Newest Fisher House to Serve Southern California Veterans, Families

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2009 - It was pouring liquid sunshine as the Fisher House Foundation and the Veterans Affairs Department prepared to dedicate the 43rd Fisher House in Brentwood, Calif., on Feb. 6, but the significance of the event wasn't lost on Mother Nature.

"The clouds broke, and we actually had sunshine for about an hour and a half [during] the ceremony and reception," Jim Weiskopf, Fisher House Foundations executive vice president of communications, said. "Then it started to rain again."

Wounded Marines from Camp Pendleton joined in the festivities, with one leading the Pledge of Allegiance and another helping to cut the ribbon.

Families who will be living in the newest Fisher House also were on hand to dedicate the 16,800 square-foot building, which provides military families a "home away from home" while their loved ones recover from injuries or illnesses. While there are a few other Fisher Houses of comparable size, this is becoming a standard, Weiskopf said.

Located on the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System campus on the edge of Beverly Hills and Hollywood, the California-Spanish style "comfort home," includes 21 suites, each with a private, handicapped-accessible bathroom. The two-story, elevator-equipped house features communal spaces such as a family room, a multi-cooking station kitchen, a large dining room and shared laundry facilities.

The foundation has made a solemn commitment to keep faith with those who have served the country, Ken Fisher, Fisher House Foundation chairman, said in a news release. It's is a responsibility the foundation accepts gladly, he added.

The community gladly accepted the responsibility as well. Each community where Fisher House builds is asked to raise about half the funds needed to complete the process, Weiskopf said. In Los Angeles, he added, the community did a remarkable job.

"The American Legion Pacific Palisades Post 283 ... donated $2.125 million to us," he said. After placing a call to the American Legion's Indianapolis headquarters, Weiskopf learned that was the largest single donation ever made by an American Legion post.

The Los Angeles Fisher House is the only one that will open this year; about eight more are nearly ready to be started.

"We are going to start a whole bunch more projects, but since we're not 'in the ground' yet, and they take almost 14 months to build, nothing will open up in calendar year 2009," Weiskopf said. "We'll have lots to open up in 2010."

*Related Sites:*
Fisher House Foundation  [ ]
Department of Veterans Affairs  [ ]
Newest Fisher House to Serve Southern California Veterans, Families [ ]