Vietnam veteran and wife reflect on 11 years of Fisher House

Harry, an Army Vietnam veteran, and his wife Karen have seen a lot of life together. They married 40 years ago and now have fought through disease and illness while staying at the West Palm Beach VA Fisher House off and on for 11 years. Most recently, they fought a battle with Harry’s cancer and came out on top.

“When he was going through treatment, that would've been unbelievable if we hadn't had the Fisher House,” Karen Richardson said. “We couldn't have afforded to stay in a hotel, and driving back and forth would've been so taxing on both of us every day.”

Harry Richardson, an Army Vietnam Veteran, and his wife Karen have seen a lot of life together in 40 years of marriage. They’ve visited the West Palm Beach VA Fisher House off and on for the last 11 years. Most recently, they beat Harry’s cancer together and are looking forward to many more years together.

“The Fisher House is just truly a blessing,” Karen said.

Harry experienced Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, and he’d heard for years about how it affected other veterans. When Harry was diagnosed with cancer, Karen knew she wanted to be by his side for treatment.

“We've been married 40 years, and as a spouse, I want to be here for my husband and always will be.

With the long commute from their home to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, the Fisher House has saved them a lot of time and money.

“The drive is an hour and a half,” Harry said. “Having the Fisher House has saved us money on gas, on wear and tear on our cars. That's probably saved us thousands of dollars in vehicles, including tires. It saved us so much. And plus our time spent. I mean that gives us more time together and more time with our family there in Lewiston.”

“Our daughter and our grandchildren, they've actually been able to come over here and visit without us coming back and forth, back and forth all the time,” Karen said. “They actually came over here and we had Thanksgiving here this year, which was great. One of the friends of the Fisher House provided Thanksgiving dinner for everyone here this year.My daughter actually wrote on Facebook. She said Thanksgiving looked a little different for us this year. And she said she got to meet the people that make my parents' home away from home special. And she's right. The people here, the different families, and there were other people here and the people staying here, you may only meet them for a day or two, but they're going through a lot too. And it was just real special for everyone, especially some of the wives that were alone. And it really, it touched everybody that somebody was willing to go the extra mile to bring dinner to these families.”

Karen has a background in psychology and therapy. And so she reached out to other families at the house, including ones with small children and others who went through loss at the Fisher House.

“Obviously staying at the Fisher House for over 11 years,” she said, “We've seen a lot of different situations. Loved ones, women losing their spouse, little ones needing care, just anything and everything you can imagine of diseases and illnesses of different types of care and different levels.”

“It is just a lot of camaraderie here. Being at the Fisher House is like being with family,” she said. “Everybody sits in the dining room and talks or we sit out here and talk. You find something common with everybody we meet, but it's always been that way here.”

“They're like family to us. They're like our family and we just love them.”

time, money, and stress... what do you think of adding in something about taking away stress.. or making a life-threatening diagnoses less stressful.. sorry I could be just speaking from my own experiences right now.