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State representatives help get veterans' Fisher House project moving

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Agreement allows project to move forward

Veterans and their families may soon get a place to stay in Albuquerque while they wait for their loved ones to get care at the VA Medical Center.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials joined with officials from the state Historic Preservation Office, the Fisher House Foundation and state legislators Wednesday to agree on final plans to build a Fisher House on the campus of the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque.

The agreement provides the framework for construction to proceed on a 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 Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and New Mexico House Republican Caucus. Pearce and state representatives reached out to state and federal officials to resolve 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,” Pearce said. “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.”

Since 1994 the Fisher House Foundation has built 75 “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 a total over $400 million in lodging and transportation costs. Currently, 25 locations are on the waiting list.

So far, the Fisher House 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.