$12M Fisher House opens for families of patients at Cleveland VA Medical Center

By ROBERT HIGGS | Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland | Published: June 11, 2019

CLEVELAND (Tribune News Service) — Veterans and civic and public leaders on Tuesday celebrated the opening of a guest house that will provide free lodging for families of patients in the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

The Greater Cleveland Fisher House — two buildings each with 16 guest suites — is expected to host more than 1,000 families a year. The complex, on East 105th Street in Glenville, was built at a cost of about $12 million.

Most of the money for the project was donated by the Fisher House Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit that has built nearly 80 such comfort homes around the world to aid families of U.S. service personnel and veterans.

“There’s little in this country that we can all agree on,” said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of the foundation. “If we can’t agree on one thing, and that is caring for our veterans and caring for their families, then there is something very wrong with this country.”

And he praised the Greater Cleveland community for getting behind the project. About $3.4 million was raised locally to help build the complex. The Cuyahoga County Land Bank assembled the property from 17 separate parcels to provide a location near the Stokes VA center.

“That came from the community,” Fisher said. “It’s the community that can make the difference. … We need to say to ourselves, “What can I do for my community.”

The complex will provide accommodations to military and veteran families who travel 50 or more miles to Cleveland for treatment at the nearby VA center.

Each suite has beds and private bath facilities. Each building also has a common kitchen, laundry area, dining room, living room, library and toys for children.

A courtyard area with a gazebo separates the two buildings.

About 200 people attended the formal ceremony to open the complex.

Among those in attendance were Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, representatives for Ohio’s two U.S. senators and the House delegation from northern Ohio, numerous representatives from service and philanthropic organizations and scores of veterans.

The Stokes VA center serves about 114,000 veterans a year. The addition of the Fisher House will play a huge role in their treatment, said Susan Fuehrer, director of the VA’s Northeast Ohio Healthcare System.

“What is the power of family and what is the power of love to heal?” she asked. “I don’t think you can measure it, but I’ve seen it.

“If anybody thinks for a minute that these aren’t important pieces of our care, you are absolutely wrong,” Fuehrer said.

©2019 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

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