July 7, 2017 [Brian Albrecht, The Plain Dealer]
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Veterans being treated at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center are one step closer to having a facility where their families can stay nearby during that treatment.
A June 30 ceremony marked the transfer of land along East 105th Street (just north of and with walking distance of the medical center) to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The site is destined for construction of two Fisher House facilities, each containing 12-14 suites, capable of accommodating up to 50 people. The houses will be run and maintained by the VA.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House, one of 72 nationwide (including three others in Ohio) and overseas, will offer free lodging to the families of veteran patients.
Units feature private bedrooms and baths, with a common kitchen, dining room and laundry facilities.
More than 500 veterans from outside Northeast Ohio come to the medical center every year for treatment. Each day, some 15-20 families of these veterans stay at a local hotel.
The Greater Cleveland Fisher House campaign raised $3.4 million from more than 1,000 donors, which was matched by the national Fisher House Foundation for construction of one of the facilities. The national group is covering the cost of constructing the second home.
It took three years to assemble the 12 different parcels that make up the 2.5-acre site, most of which were owned by the city of Cleveland, the Famicos Foundation and the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (Cuyahoga Land Bank).
Gus Frangos, Cuyahoga Land Bank president, said, “This is the key component, getting the land. It feels so good, it’s just such a good cause, and everybody has been so much behind this. It’s just great for the veterans.”
Tom Sweeney, Greater Cleveland Fisher House president, said groundbreaking for the project could be held this Veterans Day, November 11. Construction has been estimated to take 10-12 months.
He said his organization will convert to a Friends of the Greater Cleveland Fisher House group, and continue to raise funds for whatever needs of visiting veterans’ families aren’t met by the VA.
“There are some projects or amenities the VA can’t pick up, but we can,” he said. “Whatever they are, we’ll get it handled.”