Leadership

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Arnold Fisher, senior partner of a large New York City family business and philanthropist, wanted to know why the U.S. government didn’t do more to help veterans. Instead of waiting – he stepped in. Today, he is a legend in supporting our American military and veterans. The entire Fisher family has made it their mission to fill the void left by government through the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Fisher House Foundation.

“If we can't do this, we are not a decent people,” Fisher said.

Fisher works for the greater good. “The money raised comes from the American people; the government is not part of this”.

The Fisher family’s military philanthropy began in 1990. “My uncle Zachary started this years ago. He was inspired after visiting a hospital …. When they came out in the evening, there was a car, the windows were fogged up and a sailor was sleeping inside because his wife was in the hospital and he didn’t have the money to get a hotel room for the night.

“Zach said that would never happen again. He started Fisher House,” said Arnold Fisher.

“This is our mission,” Fisher said. “We've been successful in this country. … it's given us a lot, … it’s time to give back.” The Fisher House Foundation provides a network of comfort homes to families of veterans where they can stay free of charge while their loved one undergoes treatment.

In 2000, Fisher started the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to provide financial and medical support to our military. In 2007, the Fund constructed the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, to provide physical rehabilitation to soldiers with catastrophic wounds. In 2010, he spearheaded construction of a center for the research, diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and related psychological afflictions (PTSD). The National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) opened adjacent to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. With the success of treatment, the demand grew and in 2012 the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund embarked on a $100 million project to build 9 satellites to the NICoE, called Intrepid Spirit Centers, on major military bases nationwide.

Since 2013, $67 million of the needed $100 million has been raised, five Intrepid Spirit Centers opened and one is fully funded and under construction; three more are planned. An additional $34 million is needed to complete all 9-centers.

“It's a difficult wound, it's the unseen wound. When you are wounded in the arm or leg, even if you lose an arm or leg, we can see that, so we know it needs to be fixed, but this is something terrible that you suffer with – it’s a wound no one can see,” Fisher said.

The Fishers are well known for their patriotic brand of philanthropy. In the late 1970s Larry and Zachary Fisher saved the Word War II-vintage aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, from the scrap yards and anchored it off Manhattan's West Side as a military museum called the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

During the government shutdown in October, the family pledged to cover the death benefits for the 29 families who were affected while military benefits were threatened. Congress acted before Fishers had to do this. Still, they sent a $25,000 check to each family.

Mr. Fisher served as Chairman of the Board of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, Honorary Chair of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and Chair of the Fisher House Foundation. He also leads the Fisher Brothers Annual Scholarship Fund for military children. His many awards include: 2008 Presidential Citizens Medal from the White House; 2007 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Honoree; the Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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