Mary Burley, housekeeper at Keesler’s Fisher House, polishes a bronze statue of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, founders of the Fisher House program. By the time Zachary Fisher died in 1999, he and his wife had financed more than 20 Fisher Houses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
Otis Hall, an Army veteran from Pensacola, Fla., eats his cereal, reads the morning newspaper and enjoys the comforts that the Fisher House provides while he receives his medical treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
1/27/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Keesler's Fisher House served 456 families in 2010. Built in 1993, it was the sixth Fisher House opened of the 53 in operation today.
Keesler's facility is on Fisher Street, just a short walk from the 81st Medical Group Hospital and across the street from Sablich Center. Keesler's Fisher House is a 5,000 square foot, two-story residence for ill or injured patients and their loved ones being treated at either Keesler or the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Biloxi. It can accommodate nine families at a time.
Patterned after the Ronald McDonald Houses, the Fisher House serves a full range of
active duty, retired military, and veterans from all branches of the armed services. The criteria for occupancy is the guest should be a member of the "support team" of the patient hospitalized or being treated at the Keesler or the Biloxi VA medical facilities or a patient in an outpatient status.
Manager Larry Vetter said the facility has provided a home away from home for 6,374 families since he arrived in 1998.
The average occupancy rate is 94.5 percent and the average stay per family is 8.7 days. A family of four staying at Fisher House for a week saves an average of $950.
"There's no charge to the guests for their stay," Mr. Vetter pointed out. "One hundred percent of our donations go toward operations -- there are no administrative costs."
The Keesler Fisher House team also includes administrative assistant Patricia Morris
and housekeeper Mary Burley.
"In this job, I've experienced some of the mostrewarding times a person can with our greatest national treasure -- our armed forces men and women and their loved ones," Mr. Vetter said. "I see them struggle at the most difficult times and yet be so joyful for what they have during the worst times of their lives. I'm so proud of our troops and they
deserve the best we have to offer. The Fishers have done a wonderful thing providing these beautiful homes for us."