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Fisher House helping veterans year-round

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 06:52:07-04

DOVER, Del. -- While we celebrate our freedom on Independence Day, it's also a day to reflect on those who have fought for our freedom.  And one organization going the distance to help Gold Star families in their time of need, year round.

It's something no military family ever wants to see: their soldier's final journey home.  Something Craig and Terri Gross had to face back in 2011.

"He was my fishing buddy, my golfing buddy, guitar buddy, my artist buddy," says Craig.

Army Corporal Frank Gross, Craig and Terri's only son, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.  His family making the sudden 1,000-mile trip from Tampa to Dover Air Force Base to accept his body in person.

"That was such a dark time of our life," says Teri.

And although it was one of their lowest lows, there was support -- thanks to the Fisher House and the organization behind it.

"We believe in the power of family. We believe in, obviously, bringing the plight of the military family to light,” says Ken Fisher.

Nationwide, Fisher House helps military families around the country whose loved ones are in the hospital -- in all, more than 300,000 families since 1990. 

But the house at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware was built specifically for families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice.

"That, I think, was the most important Fisher House that we've ever built," says Ken Fisher.

The house is run by members of the Air Force, including the house manager, Technical Sergeant Dorothy Whitfield.  “This house is kind of like their safe haven while they are here at Dover for their short stay."

The house has a fully stocked kitchen, multiple bedrooms and a living room full of toys to make the family's hardest day somewhat easier.

"If they're sad and they want to cry, and they want to hug, we're right there with them and we'll cry with them," says Whitfield.

Years later, it's still making an impact.  After Frank's death, Teri began volunteering for Fisher House.  "I just knew that I needed to give back and encourage others. I also knew that by giving back my spirit would be lifted."

It's a sense of service shared by the CEO and his employees.  "I didn't serve in the military, I didn't wear the uniform. And so, for me this is some small way of serving, my way of giving back," says Fisher.