Commentary: Today, officials from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Fisher House Foundation, and other stakeholders agreed on final plans to build a Fisher House on the campus of the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, NM. The agreement provides the framework for construction to proceed on the proposed facility that will house the families of military personnel and veterans while their loved ones are receiving medical care.
The agencies and the foundation reached the agreement at the urging of the US Representative Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) and New Mexico House Republican Caucus. After it appeared that questions regarding the facility’s compliance with historic preservation standards might derail the project, Pearce and the state representatives reached out to both state and federal officials pressing them to resolve the obstacles blocking construction.
“In rural states, like New Mexico, it is challenging both emotionally and financially to be constantly traveling back and forth while your loved one receives medical care,” said Pearce. “The Fisher House Foundation does an excellent job of easing these burdens by providing the families of injured service members or veterans safe and free housing near their loved ones. As a community, we must honor the commitments we’ve made to the men and women who bravely stepped up to serve our nation.”
“The Raymond G. Murphy Medical Center treats patients from across the entire state of New Mexico,” said House Republican Leader Nate Gentry (R-Albuquerque). “Providing a place for them and their families to stay while they are receiving medical care is the least we can do to honor their sacrifice to our country.”
“When progress on this needed facility had stalled yet again, we raised our concerns with the government agencies involved and urged them to find a solution,” said Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Truth or Consequences). “I am glad that the VA Department and the State Historic Preservation Office responded promptly to our inquiries so we can finally move forward with construction.”
“Veterans and their families have been patiently waiting for this facility that was promised to them years ago,” said Rep. David Adkins (R-Albuquerque). “Further bureaucratic delays were unacceptable. We must proceed with this project for the benefit of veterans, our military, and their families.”
Since 1994 the Fisher House Foundation has built 72 “homes away from home” for military personnel, veterans, and their families. These houses provide free accommodations for families while their loved ones undergo medical treatment at a VA medical center or military base. Once built, the Foundation donates the completed building to a federal host agency.
The Foundation estimates that more than 300,000 families have used these facilities, saving them an estimated $360 million in lodging and transportation costs in total. Currently, twenty-five locations are on the Foundation’s wait list.
So far, the Fisher Foundation has budgeted $6 million for the New Mexico facility. Several local groups have worked to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the effort. The City of Albuquerque has pledged $14,000 to the project, and the Friends of the New Mexico Fisher House have raised nearly $200,000 to fund construction.