For our nation’s veterans — thanking you isn't enough

For our nation’s veterans — thanking you isn't enough

More than 25 years ago, my Great Uncle, Zachary Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, opened the first Fisher House to provide ‘a home away from home’ for families of wounded, injured or ill service members traveling far from home for medical treatment. They did it not just because they saw a great need, but because they knew that when it comes to our veterans, saying “thank you for your service” just isn’t enough.

Every time I turn on my television, I’m reminded that we live in an uncertain time. As a native New Yorker, I’m saddened and devastated by the senseless act of terror that occurred in my city recently. As an American, I’m frustrated by the dialogue surrounding our service members and veterans in the media and on the national stage.

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Most importantly, I’m driven by the conviction that we owe a tremendous debt to those who have answered the call to put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe.

 

With Veterans Day on the horizon, I think about the hundreds of thousands of families who have stayed in Fisher Houses over the last two and half decades. If they were still here today, Zach and Elizabeth would be so proud to see 72 homes across the country, but they would be amazed by the resilience, pride and strength of the heroes and families who have benefitted from them.  

Heroes like Will Reynolds, who was injured when an IED exploded and ultimately took his left leg above the knee. We were there for him and his family during months of surgeries and rehabilitation, and we were also there to celebrate his triumphs as he persevered through his injuries to participate in the Warrior Games and the Invictus Games as team captain.

I also think about the unsung heroes. The families — moms, dads, spouses, children — who made sacrifices during deployment and continue to give their all through recovery. Women like Minie Curry, whose husband Anson suffered traumatic and permanent brain injury in Afghanistan from a grenade explosion. Minie stayed with us in Palo Alto for nine months during Anson’s recovery and is the true embodiment of the vow ‘in sickness and in health’. We were there with Minie and Anson during the difficulties of treatment, but also during the joy when they renewed their wedding vows.

For all of the Wills and Minies in our country, “thank you for your service” isn’t enough. One day of celebration isn’t enough.

We owe everything to these brave men and women, and for my part, I’m going to continue building on my aunt and uncle’s legacy through continuing to make Fisher House a beacon and safe haven for our veterans, service members and their families.

We all have a role to play when it comes to serving those who have served us. Leaders in government on both sides of the aisle need to set an example for how to honor and respect the brave men and women fighting for their freedoms.

They must stop using veterans and their families as political footballs and instead channel their energies into creating policies that address underlying needs and both protect and honor service members and their families. The time for talk and empty promises must end.

We must keep veteran’s issues in the forefront so that every day is Veterans Day, not just Nov. 11. We have our own call of duty to ensure that our veterans receive that which they have earned —  a system that cares for them and a nation that truly honors service and sacrifice, because “thank you for your service” is not enough.

Ken Fisher is a partner at Fisher Brothers, and chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. Fisher House Foundation supports veterans and military families