A planned addition to the James J. Peters VA medical center in Kingsbridge should provide peace of mind to patient’s families.
Fisher House Foundation has announced its intention to construct two 16-unit buildings on the VA grounds that will provide free temporary lodging to family of veterans receiving treatment at the facility, helping reduce stress for families during trying times.
Local veterans organizations have been asked to raise $1 million from the greater community for the buildings, said Tom Hansen of the Samuel Young American Legion Post 620.
“It’s a really big deal for the Bronx’s VA,” said Hansen, adding that the lodging is going to become more important when the hospital begins performing kidney transplants in its new renal unit.
Veterans will be coming from as far away as New England, southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, he said, adding families will not have to be concerned with finding a hotel or arranging for local transportation.
Military installations and veterans groups were asked to help fundraise a portion of the overall funding for Fisher Houses’ construction so they have “skin in the game,” said Hansen.
The two Fisher Houses at the Peters VA will be the foundation’s 74th and 75th, and a groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for Thursday, May 25, coinciding with Fleet Week, said Kenneth Fisher, Fisher House Foundation chairman.
Fisher said that he wanted to build a Fisher House at James J. Peters VA because he is originally from Riverdale, describing himself as a ‘Bronx boy.’
“Because I am the chairman and I am from the Bronx, this became a high priority for me,” said Fisher, adding, “I am proud to come home in a certain respect.”
Looking to the Kingsbridge community’s Tudor-style walk-up apartment buildings, Fisher wanted the 10,000 to 12,000 square foot buildings’ architecture to mirror the surrounding community.
There will be some differences in that the Fisher buildings will have elevators, but no fire escapes. They will not be cookie-cutter buildings, he said.
“It is going to be a little different than the norm,” said Fisher, adding that much of Peters’ Fisher House will reflect his roots in the borough.
Typical Fisher Houses cost $4 million each to construct, said Fisher, though the final pricing is not yet been determined.
These buildings will be union-built by Plaza Construction, said Fisher.
All Fisher Houses are located on federal land at VAs and military hospitals and have private bedrooms and baths, with communal kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms, according to the charitable organization.
“We are proud and appreciative to have received favorable consideration of our Fisher House application,” said Dr. Erik Langhoff, director at James J. Peters VA. “This home-away-from-home will be a tremendous comfort for our wounded warriors and their families.”
Pat Devine, a veterans advocate with the Bronx American Legion, urged fellow veterans to support the cause, since the VA medical center itself is not permitted to fundraise.
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