You will find them on the grounds of major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country and in Germany. They allow military families to stay for free while veterans and active-duty military members are receiving treatment.

Fisher Houses have provided comfort during stressful times since the first ones opened in 1991 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Since the Fisher House Foundation began, it has served more than 142,000 families, who have received 3.5 million days of lodging, saving them more than $165 million in lodging and transportation costs.

The 46th of 54 Fisher Houses opened in 2010 at the VA Boston Healthcare System in West Roxbury, Mass. Brigadier General John J. McGuiness, Natick Soldier Systems Center senior commander, toured that facility Sept. 15 and met with Audrey Fisher, vice chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, and her mother, Laura Randall.

The Boston Fisher house has 20 suites, each with a private bathroom, and spectacular common areas spread over 17,000 square feet. The grounds are impeccably manicured and highlighted by a tranquil garden completed just this year.

"This is the new standard design," said Fisher, adding that houses elsewhere still can differ somewhat. "It depends on the location."

As McGuiness and the rest of the NSSC delegation toured the premises, they frequently remarked about the extraordinary attention to detail in the building's design.

"The foundation hires a decorator," explained Beth St. Pierre, who manages the Boston house. "It's all done before we even walk in."

The facility was a testament to the dedication of the Fisher House Foundation and its staff to taking care of military members and their families.

"It's like a four-star hotel," said Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, Natick garrison commander. "It restores your faith in humanity that people will do this for our men and women who serve."

"It was amazing," said Natick Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Warren. "It's incredible."

McGuiness came away clearly impressed with what he had seen at the Boston Fisher House. He lauded the staff for its continuing efforts to serve those who serve our country.

"You don't have to wear this uniform to serve the nation," McGuiness said. "They wear Fisher House uniforms, and they're serving the nation.

"It makes me want to go back and do more for our Soldiers."

Page last updated Fri September 16th, 2011 at 00:00