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LANDSTUHL, Germany — More than 25,000 U.S. Army soldiers from Europe are deployed in Iraq.

Yet the annual contribution from their chapels to the Fisher House at Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center still went up this year.

The chapels collected $68,568.54 during the first two weeks in July for Fisher House, where people can stay free of charge while their family members are being treated at Landstuhl.

Chaplain (Col.) Ronald Strong of the Installation Management Agency-Europe and Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth J. Leinwand of U.S. Army Europe will present the check to Fisher House officials Thursday at Landstuhl.

“[The Fisher House mission] is congruent with the religious teachings of many different faith groups,” said Leinwand, a rabbi who conducts services out of the chapel at Mark Twain Village in Heidelberg, noting that persons of many faiths pitched in.

Previous checks from the chapels were for $61,112.75 given in 2002 and $46,162.90 in 2001.

“The money will be used for running costs of the house,” said Kathy Gregory, manager of the Landstuhl Fisher House. “We pay the hospital for housekeeping and yard work. We pay for maintaining the house and its operating costs.”

The Landstuhl Fisher House is actually two houses. Both of the big, two-story houses are located next to the hospital. They have 19 rooms with bathrooms and can accommodate up to 40 guests at a time. The families staying at Fisher House share the kitchens, living rooms and other facilities.

The families stay at Fisher House instead of a hotel when their loved ones — such as wounded soldiers, babies in need of critical care, cancer patients and others — are being treated at Landstuhl.

Gregory said it costs $186,000 per year to run the two houses, meaning the churches’ contribution makes up 37 percent of the budget.

The rest of the money, Gregory said, is donated by wives’ clubs, individuals, service organizations and others.

There are 30 Fisher House facilities stateside located near military hospitals and Veterans Administration centers. Landstuhl’s Fisher House is the only one outside the United States.

The Fisher House program was started in 1990. The first of Landstuhl’s Fisher Houses opened in January 2001; the second opened in December.

For more information

Phone: DSN 486-6630 or civilian +49-6371-866-630Donations: Mail to Landstuhl Fisher House, CMR 402 Box 669, APO AE 09180. Donations of food and services also can be made.— Stars and Stripes

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