12:09pm

Fri December 7, 2012
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A Murfreesboro "Home Away from Home" for Tennessee Vets

Andrea Lawrence (L) President of Tennessee Fisher House and TFH Board Member Colonel (Retired) Thomas Vaughn (R) stand in front of Tennessee's first Fisher House under construction on the grounds of the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in December, 2012.
Andrea Lawrence (L) President of Tennessee Fisher House and TFH Board Member Colonel (Retired) Thomas Vaughn (R) stand in front of Tennessee's first Fisher House under construction on the grounds of the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in December, 2012.
Credit WMOT

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  As the nation marks the 71st anniversary of Japan’s December 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, construction is getting underway in Middle Tennessee for a “home away from home” for Tennessee veterans.

The Tennessee affiliate of the Fisher House Foundation is building a home on the grounds of the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro. Once completed, the Fisher House will provide lodging for up to 12 veterans under treatment at the hospital and their families.

Colonel Thomas Vaughn is a Vietnam vet and a board member with the Tennessee chapter of the Fisher House.

“The best analogy that I can think of is to compare it to the Ronald McDonald House in terms of being a home away from home, but with two important differences. The first one is that this is for military families, and the second is that they don’t charge anything.”

Colonel Vaughn notes that while the medical care veterans receive at VA facilities is free, vets and their family’s often face other expenses they can’t afford.

“Sometimes the families have to fend for themselves and it’s a long way from Bristol, Tennessee to Murfreesboro and Nashville; it’s a long way from Memphis, Tennessee to Murfreesboro and Nashville.”

Fisher House Tennessee President Andrea Lawrence says she’s heard stories of vets sleeping in their cars while in town for treatment. She says that won’t happen once the house is complete.

“I’ve known two ladies who were in the Tampa area stayed in the Fisher House there for two years. Both their husbands happened to have brain injuries in combat. They were both going through numerous surgeries.”

Lawrence notes that the demand for veterans services will only grow in the years to come.

“These veterans who are coming home now with the brain injuries and the lost limbs, these are young people; 18, 20, 21, 22 years-old for the most part. They are going to need care for a long time.”

Lawrence says that, even after the Fisher House is completed, veterans will still need assistance with fuel cards, clothing, toiletries and other necessities. To learn more you can visit tennesseefisherhosue.org.