel. His two daughters, Mary Devine and Julia Krebs are also military veterans. His son William is an IT specialist.
“I’m very proud of my military service, and getting VA care is one of the best benefits. I’m lucky, my blood disorder is not terminal,” said Krebs, who expects to check out of Fisher House at the end of January after a 6-month stay, but he knows others will leave without their loved ones.
“I’ve known veterans who have passed away, and their relatives were at the Fisher House,” Krebs recalled. “I gave one of the relatives a hug. I assured her that her husband was at peace. I share my problems with some folks but not to any depth. I don’t want to invade others’ privacy and pry into their personal hardships. Don’t get me wrong, though. I have made some life-long friends at Fisher House.”
There are lots of fun times, too, said Krebs. On Jan.19, 2015, Krebs got to meet VA Secretary Robert McDonald, along with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, during “A Day of Service” in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. The group prepared lunch for Krebs and other veterans and their families.
One of the highlights of the event was the prayer led by Krebs. He thanked the hospital for his care, he thanked his family and the others there that day, and he thanked Fisher House.
The prayer ended with a rousing rendition of God Bless America -- led by Joseph Krebs, of course.