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WASHINGTON — The Fisher House Foundation hopes to build at least five houses a year for the next four years, to help meet the growing needs of injured troops and their families.

The foundation, established in 1990, provides free short-term housing to families tending to recovering military or veteran patients

Officials are already building four comfort houses this year, and have unveiled plans for at least two more in 2008. To date, the group has built 35 Fisher Houses, and two more are under construction.

But Jim Weiskopf, spokesman for the foundation, said military and VA hospitals around the country have told foundation officials that they could easily support more of the facilities, because of the demands recovery and rehabilitation place on military families.

“If we can get the funding, building five a year will get us closer to meeting that need,” he said. “Even when the war in Iraq is finished, there will still be veterans and families who need these houses.”

Each home costs about $4 million to build and furnish, and the affiliated hospitals agree to handle all maintenance costs.

Citing Defense Department news releases, iCasualties.org, a Web site that tracks war fatalities and injuries, more than 22,000 servicemembers have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, though many are soon returned to duty.

Weiskopf said the foundation has identified several potential funding sources, and officials are already scouting locations where the new houses could benefit the greatest number of families. Houses are already located in 15 states, as well as in Washington and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

This year, VA medical centers in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Seattle are scheduled to break ground on new homes, and the San Diego Naval Medical Center is scheduled to get its second Fisher House as well.

For more information on the Fisher House Foundation, visit www.fisherhouse.org


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