After years of construction, two Fisher Houses for military families have officially opened at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Kingsbridge on Wednesday, May 22.
Built by Plaza Construction, the Tudor-style, 13,300 square foot two-story housing units will provide a total of 32 free, temporary housing suites for family members and caregivers of hospitalized veterans receiving treatment at the VA facility.
Nationwide, Fisher House has a total of 84 housing sites; none of which resemble these twin, first in the Bronx and the city, sites.
“We had to change the format from what we build in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” joked Ken Fisher, who’s the chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation and a native Bronxite who wanted these sites to be ‘uniquely Bronx’ in design.
The Fisher family spent years on the Grand Concourse prior to his family’s move to Riverdale where Ken “grew up, went to public school and played stickball.” That was before he along others were instrumental in saving the USS Intrepid from being scrapped in the late 1970s and of course creating his foundation for veterans and their families.
Photos of that famous aircraft carrier now hang inside the two new temporary homes for veterans’ families along with an iconic shot of Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market and many other city icons.
Those houses also provide a fully equipped kitchen, spacious dining room, laundry room, and luxurious common living areas and patios for families of loved ones receiving treatment.
Joining Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie’s at the ribboncutting was ‘Bronx Tales’ actor, Bronxite Chazz Palminteri.
“Why do you think I’m here? It’s for the veterans, they deserve all the support in the world,” he said mentioning how meaningful it is for himself to see something like Fisher Houses open in his home borough.
The VA center can now, with the hospitality aid of Fisher Houses, specialize in exoskeleton research while treating paralyzed veterans.
Wilkie said confidently that a breakthrough in exoskeleton research that could even repair spinal parallelization would likely come from the research being done in the Bronx.
According to Fisher Houses, the suites can probably serve up to 11,680 families annually.