Fisher House featured on Project Homefront

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If you currently serve in the military, or are a veteran, you should know about the Fisher House. These homes can be found at military bases all around the country, and are named in honor of a gentleman by the name of Avery Fisher.

Fisher was an immensely wealthy East Coast businessman, who had a wonderful idea. He decided to build a home on America's military bases, that would be a place for families to stay while their loved ones were undergoing medical treatment at the base medical facility.

There is a Fisher House at Keesler Air Force Base that opened 17 years ago. At the time, it was just the sixth Fisher House in the nation; Today there are 46.

Mr. Fisher passed away several years ago. But Larry Vetter, the executive director of the home at Keesler, had a chance to talk with Fisher back when the Keesler home opened.

"I think he would have been very proud," Vetter said. " I think he would be very proud of what is going on with his legacy."

The house at Keesler is more than 5,000 square feet, with nine guest rooms. It's beautiful and, more importantly, comfortable. But best of all, there is no cost involved for those who stay there.

Yohan Nilsen and his wife, Agnes, were stunned when they learned about Fisher House.

"When we walked through the doors of this place, we were astonished," Yohan said.

Yohan is a military veteran now living in Montana. He is being treated at Keesler's Medical Center for problems with his heart. They plan to move back to South Mississippi, since this is where Yohan grew up. They were staying quite a distance away, at a small motel, but then they learned about the Fisher House.

"I never knew it was here, until the social service worker at the VA told me," Nilsen said.

Now, like every one of the 450 to 500 families who stay here at some point during the year, it is costing this family nothing. But they get so much in return.

And if Avery Fisher were alive today?

"Well, first I would hug his neck, and then I would say what a wonderful unselfish thing he has done," Agnes Nilsen told us, with a big smile on her face.

Agnes and Yohan love the place and the people here, but Yohan is the kind of guy who is always ready with a joke. With a big grin, he told us he has asked the manager to see if he could be served breakfast in bed. So far, Yohan chuckled, he has had no response.

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