Ken Fisher, Chairman of Fisher House Foundation, addresses the audience at the dedication ceremony for the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen here Nov. 10, 2010. The house was gifted to the Air Force to support families coming to Dover to witness the dignified transfer of a loved one. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Minto)
The plaque located outside the main door to the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen is a tribute to the families who will stay there. "The thanks of a grateful nation will be the brick and mortar that hold these houses together," said Ken Fisher, Chairman of Fisher House Foundation, during the dedication ceremony here Nov. 10, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Minto)
American Gold Star Mothers pose with Montel Williams in front of the Meditation Pavilion across from the new Fisher House for Families of the Fallen following a ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 10, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Minto)
by Christin Michaud
Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs
11/10/2010 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- A Fisher House for Families of the Fallen opened its doors during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 10, at Dover Air Force Base, Del., after six months of dedicated construction.
For the first time since the Fisher House Foundation began 20 years ago, a house has been built to serve as a place for families who come to Dover AFB to witness the dignified transfer of a loved one.
Fisher Houses have supported military families and Veterans near medical facilities across the nation for two decades. Although this is the 50th Fisher House to be built, it is special because unlike the others, this house will not be located next to a military hospital or Veterans Administration medical center. Instead, it is adjacent to the Center for Families of the Fallen, where those who come to Dover receive care and support, before and after the dignified transfer. The center also provides a point of contact where families can request follow-up assistance, such as counseling services or other needs, as they cope with the loss of their loved one.
Across from the Fisher House is a Mediation Pavilion designed to provide a quiet place for families to gather, pray and reflect during their stay at the Fisher House.
Both buildings were gifted to the Air Force on behalf of the Fisher House Foundations and were made possible by private donations.
"This is a unique kind of Fisher House, created to provide comfort and solace for families dealing with the worst of war," said Ken Fisher, Chairman of Fisher House Foundation. "At the same time, this new facility is wholly consistent with the Fisher House mission of providing our military families the love and support they not only need, but to which they are entitled."
The nine-suite house will offer a place for families of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to stay when they travel to Dover where their loved ones are returned to American soil and prepared for the journey home to their final resting place. The short-term lodging is available at no cost to families.
"The thanks of a grateful nation will be the brick and mortar that hold these houses together," said Mr. Fisher.
This new facility is especially close to American Gold Star Mothers, an organization comprised of mothers who have lost a son or daughter serving in the military. They are mothers reaching out to mothers who understand.
"I don't have to explain my emotions to another Gold Star Mother," said Molly Morel, National President of the American Gold Star Mothers "We understand each other ... it is a healing process for us.
"When my son was killed in 2004 families weren't encouraged to come and it is one of the regrets that I have that I was not be able to be here. It is so very important to us that the families have a safe warm place to come where they have a home atmosphere - a home away from home. It is everything and more than that."
The Gold Star Mothers raised more than $75,000 in support of the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen.
"There's not a spot closer to our hearts than this house for the families of the fallen," she said.
The dedication of this special house and its significance for the fallen and their families was an honor for the Fisher House Foundation.
"Being with the Gold Star mothers and being with so many that have sacrificed - it's really hard to put into words without really getting emotional - just being here and being able to support the work that is being done here that nobody knows about is the best part of the day for me, said Mr. Fisher.
"To our Gold Star Mothers: You are the true nation's heroes, and your sons and daughter are the true nation's heroes. May God bless you, may God bless their memory, may God bless those who are still in harms way, and may God bless America."