JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center staff, patients, and beneficiaries took to the field just outside two of BAMC's Fisher Houses to hold a Founder's Day Celebration Sept. 20 to honor Zachary Fisher -- who initiated the Fisher House program in 1990.
"Today, we remember a true gentleman who really embraced the military and dedicated himself to supporting the troops and their families," said Inge K. Godfrey, BAMC Fisher House manager.
Godfrey has been with the Fisher House for 27 years. Staff at each installation with a Fisher House can choose how to commemorate Founder's Day, which is timed to closely coincide with Zachary Fisher's birthday. This year's event marks the 26th annual celebration Godfrey's held at BAMC.
"This is our way of giving back to the volunteers, to the military here, and to the BAMC staff," Godfrey said. "We get great support from all the BAMC staff -- the military, the civil service and the contractors."
Dave Rios, a local radio icon in San Antonio, served as the master of ceremonies for the event. The celebration opened with the BAMC color guard posting the colors. Air Force veteran Brenná Parker, who once toured with the Air Force's Tops in Blue performance ensemble, performed the national anthem during the ceremony. The Young Farmers of Gonzales, Texas served more than 1,400 pounds of brisket and more than 800 pounds of sausage; and, organizations from around San Antonio were on hand to help serve the meals.
"When people walk into a Fisher House, we want them to know that people care about them," said Dave Coker, president of the Fisher House Foundation. "This reminds us of why we are here. We're here to take care of the families of our greatest national treasure -- the U.S. military. And nobody does it better than Inge."
BAMC has four Fisher Houses on its campus. The first opened its doors in 1992; the second in 1995; and the two closest to the Center for the Intrepid opened in 2007. Military and veteran families can stay in any of the Fisher Houses free of charge while their loved one is at BAMC. There are currently 84 Fisher Houses around the world with seven more in the works over the course of the next year. Since their inception, more than 368,000 families have stayed at a Fisher House.
"It's been a blessing," said Donna Lowery, who was the longest steady resident at the BAMC Fisher House.
Her husband is a retired Coast Guardsman. During her hospitalization, she developed sepsis which led to the surgical amputation of all four extremities. She and her husband lived at the Fisher House from September 2014 through August 2019.
"I am grateful for the people here, the volunteers who come out, and for everyone who supports the Fisher House," Lowery said. "I never would have been able to receive the treatment I needed had it not been for the Fisher House."