Cumberland Times-News

July 29, 2013

Congressman’s amendment to bill adds funds for Fisher houses

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — An amendment that passed to a defense spending bill by Congress would increase funding for Fisher houses, homes that provide free lodging near hospitals for families of members of military and veterans to stay while their loved ones are getting treatment.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney introduced the amendment to add funding last week. The amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act passed July 23. The complete bill passed by a 315-109 vote the next day. The U.S. Senate is now considering the appropriations bill.

Delaney’s amendment, which increases funding for the Fisher House Account by $16 million, would pay for the construction of at least new four new Fisher houses and is offset by a reduction in the Defense-Wide Operation and Maintenance Account, ac-cording to a press release from Delaney’s office.

The amendment increases funding for Fisher houses from $4 million to $20 million. The new homes would give 2,000 additional military families lodging per year.

“Fisher houses represent the very best of our country: our nation standing alongside our military families in a time of need. I offered this amendment to the defense budget because Fisher homes make a huge difference to our service men and women, veterans and military families. This is a concrete way we can really help, financially and emotionally,” said Delaney. “I am pleased that this amendment passed and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to support military families.”

The leader of the Fisher House foundation praised the measure.

“The need is great for our nation’s military and veterans; at a time when most Americans think that supporting our troops is no longer needed, now is the time it’s needed more than ever. This amendment will allow Fisher House Foundation to greatly expand our networks of homes, helping even more military, veterans and their families,” said Ken Fisher, CEO, Fisher House Foundation.

In 2012, more than 19,000 military families were housed for an average of 10 days, saving the families more than $30 million n lodging food or transportation costs, officials said.

The organization’s website provides more details about the houses.

“A Fisher House is ‘a home away from home’ for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes are normally located within walking distance of the treatment facility or have transportation available. There are 61 Fisher houses located in the United States and Germany. ... Each  house is designed to provide eight to 21 suites,” according to the website.

More about Fisher houses can be found at www.fisherhouse.org.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.