When Lena Richardson looks at the fenced area next to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center's uptown division, she doesn't see a vacant space.
Rather, Richardson sees a 21-bedroom Fisher House, which could be built in 2008.
"We are very excited," said Ms. Richardson, a hospital employee and project manager for the Fisher House.
VA hospital officials learned in October that the Fisher House Foundation had approved their application for a house.
The Fisher House provides housing for families of military patients receiving treatment at area hospitals at little or no cost.
In April, the 34th Fisher House was opened. That one was near a VA hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. Last year, the first 21-bedroom house was built in Houston.
The first Fisher House was opened in 1991, and an eight-bedroom Fisher House opened near Fort Gordon's Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center in 1993.
"With (wounded) soldiers returning from Iraq, the Fisher House at Fort Gordon cannot accommodate us," Richardson said.
About 20 families stayed at the Fort Gordon house this year, but there are transportation issues with families staying on post. There is no shuttle service from Fort Gordon to the VA hospital. If families don't have cars, they must pay for transportation or find another way to get to the hospital.
The VA Fisher House will be within a five-minute walk of the hospital. In addition to 21 bedrooms, there will be several common spaces such as a dining room, kitchen, living room and a play room for children, Richardson said.
The exterior would be designed to blend in with an architectural style common to the area.
"Each facility is a little different," she said.
With the plans for the house approved, the VA needs a sponsor for the project before construction can begin.
"We need $1.5 million before we can start," she said.
VA hospital employees cannot solicit funds, she said, so a foundation or charity needs to step into the role.
The Fisher House Foundation provides matching funds to build the homes.
"We hope to have a sponsor shortly," Richardson said.
Any organization interested in becoming the sponsor should contact Janice Kennedy at (706) 823-1733.
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