Fisher House helps injured vets heal with family

- A family's love is great medicine for hospital patients and the Fisher House helps the healing process by giving family members a place to stay while their loved one heals. 

Iraq war veteran, Joel Evans suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was in a motorcycle crash in Las Vegas.

"His left side was paralyzed after the accident. He couldn't move at all," his mom, Joan Evans explained. "He lacerated his liver. He has a big scar going down his forehead." 

The VA flew Joel to Tampa for care at the Haley Medical Center's Special Traumatic Brain Injury Center.

"Basically, they didn't give us much hope for his recovery," Joan said.

His family came with him and needed a place to stay. They discovered the Fisher House - a home-away-from-home for military veterans and their families.

Paula Welenc is Fisher House's the manager.

"It's meant to be - and our goal is for it to be - a comforting place for families to be, at a really stressful, really difficult time in their lives," Welenc said.

It's free to stay at Fisher House. The Evans' have stayed for two months and said they were so thankful.

"There's no way that we could be here with our son through this whole recovery if it wasn't for Fisher House," Joan said.

"We can visit our son in the middle of the night if we want to," Joel's father, Jim Evans said. "We can be with him any part of the day if we want to and we are right here on the ground."

Paula said, "families share the house together and that facilitate's them sharing their stories together." 

The Fisher House was built in 1997 and has 20 suites and has a kitchen and laundry facilities. More than 800 families stayed there last year.

To get more information about the Fisher House, call (813) 972-2000, ext. 3000.

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