News: Army Reserve's 654th RSG gives back to community
Story by Capt. Christopher Larsen
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The 654th Regional Support Group, a U.S. Army Reserve unit in Tacoma, Wash., held its dining out recently. And instead of the traditional grog bowl, the unit’s soldiers decided to do something to give back to the community, specifically to JBLM’s Fisher House.
On Friday, March 8, three soldiers from the 654th RSG presented the Fisher House with a check for $654, money raised from infractions during the dining out.
“It’s something our commander [Col. David Ling] recommended,” said Master Sgt. Brenda Araiza, the 654th RSG’s human resources noncommissioned officer in charge.
Araiza said soldiers who were found ‘guilty’ of uniform, protocol, or other infractions would go to the donation bowl and chip in an amount of change.
“It was much better than having an alcohol-filled grog bowl,” she said. “Soldiers had to salute four times and put money in the bowl.”
Jodi Land, manager of JBLM’s Fisher House, said she was grateful for the donation.
“We’ve had soldiers from the 654th RSG use the house,” she said. “We don’t like that people have to use our facilities, but we’re so glad that people do.”
The Fisher House program started in 1990, founded by Zachary Fisher, a New York construction and real estate executive. A lifelong supporter of the military, Fisher was ironically unable to serve in World War II due to a leg injury.
Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth Fisher, dedicated more than $20 million to the cause of building houses on military installations for the families of service members who were undergoing medical treatment.
“We’ve been here [at JBLM] since 1992,” said Land, who has been with the installation’s Fisher House for 12 years, “and we’re getting ready to break ground on a new house in June.”
Land said JBLM’s new Fisher House will be located next to Madigan Army Medical Center, and will be the newest property in the system, which has 58 houses located around the world.
There’s no cost to service members to use Fisher House facilities, and they’re open to any service member or family, of any branch.
“We’re open to all services, to veterans, retirees, Department of Defense civilians,” Land said. “Even though we’re on Army property, we’re very ‘purple’.”
Fisher Houses offer service members and their families a home away from home during difficult times, Land said.
JBLM’s current house can support seven families at once, Land said.
“But if we’re full, we’ll find space at a local hotel, and put them up there until there’s room here,” she added. “We’ve been 100 percent full for the last ten years.”
Land added that contributions are an important source of funding and items for Fisher House. The facility maintains a long wish list of items, which can be found at www.fisherhouse-jblm.org.
Araiza said that’s one of the reasons the 654th RSG made its donation to Fisher House.
“We wanted to stay local, and keep it in the community,” she said.