TAMPA, Fla (Fox 13) - For injured veterans, perhaps the best medicine is their family's love. Now more families have the chance to be the perfect medicine at Tampa's James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital.
In February, Haley opened its second Fisher House on campus. Think of it as a home away from home for the families of patients undergoing treatment at the hospital. The new Fisher House offers 16 private suites, a kitchen and living room within walking distance of the hospital.
"I always like to compare it to a sorority house without all the drama because everyone gets along," said Keri Shimer who was on her fourth stay at the original Fisher House at Haley.
Shimer's husband, Army veteran Luke Shimer, was struck by lightning at their home in St. Augustine in 2016. He suffered an anoxic brain injury, which means his brain was deprived of oxygen. His progress so far has been remarkable and Keri Shimer knows being with him at the hospital can only help.
"We've seen so many patients who have loved ones there and patients who don't have loved ones there," said Shimer. "The ones who have someone with them helping them through are the ones who do better."
Shimer and all of the other families stay at the Fisher House for free, saving them money not only on hotels but also transportation to and from the hospital.
"This is the most important thing I think about the Foundation is that we remove the financial burden," said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. "But the military family and the plight of the military family is now in the light where it should have been all along."
Craig and Annie Remsburg have been in several Fisher Houses, including one in Tampa, since their son Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg was hit by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009. What they're struck most by about Fisher Houses are the friends and connections they have made.
"You console each other, you give each other advice," says Annie Remsburg. "You hug when you need to and you cry when you need to. That's what the Fisher House did for our family."
The Fisher House Foundation says since it started, the program has saved military and veterans families more than $450 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation.