FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Military and civilian leaders cut the ribbon for the first Fort Belvoir Fisher House Tuesday during a dedication ceremony at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The Fort Belvoir Fisher House joins a network of 56 operational Fisher Houses in the United States and Germany.

Fisher Houses are homes donated to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs, where families can stay while a loved one is receiving treatment. Additionally, the Foundation ensures that families of service men and women wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are not burdened with unnecessary expense during a time of crisis.

"Each Fisher House is unique in design and decoration," said Roxannamaria Calderon, Fisher House manager. "We don't want it to look like cookie-cutter hotel rooms; this is supposed to be 'a home away from home.'"

The Fisher House at Fort Belvoir is a 10,000 square foot home with 12 private guest suites. The Fisher House includes various common areas including, a kitchen and spacious dining room, a family and living room, large laundry facility with multiple washers and dryers. The common areas and guest suites are professionally designed and furnished in the tone and style of the local area.

"This home represents an unwavering commitment to both patient and family-centered care and world-class care provided by the hospital," said Col. Susan Annicelli, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital commander. "As the newest addition to the fleet of Fisher homes opens its doors, it will serve as a beacon of care and comfort that will endure for generations to come."

The Fisher House program allows military families a place to stay, at no cost, while their loved one is in treatment at a nearby military treatment facility or Veterans Affairs hospital. The home offers a nurturing refuge from the stress of hospitalization, rehabilitation, and recovery.

A hospitalization can last weeks -- even months -- and Fisher Houses aim to provide more than just housing. Families can share their experiences with the other families living at the house and support one another.

"The families aren't just by the side of their own loves ones, they're by each other's side during these difficult times," said H.C. Barnum, Medal of Honor recipient.

"These homes provide our service members with the very best medicine possible, which is the love and support of their family members," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, III.

Fisher Houses across the nation and in Germany have saved thousands of families with an estimated $192 million in lodging and transportation costs. Ken Fisher, chairman and chief executive officer of Fisher House Foundation, said the foundation is more than just building houses.

"Fisher House believes that 'Thank you for your service' is not enough anymore," Fisher said. "It's more than just words, it is now deeds. It's remembering that behind each and every man or woman that wears this nation's uniform is a family and that family serves this nation too."