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Laughlin, Del Rio leaders tour BAMC facilities
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Kathleen Rasmussen, of the Center for the Intrepid at San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center, conducts a tour of the CIF for a group of civic leaders from Del Rio as well as members of Laughlin’s leadership April 11. The group also visited the Fisher House and the Warrior and Family Support Center while at BAMC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Blake Mize)
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Laughlin, Del Rio leaders tour BAMC facilities

Posted 4/12/2011   Updated 4/12/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Blake Mize
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

4/12/2011 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A group of civic leaders from Del Rio joined Col. Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Ray DeVite, 47th FTW command chief, and several other Laughlin members for a trip to San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center April 11.

While at BAMC, the group toured three facilities whose purpose is to support wounded military members and their families in their ultimate time of need. The Center for the Intrepid, an Army Fisher House and the Warrior and Family Support Center were all visited.

"We just wanted to give our local community leaders a stronger understanding of the military and the sacrifices that some members must make in order to protect our way of life," said Colonel Frankel. "I think we accomplished that with this trip."

The Center for the Intrepid is a 65,000 square-foot facility that includes a gait lab, a computer-assisted rehabilitation environment, a pool, a surfing simulator, an indoor running track, a two-story climbing wall and a prosthetic fabrication lab among many other things. Their services are aimed at achieving the world-class rehabilitation of military members who experience severe extremity injuries and amputations.

One patient who spoke to the group said the CFI was absolutely instrumental in his recovery after an Osprey accident in Afghanistan left him severely wounded almost a year ago. He said in the short time he has been at the CFI, he has gone from being bound to a wheel chair to walking normally in a much shorter time frame than he ever thought possible.

The next stop on the tour was the Fisher House. Zachary Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, started the first Fisher House in 1990 with a goal to serve the families of military members who are severely injured and being treated at a nearby medical facility.

Families are able to stay within walking distance of their loved one at one of the 46 worldwide Fisher Houses at a rate that is much lower than other base lodging facilities and drastically lower than off-base hotels. The houses have a very home-like feel and are very nice and well-kept.

Zachary Fisher passed away in 1999, but his nephew, Arthur Fisher, who also founded the CFI, and grand-nephew Ken Fisher continue to build Fisher Houses around the world.

Finally, the group toured the Warrior and Family Support Center, which is basically an activity hub for wounded military members at BAMC. Seemingly no stone was unturned during the development of the WFSC. Any imaginable activity is available to warriors and their families either on site or through donated tickets.

A theater room with around 15 swiveling rocking chairs that can be adjusted to view any one of four massive televisions or an even larger projection screen is just one example of the countless amenities available in the 12,500 square-foot facility that was built entirely with donated funds and opened in December of 2008.

The WFSC schedules more than 48 activities every month with opportunities to attend sporting events, movie night, plays at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, concerts, shopping trips, luncheons and dinners, bingo, fishing trips and more. All events and trips are free of charge.

"For me, it was a profound experience," said Larry Mariner, president of Forum Broadcasting in Del Rio. "I believe most of us knew how privileged we were to have been able to spend a day in that environment."

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