House that helps veterans rehabilitate needs donations - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

House that helps veterans rehabilitate needs donations

Theresa Johnson Theresa Johnson
Ben Mesa Ben Mesa
Rose Marie Mesa Rose Marie Mesa

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

Honolulu - (Hawaii News Now) - Members of the military risk life and limb and as the country says thank you to those who serve our country, veterans give thanks to a service called the Fisher House.

The Fisher House is a positive place to heal.  It's for military personnel from any branch and their families who are suffering from a medical condition, but it will need more support if it wants to help more people.

The Fisher House looks and feels like a normal home, with smiles displayed in person and pasted on the fridge. But it's why these people are here that sets this house apart.

"There's 11 families in this one house. Everyone has a medical issue so when I start feeling sorry for myself I look at the other room where there is a sick little boy," says Rose Marie Mesa from Guam, who is living at one of the two Fisher Houses at Tripler Army Medical Center.

Mesa dislocated her neck while deployed in Afghanistan.  Then her spinal cord was clipped during surgery.  And if that wasn't enough, she was then diagnosed with skin cancer.

"My injuries are not, not that bad. I'm still alive," Mesa said as she fought back tears.  "Every day I tell myself there is something to be thankful for."
 
What's more painful is that she is a mother of eight.  Her three youngest kids are 8, 12 and 14 years old.  They are back home in Guam and being cared for by family.

"Behind every man is a strong woman. Behind every woman is a strong man and behind every couple is a strong family," said Mesa.  "When I first got here, they said I'll be here six months. I said, 'No, two tops and I'm out of here.' Then it was longer. Then it was longer."
 
Now it's been 14 months.  She has weekly lab appointments and treatments that aren't available in Guam.

"I can not afford to go down. I have kids," said Mesa.
 
At the Fisher House, a family member has to stay with the patient to cook, clean and care for them. In Rose Marie's case, her husband has been there every step of the way.

"She told me I can go home but I said no, we're in this together we'll get through this together," said Ben Mesa, Rose Marie's Husband.

The two Fisher Houses at Tripler Army Medical Center help between 150 and 200 families every year, but then there are 25 more families on the waiting list every month that don't get in because there isn't enough space.

 "We could have about 60 more rooms and stay busy. It's a very well kept secret up here on our little mountain," said Theresa Johnson Fisher House Manager.  "We service 52 percent of the Earth's surface so pretty much anybody in the Pacific who needs treatment whether they are VA, active duty, family members of, they all come to Tripler so we could have plenty of rooms and not have enough space."

Each house costs $100,000 a year to maintain.  They're run primarily on donations, which can be tough. Ideally, they want to build another house to help more veterans like Rose Marie.

"Fisher House is a man made heaven," said Mesa.

Fisher House manager Theresa Johnson says talks are underway with the Army to get approval for another house.

"There's a lot of challenges but the talk is there so we hope in the near future we'll see one," said Johnson.

For more information or to donate to the cause click here:   Http://www.orgsites.com/hi/triplerfisherhouses/

 

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