KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Fisher House Foundation donated it’s 92nd home to the Kansas City VA Medical Center and on Tuesday, opened its doors to the public.
For nearly 30 years, the family-run Fisher Foundation has provided homes away from home for the families of veterans and active service members undergoing treatment.
A Vietnam era veteran, who is also the recipient of a Purple Heart, and his spouse, are the first family to stay at the 92nd Fisher House, which is just a stone’s throw down the driveway from the VA Medical Center on Linwood Boulevard.
Prior to being offered the stay at Fisher House’s newest home, the spouse of the veteran expressed that if not for this resource, she had no idea how she was going to be there for her family.
Fisher House program manager Michael Unden, called the donation a win-win.
"It's really just such an amazing and unique partnership between the federal government and the private sector coming together to be able to help our veterans families and our active duty family members," Unden said.
The 13,500 square-foot home can house as many as 16 families at one time and be at the bedside of their loved one, free of charge, as they undergo medical treatment at the Kansas City VA Medical Center.
"That emotional support so that every part of that veteran is being cared for,” Unden added, calling it a home away from home for those who answered a call to serve.
Unden spoke about the impact the Fisher House has on families.
"Before the Fisher House here, families would have to, it would be on them to pay for hotels, or even stay in their car, or make trips back-and-forth to be able to be with their families and this allows them to be here free of charge and close to the bedside of their loved one,” Unden said.
It's a gift that saves service member families an estimated $500 million a year on out-of-pocket travel and lodging expenses, according to the Fisher House Foundation.
Prior to the Kansas City location, the nearest Fisher House was in Saint Louis.
What you sometimes hear from veterans is they often don’t know services are available to them, and by the time they do, it can be too late.
To prevent that from happening in this case, part of the roll-out in the Kansas City Fisher House included educating local medical facilities and treatment care teams with the VA Medical Center about the home, this way the responsibility does not fall on the veteran or service member during an already difficult time.
"Our goal is to educate everyone in the greater Kansas City area,” Unden said.
The Fisher Foundation’s remaining 91 comfort homes are scattered throughout the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Hospitalizations can take weeks, if not months, and there is no length of stay requirement at Fisher House.