Skip to Content

VA Portland Fisher House Celebrates 8th Anniversary

Angled shot of VA Portland Fisher House exterior, taken in the afternoon sun.
VA Portland's Fisher House, located on the Vancouver VA campus in southwest Washington State.

What started as a haunting question by Navy Admiral Carlisle Trost’s wife in the 1970s, turned into an idea that would eventually serve over a half-million families, and endures as lasting legacy to care and support of the nation’s uniformed service members.

The seemingly offhand question by Pauline Trost, as she watched the family of an injured service member disembark a helicopter at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, would make its way to Zachary Fisher, who would put Pauline’s question to task.

Over the years, Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher dedicated more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel to stay free of charge in support of their loved ones.

James Dorce, Program Manager for the VA Portland Fisher House, shares that many family members travel hundreds of miles, and extended hotel costs may cause a financial burden while they help care for their loved ones.

“Many families share with us how important this program has been for them during their times of need,” Dorce says.

As the VA Portland Fisher House celebrates its 8th Anniversary in May 2024, Dorce reflects on the last 10 months that he has overseen the VA Portland Fisher House--as of March 2024, he and his staff have hosted 5,641 guests. Many express their stay has had a long-lasting impact on them and their families. 

“Many guests comment about the love and care they receive from the Fisher House staff,” Dorce says. “They tell us it has been a life-changing experience.”

Indeed, guests comment about how VA Portland Fisher House staff go out of their way to accommodate visitors—by familiarizing them with the local area, pointing out activities on and off the VA campus, and helping them with locating special dietary and preferred options.

Located on the southeast side of the Vancouver Division of the VA Portland Health Care System, the VA Portland Fisher House is a fully accessible, 13,500-square-foot home with 16 private guest suites. The common areas and guest rooms are professionally designed and beautifully furnished.

"At their peak occupancy, the VA Portland Fisher House entertained 44 guests at one time," Dorce explained.

Opened for guests on March 23, 2016, the VA Portland Fisher House is part of an ever-expanding network of 97 VA Fisher House locations throughout various military installations and VA medical centers across the nation, with two more under construction.

The Fisher House lodging program is unique because it allows the family and a support network to be within close proximity to Veterans that are in need of critical medical care, which has a positive impact on the overall healing process.

“The VA Portland Fisher House provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care,” Dorce says. “We allow families to be close to their loved one during a medical crisis and to focus on what’s important—the healing process.”

As the VA Portland’s Fisher House celebrated its 8th anniversary in May, Dorce and his staff reflect on the important role they play in the lives of family members staying with them.

Dorce recalls one mother who said they didn’t know how they would have afforded a hotel stay—which amounted to 45 days, while their loved one recuperated.

In the case of hospice care, it gives loved ones a rare gift; time.

"During hospice care, when the time spent is more crucial for the Veteran and their family and friends, being just steps way gives the gift of time spent with their loved ones," Dorce adds.

Overall, the program has saved military and Veterans’ families an estimated $610 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation, according to Veterans Administration statistics.

The Fisher House Foundation builds and furnishes residential properties and generously donates the house to the VA as a gift. The VA operates and maintains the house. Fisher House Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses, and children of fallen and disabled Veterans.

For Dorce, the experience of managing VA Portland’s Fisher House has been both rewarding and humbling.

“I have witnessed the strength of the Veterans and their families,” he says. “This experience has allowed me to be a part of something bigger and meaningful, at the same time knowing how this program has benefitted and will continue to benefit the families of our Veterans.”

“It is a humbling experience to be working at the Fisher House,” Dorce added.


To find out more about the history of the Fisher House, visit

To learn more about the Fisher House Foundation, go to