August 08, 2008

Name: Paul McCollom
Posting date: 8/8/08
Returned from: Vietnam
Daughter returned from: Iraq

I'm a Vietnam Vet (Army, Medic,'69-'70) and have been reading Sandbox posts for almost two years now. The Sandbox became extremely important to me in 2007 when my daughter, a Marine officer, deployed to Iraq as a Platoon Leader/Convoy Commander.


I read each and every post trying to get a sense of what was really happening over there and, even as an old Vet, I recognize many of the sentiments and the frustrations expressed in the posts.

As a parent, having your child deployed to a combat zone is a nightmare. If you’re a Vet it’s even worse because you don't really have to imagine the bad shit that can happen, you just remember. And as a parent you have a need to “DO” something. For me it had to be something beyond the politics of the war (I don’t even want to go there) and it had to be something solid and significant that would actually support those on the ground and paying the price (more than putting a "Support Our Troops" ribbon on my car or forwarding all those emails with eagles and flags and patriotic songs).

And then I discovered Team Fisher House -- 200 individuals from across the country who raise money for the Fisher House Foundation by running the Marine Corps Marathon; I signed up immediately and it has become my passion. No one is safe from my Fisher House “pitch”, and I speak to organizations and businesses across Michigan (VFW, Marine Corps League, Rotary Clubs, ROTC, etc, etc).

I would guess that most of those who post on the Sandbox know what a Fisher House is, and more than a few of you have had to take advantage of the good work that they do. But for those that don't know, a Fisher House is like a Ronald McDonald house for the families of wounded and injured service men and women. The Fisher House Foundation recognizes the sacrifices of our wounded service members and their families and provides a sanctuary where they can be together during treatment for serious injury or physical therapy. They build, furnish and equip multi-bedroom houses where military families in similar circumstances can stay, free of charge, and provide support and encouragement to each other.


So far, 38 Fisher Houses have been constructed across the country and since 1990 they have saved veterans' families an estimated $100 million in housing expenses. Right now they can take care of about 12,000 families a year, saving them $10 million, but the need is greater than that and eight more house are being constructed this year, with more planned for 2009 and beyond.

Most of us can’t imagine not being able to go and visit a loved one who is in the hospital, but that is the situation faced by the families of many our wounded and injured troops. They more than likely live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the treatment center and even staying at a crappy motel for any length of time eats up scarce cash, especially for the family of a sergeant or PFC. A Michigan Marine Mom was able to stay with her seriously wounded son, at no cost to her, as he underwent more than a year of recovery at different hospitals around the country. In a newspaper article she stated, "I would have never been able to support my son without Fisher House and I will be indebted to them for the rest of my life."

In 2007 I raised $4,100 and Team Fisher House raised more than $280,000. While there are charities out there that pay a runner's expenses if they raise a certain amount of money, Fisher House does not reimburse us in any way; so all contributions go directly to Fisher House.

I will be 60 this year and am not really built for running; my abs are well hidden and my thighs are just made for chafing. While I have completed a couple other marathons I can’t honestly say I have run one; the last three or four miles are always agony and real runners have nothing to fear from me. I run, I trot, I walk, I dance a little, I work the crowd, and I hope to finish before dark. But what I don’t bring to this party in athleticism I do bring in an absolute refusal to quit, as well as a willingness to make a spectacle of myself if front of complete strangers in order to bring a little more money to Fisher House. This is how ugly it got after the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon:


The bottom line is that my daughter is leaving for her second Iraq deployment in August and I am again running the Marine Corps Marathon (October 26th in Washington DC) for Fisher House. My personal goal is $10,000 and the team goal is $500,000. She is my inspiration, and a part me feels that this is my good luck charm and as long as I keep doing it I will never have to see the inside of a Fisher House.

I hope that I have gotten your attention and that you will support this incredible organization that directly supports those who have truly sacrificed.  If so then please go to this website and make a contribution.

If you're really feeling supportive then please pass word along to others who might be interested in donating as well.

Thanks for Truly Supporting Our Troops.


It's great and good to support the human beings who have volunteered to enlist.

Moreover helping people is self-fullfilling and gives meaning to one's life.

Nevertheless my opinion is that every human life is worth being supported.

Which is why I wouldn't choose to support only the troops, but rather to support education, information, enlightenment, for each and every human being.

When all human beings will have realized the irrationality of killing and maiming one another with the most technologically expensive weapons, stupid greedy politicians will try to start wars and will be snorted at with derision and contempt.

And in a pacific world, you won't need to worry for your children being sent abroad to fight unknown foreigners whom they could have had a beer with had they met them in the local bar.

Then you might run for colleges to be free so that everyone can get a good and well-paid job, because poverty and ignorance are the most efficient means of the current economic draft.

Excellent description of what it's like to be a parent of a child deployed to a combat zone.
Regardless of what we might WISH the world was like, Fisher House supports a deserving population of what the world IS like. I support the efforts of the writer & Fisher House.

yea, nam 68-69,cib,ph.since 2004 daughter md with 25th afghanistan, iraq. son navy engineer all centcom, now back in iraq.we talk and before he goes back,he tells me he just doesn't want to kill you look into your soul and see the combat holes there,you know it's wrong that your children have similar holes.feel free to keep in touch. us old vets with deployed children should stick together. bopdun

I heavily support, but I know about Fisher House and head that way too! Thanks for keeping us posted Sir!

Thanks for all the comments and support. Sandbox readers have come through with great $$ support.

To bopdun, Welcome Home! The CIB is real combat medal, I always know when I see one that the wearer is the "Real Deal". My prayers for your kids, being a parent of this special people is all about pride and fear.

To Francoise, your stated concern for everyones life rings false. It seems as though in your world we can only support what you approve of. I would say that being you must suck...
Sorry for the bluntness but you put yourself out there with your passive-aggressive post.

What a great organization to support! Not only do you support the men and women who defend our country, you also support their families. When tragedy strikes in a family, the best thing for them to do is to come together and work things out as a team, but when miles upon miles separate that one has a hard time dealing. Many people couldn't imagine being seriously injured, let alone being without their families! That would make it so hard to recover.

Thank you not only for serving our country, but also supporting your daughter's decision to serve and the other soldiers that currently defend our freedom!

What a great organization to support! Not only do you support the men and women who defend our country, you also support their families. When tragedy strikes in a family, the best thing for them to do is to come together and work things out as a team, but when miles upon miles separate that one has a hard time dealing. Many people couldn't imagine being seriously injured, let alone being without their families! That would make it so hard to recover.

Thank you not only for serving our country, but also supporting your daughter's decision to serve and the other soldiers that currently defend our freedom!

Thank you for the information about the Fisher House, what a great cause. When I was reading your blog what got my attention most was the part about wanting to do something. You really are doing something. Keep up the good work.

I could not even imagine what its like to be a parent of someone who has been deployed. I do have a friend who is in Iraq and i think the Fisher House Foundation is an amazing way to do something for the people who are giving up their time to go over to other countries and fight for us. I am very proud to here that you are doing something for them.

First off Paul your doing a great thing I hate ranning or even thinking about it so WOW Even better you have the most important reasons Your Daughter and for everyone who come back home injured doing things that they don't/might not like doing you and your daughter are my heros

francoise sit and think about what you said then go say that to Paul's daughter

I enjoyed reading your post very much. Not only was your humor unexpected, but I learned about the Fisher House and what a great cause this is. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it has to be for your child to be so far away and in such danger. My son recently turned eighteen, and we talked about whether he had a desire to serve his country. I will have to admit I would have been proud if he had made that decision; however, when he said that wasn't what he had in mind, that he wanted to continue on to college, I will confess my heart sung a quiet song of relief.

What struck me most from your post is when you talked about never having to see the inside of a Fisher House as long as you keep doing the race and raising monies for this manificent cause. I am certain that your daughter is definitely your good luck charm and pray you are right in your statement. I do a breast cancer research walk each year since my mother was diagnosed much for those same reasons: hoping I will never have to hear those words, "You have breast cancer". I think we all have to do something to feel we're making a difference, and you're definitely doing exactly that. Keep on chafing those thighs in the name of hope. Good luck and God Bless.

Deb Lyons

To Devon, Jackie, Amber, Feel Yeah, and Deb:

Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and learned something about a great cause. You and others like you are what keeps me "chafing away". I enjoy running up to 6 miles or so, 10 is not so much fun, 16 is a challenge, and 20 (by myself in training) is another universe altogether. The marathon will be great because I will be with thousands of other runners and people will actually be cheering for me so the agony will be deferred. So your thoughts will keep me going over the next month. I'll send in two more posts, one in a week or so and one after I recover.



Like your web site really a lot, not simply due to the fact that in the written content, however the view of you on the society. Thank you for sharing.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference MARINE CORPS MARATHON:

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo