By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMIAMI) — There are a number of services available to support the men and women who have served our country.

One special resource in Miami is the Fisher House.

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It is their mission to keep families together when veterans need help and support the most.

“He’s taught me a bunch of stuff. Being in the Navy, he taught me how to protect myself, for one!”

Marina Becker is talking about her stepfather, Theodore Becker.

Sitting on the back porch of the Fisher House, she talks about how he served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. From Connecticut originally, he met her mother on a trip to Brazil

“That’s how I learned English was from him. He brought me here,” she says. “I was around seven or eight. He always did his best to take care of me and my brother.”

The now 19-year-old says these last six months have been especially difficult on her whole family, as her stepfather is receiving treatment at the Miami VA Hospital for prostate cancer

“I always try to be positive, but sometimes it gets really hard,” she says through her face mask, a level of protection from COVID so she can continue her daily hospital visits. “It’s tough what’s going on right now.”

The Fisher House stepped in to help ease the burden.

They provide free lodging to the families of veterans while they are in the hospital.

“The VA strongly believes in having veteran families and caregivers involved in their care,” explains Richie Sanchez, manager of the Fisher House.

After having reduced occupancy due to COVID, he says they have now been able to increase the number of families they accommodate and help more people.

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“Being a veteran myself, it just provides me an opportunity to give back,” Sanchez says, as someone who also served in the Navy. “I had my care here at the Miami VA as well, so I understand a lot of what our veterans and their family members are going through.”

These veterans are in the hospital to improve their physical wellbeing, but an effect of the Fisher House is how it boosts their mental wellbeing by keeping their loved ones close by.

That applies, not just to the patient, but to the families too.

“These families have two things in common,” explains Ken Fisher, CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. “One, they have a loved one requiring hospitalization. Two, they have no idea where they are going to stay or how they’re going to afford it. When they get together, they quickly find out they’re not alone. That helps them in ways we can’t even quantify.”

These veterans have already been away from family through the sacrifice of service. A place like the Fisher House allows them to stay together when they need it most.

Since opening in Miami in 2010 Sanchez says they have been able to assist more than 9,000 families.

To qualify, families have to reside 50 miles or more from the Miami VA Hospital.

For more information on the Fisher House, go here.

There are several additional resources:

Miami-Dade Veteran Services

Broward Veteran Services

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Florida Department of Veterans

Karli Barnett