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Stories from Fisher House

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S: Fisher House - JBLM

1: Stories from the Fisher House This book is a collection of personal journal entries from Fisher House guests. Lay it on the coffee table, set it on a shelf, but never forget the Stories from the Fisher House. Dedicated in 1992, The Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) Fisher House provides service members and their families temporary housing while they receive medical care. Oftentimes their symptoms are obvious – therefore, visible on the surface and marked by scars, hair loss, or a metal brace. However, the stories that bring them to the house remain buried and lost in the chaos of recovery. To honor the guests who have called Fisher House their home, and to thank those who have donated their time, talents and money to this worthy cause, we share those stories with you.

2: I am 23, a Navy wife since Oct. 27, 2007 and the mommy of a wonderful 7 month old. Life was perfect as a full time homemaker until 2 weeks ago when my husband, 29, found out he may have cancer. He was admitted May 4, 2009 to begin treatment for stage 4, type B Hodgkins Lymphoma. Our life has been turned upside down with all our family 2 states away. The Fisher House has brought me so much comfort already! I feel so blessed to be able to stay so close to my husband during these hard days. It’s amazing that strangers, yet my military community, offer something as this with such generosity! I wish I could give everyone who donates their time personalized gifts, a huge hug and a heartfelt Thank You! Krissy Dill

3: July 9, 2005 Dear Fisher House Staff, Thank you for the privilege of staying at your house. Our son and Ashley’s husband, Tim Bomke, was seriously injured in Iraq in early June 2005 and was eventually flown to Madigan to be close to his home in Portland. We are all so proud of him and all who serve our great country. Furthermore, we are eternally grateful to the people who carry on the Fishers’ desire to establish a warm, comfortable “home” for the families of men and women who selflessly serve all Americans. It was so wonderful to be with Tim as he gradually improved each day. All of you at Fisher House made it so easy for us to come together as a family in this time of crisis. God bless you all for your kind and loving care. Larry and Kathie Bomke For 1LT. Timothy Bomke Portland, OR Oregon National Guard

4: December 21, 2005 Words cannot express how thankful we are for the Fisher House. The staff and families here are fantastic. I don’t know what we would have done without them. They are truly a blessing. After his 10th jaw surgery, my husband Rob and I get to go home for Christmas to be with our two boys. We will come back in January for another surgery. We are just so thankful for such a warm and loving homelike setting that’s provided here. It has been a long and tough few months for us. My best wishes for all who follow behind us. May your stay here be short and wonderful. Jennifer Wilson, Ft. Wainwright, AK

5: Oct. 29, 2010 Thank you Fisher House for helping our family in our time of need. We greatly appreciate the “home away from home” and all the special gifts. We are from Chetek, Wisconsin and flew out to be with our sister to comfort her after the loss of her husband. We are flying to Texas in the morning for the funeral, and are happy to get some rest before the long, emotional journey that lies ahead. Thanks, Andrea Motzer and Lisa Parks | April 5, 2008 Dear Fisher House staff and helpers, Thank you so much for the quiet, homelike room and other accommodations. They were greatly appreciated! I haven’t been able to write until today. Our little boy, 3 years old, was at Madigan for brain surgery and to be able to be near him was such a blessing. The Fisher House let my husband and I trade off to get some rest. We are going home now only after three days. It’s a great yet scary feeling! Thank you so much for all you have provided. It has been a true blessing to out family! Love, Debbie and Perry Williams and family

6: July 28, 2009 The Fisher House Family, Thank you for everything! We have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, Alexis. A year after Alexis was born, we lost our son and our world was crushed. On December 27, 2008 we found out we were pregnant and were overjoyed and hopeful. At 29 weeks, my water broke. I was terrified. The pregnancy was normal. Daddy returned home from a deployment and three days later we were rushed to the E.R. On June 24, 2009 our daughter, Brynna Kaillana was born weighing 3 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 15.4 inches. She is our little miracle. We were happy and excited, but then we remembered we live over an hour away from the hospital where Brynna needed to stay! The social worker told us about Fisher House, and that eased our stress. After 10 days my husband had to return home to work while my daughter and I stayed with Brynna. The Fisher House gave me the chance to see my baby everyday in the NICU and to have a nice bed to sleep in at night. While caring for our new baby, Alexis had a lot of new experiences. As a mother, I felt horrible for moving her around and spending hours in the NICU. Then we had a Christmas in July event. Santa came and I cried tears of joy for the kindness of others. Santa handed my daughter a DVD and told her to take it home. She looked at Santa and said, “But I am home.” All my problems and worries lifted away. Thank you for making our family feel at home. Chris, Sierra, Alexis, and Brynna Cruse USS Nebraska Blue, Bangar WA God Bless You All!

7: Above: The Salmon Family with Santa Above Right: PFC Hollows telling Santa his Christmas wish Right: All smiles with Santa!

8: March 5, 2011 Our little family came from Alaska to JBLM to receive bilateral cochlear implants for our 16 month old son Austin. It had been a worry of mine regarding where we would stay during an already stressful time in our lives. We arrived at the Fisher House on February 28 and when we walked in we were so very touched and grateful that we were staying in a clean, comfortable, loving environment! The hospitality that we experienced was amazing and it helped being around others that were going through medical stresses. Our son was successfully implanted and will forever be changed as will I and the rest of our family. Thank god for the Fisher House! I truly know that our family will seek out Fisher Houses where every we are stationed to give back by donating time, money and any thing we can give! Prayers and well wishes for this oh so charitable organization! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! The Colby Family

9: August 24, 2009 I want to thank Fisher House for allowing me and my daughter to stay here. I left home with hardly anything for Angel to play with on our trip, and I worried she would be bored during our stay. I was so wrong. Angel felt right at home. She had lots of toys to play with and lots of movies to watch. She got to see her daddy who she’s only seen five times since birth, even though she just turned 2 years old. My husband has been away on deployments since I was 6-months-pregnant. He was injured in Iraq and is scheduled to have surgery on his back soon. I’m very grateful we got to see him before the surgery. The staff here is awesome. The folks here are really sweet and are all fighting their own battles. I miss my husband dearly, but with the support and love the Fisher House demonstrates, life is so much easier. God bless you all for making my family’s reunion possible. Andrea and Baby Angel Mia Llaguno

10: Petty Officer Andrew Sortland shares a smile with his daughter, Grace Parker, on May 14, 2010. Grace and her twin brother, Owen Arthur, were born to Sortland and his wife, Carmen, eight weeks prematurely on April 26 at Madigan Army Medical Center. Andrew and Carmen Sortland, who live more than an hour away in Bremerton, are making their temporary home the JBLM Fisher House, located nearby. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without Fisher House,” Andrew said.

11: Petty Officer Andrew Sortland bonds with his infant daughter, Grace, while wife Carmen looks on. “Fisher House is amazing,” Andrew Sortland said, “A life saver.”

12: October 28, 2007 Our story is the same as a few others who have stayed in this room. About six weeks ago, we received the call that we had avoided for nine prior tours of duty. My brother, the invincible SSG Mike Jones, had been taken down in an ambush in Afghanistan. He’s an Army Ranger, which we all knew was a dangerous job, but it was his 10th and last tour, so we all thought our family would not have to deal with the pain of seeing a loved one recover from serious battle wounds. My father was the first to arrive at the Fisher House. He has called the Fisher House home for over a month and has about another month and a half of its comfort left. While I am only able to be here for a weekend, the time I’ve spent here makes me thank God for the Fisher House. The small comforts of home, the warmth and generosity of organizations and families that donate to the home and the financial relief that the Fisher House provides has made it possible for our family to have someone here with my brother as he endures almost daily surgeries. With so much going on, it means the world that we are able to provide that family support to him. Hopefully, room 8 will soon be a comforting place for another family, and we can take my brother home. God bless to all and thank you again to the many people who make the Fisher House a reality. The Jones Family Michael, Sandy, Amy, Amanda, and Adam Jones Yorba Linda, CA

13: July 8, 2001 Fisher House was truly a godsend to me, especially when several of my children arrived to be with me. It is so serene and a welcome respite after spending hours in the ICU. All of the staff and volunteers who keep this place going are a blessing to everyone who stays here. Unfortunately, my husband was not able to overcome all the complications following his surgery. This beautiful house and grounds have helped ease my grief after saying goodbye to my best friend. Thank you all and God bless you. I hope everyone who stays in room 8 will feel the peace I have felt here. Sincerely, Meredith Roberts, Chimacum, WA

14: Every parent dreads that phone call; the one where you hear your son has been injured. He’s not even reachable – he’s in Afghanistan and he’s been shot. It is heart wrenching and one of the hardest things parents and loved ones go through when their son, daughter, wife, husband or loved one serves their country. We know, we went through that in July of 2009. We were so fortunate though that our son was able to contact us and let us know he was all right. We followed his progress through surgery in Afghanistan, Germany and eventually he would have to have yet another one when he got back to the states. We couldn’t be there in Afghanistan or Germany, but we wanted to be with him in Fort Lewis. There is nothing more reassuring than being able to see your loved one, to reassure yourself that they will be fine. We knew it would take some help to get there in time to see our son and we didn’t know how to accomplish it in the short time we had after we were notified he was on his way home. That’s where Fisher House came in. Without the assistance of Fisher House and all the people that make Fisher House the wonderful organization it is, we wouldn’t have made it to see our son and be with him for his last surgery.

15: Fisher House got us on a flight from Florida to Seattle in time to see our son before surgery and they very graciously put us up in Fisher House so we could be close to him while he recovered. We don’t know what we would have done had it not been for Fisher House and we are so grateful for all they did. Our son is completely recovered and we had the blessing of being able to be there for a short time to see him and reassure ourselves that he was truly going to be ok. Thank you Fisher House; we will never forget the role you played in our lives. The Welch’s

16: June 26, 2008 We arrived here at our new home March 5, 2008. I am amazed at how beautiful it is, including the people. After being here for almost four months, we are still waiting for Jaimie to get new lungs. She is amazing and strong, not to mention kind and loving. When she was irst diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension on June 30, 2006, a lung transplant seemed so far off. We’ve moved from Midvale, Utah so she can receive the best care at the University of Washington Medical Center. Jaimie is #1 on the wait list. At any time we could get “the call.” Maybe today? We are thankful for everyone here at the Fisher House. We live, learn and love through everyone’s struggles and triumphs. Be Blessed!

17: June 16, 2007 Thank you to all the people who allowed me to stay at the Fisher House while my son was recovering at Madigan Army Medical Center. He was hit by and I.E.D. while driving a Stryker and sustained injuries to both his legs. It will be awhile before he can walk without help, but I was able to be with him every day. This meant the world to me. My heart goes out to all the soldiers! May God watch over all of them. Angie Lloyd | October 2010 Dear Fisher House, Thank you for letting us stay here and visit our Daddy. It has been a long time since he went to war in Afghanistan and was hurt really bad. Thank you for the toys, pillows, blankets, food, and coloring books. We really like playing on the toys outside and in the living room. Brooklynn loved watching Elmo Goes to the Doctor. Sydney loved the homemade brownies and Cole loves the kid-size bathtub in the bathroom. We love our Daddy so much. Thank you. The Houghland Family

18: Seth Theriault: Seth was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2007 and has been a frequent Fisher House guest ever since. Happily he is now in remission and a healthy young boy!

19: Griswold Family: Gary Griswold and his mother LeeAnn stayed at the Fisher House after Gary was injured in Afghanistan.

20: July 10, 2010 Our names are Joseph and Jennifer Deer. We are both active duty, stationed in Silverdale, Washington. Our daughter, Kaylee Isabel, was born June 6 at 30 weeks and 5 days. We can’t thank the Fisher House enough for providing us with a place to live so close to the hospital, as our real home is an hour away. It really relieved a lot of stress from having a premature baby. During our stay here, they never stopped surprising us with home cooked meals, donated gifts, special events and many other gratuitous things. It has been an absolute blessing to stay here for over a month. Thank you again to the Fisher House Foundation and all of the volunteers who make all of this possible. Kaylee is now healthy and ready to go home tomorrow. God Bless! The Deer Family

21: May 16, 2007 My son was in Iraq on May 6, 2007 when his Stryker hit a roadside bomb. My son was the only person found alive inside. 6 brave soldiers from his unit and one Russian reporter died. God wrapped his arms around my son that day. All the glory belongs to our Lord. I cry tears of gratefulness. Thank you Fisher House for allowing me to stay here so that I may be close to my son. I will be traveling back to my home state of Virginia, along with my son for the rest of his recovery. Thank you again Fisher House and the Earth Angels that help run and support this home. May the Lord bless you all and all that come to this house. Mother of a soldier

22: Our home is Fairbanks, Alaska. The Fisher House became our home away from the Fairbanks home! We are here for the cancer treatment of our 16-year-old daughter since beginning of December 2010. She had been playing competetive volleyball only 3 days before her very surprising preliminary diagnosis, which brought us to Fort Lewis. She was seen at Madigan Army Medical Center by the oncologist on her 16 th birthday and is fighting the cancer hard. Our daughter is having outstanding medical care from a very careing medical team! I want to take the opportunity to express our outmost gratitude for being able to stay at the Fisher House. It has been 3 months now, and the Fisher House has been a saving grace in the matter of where we stay. Having extended medical care away from home brings up a lot of issues, including where to stay in between diagnostic and treatment regiments. The Fisher House provides us not only with a comfortable and very neat room, but it provides also the opportunity to use a common kitchen, living room, and laundry room. Frequently volunteers provide home cooked meals, which is an additional blessing. No place like this would work so wonderfuly without awesome staff. They have always an open ear, a hug and tissue for tough moments, and a welcoming smile. Often they can provide resources for upcoming needs, i.e. access to a laptop and printer for information we parents look up on the internet. Not to forget an additional blanket, some paper, detergent, etc. All items are donated or purchased from monetary donation.s Thank you to all people, organizations or businesses that are willing to help for people in need! It could not be done without you!

24: October 19, 2007 Me and my 3-year-old daughter got here on the 8th of October. We didn’t know how we were going to manage the payments at the Ft. Lewis Lodge. I talked to one of the receptionists and she referred me to Fisher House. Still skeptical about the place, I went ahead and contacted them. That same day they responded, and told me that they had a room available for us. So here we are residing at the Fisher House. I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but so far it’s been four days, and the staff here is remarkably friendly. They are the ones who make it easier for me and my daughter to feel like this is our home. Their kindness brings joy to this place. Thank God we found this place full of warmth and peace. Also, the other guests are great and friendly people. We’re blessed to have found such a place to stay. Thank you Fisher House. Continued | December 7, 2007 Today is our last day here. “Heaven!” I will never forget Fisher House. They came to our rescue. We are so blessed that we had this chance to know what the Fisher House is all about. I believe in my heart that Fisher House is an angel sent from up above, to comfort and embrace us through our time of tragedy. The constant hospitality, warm smiles, and always being there was enough to overwhelm me and my daughter. God Bless Fisher House. I will never forget you. Margaret and Nesi Tuitama

25: October 28, 2010 My husband and I are very lucky to have many angels in our life. We have been married less than a year, and we just had our daughter eight weeks ago. My husband was injured during a night mission and was shot in the leg. He was home within four days and being operated on by great doctors. My husband needed me closer so I could help him cope with the pain. We came to the Fisher House so I could take care of him and take care of our daughter. Since he had a “no contact” status due to bacteria from Afghanistan, our daughter had to stay here so she would not get sick. My mom was so gracious to take time off work to watch the baby while I stayed with my husband until he fell asleep at night. I can’t thank Fisher House enough for letting us stay so close to the man of our family. He is the love of my life and we were one inch away from no longer having him. I feel so comforted by the thought that places like this exist for soldiers and their families. It will be a long journey for us while he re-learns to walk, but I know this will make our family and marriage stronger. Bless all the soldiers and their families. Peace and love.

26: Ryan Berry gets a facial at the annual Fisher House Valentine's Day party. Ryan and his mother Monica stayed at the Fisher House for a year while he received treatment for cancer.

28: January 19, 2011 We (my son and I) arrived here on Tuesday, January 17, 2011. We are here to attend the memorial for my son, Sgt. Zachary A. Darras held on January 18, 2011. It has been so helpful to be able to see where he worked and lived these past five years. The Army could not have been more loving and helpful. We are truly grateful for such kind hospitality shown to us by everyone, and so grateful to the Fisher House for removing any worries about where to stay and how to get around. We were able to visit and talk to many friends of my son, and hear stories from his two tours in Iraq. We have learned more about our Army family, and have felt so loved and honored during this difficult time. We are so proud of his service and what he accomplished in his short lifetime. Thank you so much! Debra Lafon

29: May 10, 2010 First like may I want to express my full gratitude for the Fisher House and Staff. My stay here has been relaxing and peaceful on so many levels. My husband and I were scrambling to find ways to get my son and me up here to Ft Lewis from Portland, Oregon financial stress being our largest hurdle. We both are E4’s in the ORARG. My husband deployed March 2009 and was Med Evac’d to Madigan Feb. 2010. He had been wounded while on a convoy. I stayed home on rear d due to having our first born May 21, 2009. After being separated for a year, my husband only knowing our son due to Skype, I was both scared and thankful for his injury bringing him home. After several weekends of making the trip up here and spending upwards to 300.00 a weekend on E4 pay we found ourselves broke and his surgery coming up quickly. When we heard of the Fisher House we called immediately and found this place to be exactly what we needed. Over the last 2 weeks since my husband’s surgery, because of our stay here my son has had the time to start to know his daddy. My husband has been able to heal with the comforts of being home with his family and home cooking. I have been able to be a wife again. The Fisher House is more than just a nice place to stay or a relief from financial stresses. The Fisher House is also a beautiful bridge that makes bringing together a family so much easier even in heavy hearted moments of life. My husband’s stitches come out tomorrow and we get to take him home for 2 weeks, making a month that we have been able to be a family within arm’s length. That’s the longest we have had since he deployed since our son was born. And it is thanks to the Fisher House, the Staff, Volunteers and Donations. Thank You from the bottom of my heart. The Miller Family

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  • By: Jodi L.
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