A recent telethon benefiting Fort Hood’s Fisher House raised nearly $25,000 for the “home away from home” that provides military and veteran service members’ families with free housing while the service member or veteran receives medical care at a local military or veterans hospital.

Hosted by the local NBC affiliate television station, KCEN, the money raised during the Aug. 11 event will be used to provide Fisher House guests with home and personal hygiene items.

“No one is ever prepared for an emergency,” said Theresa Johnson, Fisher House manager. “The first thing you think about is getting to that loved one, so people forget to pack things. We make sure we have everything on hand for them, including laundry supplies and personal hygiene products.”

Fort Hood’s seven-room Fisher House opened in 1998, the 24th of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher’s homes.

According to the Fisher House Foundation, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $320 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation. To date, there are 71 Fisher Houses throughout the United States and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

“To the soldiers, Fisher House is somewhat of a sanctuary with an environment that has that warm and fuzzy feeling,” said Trevor Green, whose Green Knights motorcycle riding club donated more than $1,200 worth of cleaning supplies and paper goods to Fisher House during the telethon.

It also was the first time the chapter president had visited a Fisher House.

“I’ve always known about the purpose of Fisher houses, so it’s an honor to be able to come here today,” the chapter president said. “It really is about soldiers helping soldiers in our community.”

According to Johnson, “Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members, as well as the Hotels for Heroes program — using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge.”

“People know that the lodging part is taken care of, but we also have the ability to give them flights through Hero Miles,” said Johnson. “The military can’t cover airfare expenses for the grandparents, in laws, etc., but Hero Miles fills in that gap.”

Johnson said that Hero Miles is another donation avenue that doesn’t cost a penny.

“Many people don’t realize they are sitting on a gold mine of airline miles or expiring hotel points,” she said. “You can donate them to the Fisher House Foundation and they never expire.”

Since 2005, the Operation Hero Miles program has provided more than 58,000 plane tickets to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom wounded warriors and their families, worth nearly $88 million.To find out more information about the Fisher House Foundation and its various programs, go to www.fisherhouse.org.

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