North Dakota House greenlights $500,000 for state's first Fisher House
The Fisher House Foundation houses military and veteran families while a loved one is in the hospital, near VA medical centers around the world.
FARGO — The North Dakota House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Wednesday, Feb. 22, to approve $500,000 in state general funds to help with the construction of a Fisher House in Fargo.
Rep. Michelle Strinden, R-Fargo, sponsored House Bill 1157 and said the need for a Fisher House in North Dakota is great.
The Fisher House Foundation houses military and veteran families while a loved one is in the hospital, near Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers around the world.
“The Fisher House is like a Ronald McDonald House for families of veterans who are undergoing serious medical treatment at the VA hospital in Fargo,” she said.
The first Fisher House was built 30 years ago by John and Elizabeth Fisher. The two were at Walter Reed hospital when they noticed family members and veterans sleeping on couches and in vehicles, which disturbed them.
“Since that time, more than 80 Fisher Houses have been built in the U.S. and military posts around the world, but not in North Dakota,” Strinden told the House.
Strinden also told legislators that the Fargo VA Medical Center has the biggest footprint in the nation, serving North Dakota, 18 counties in western Minnesota and one county in South Dakota. Some veterans travel up to 300 miles for treatment in Fargo, but there has been no place for their families to stay.
“The cost of a hotel during a 7-10-day stay is very expensive,” Strinden said.
In total, more than $7 million in private funds have been raised for the project, and the 2022 Special Session set aside $500,000 in America Recovery Plan Act dollars, and the state will now match the federal contribution.
Groundbreaking on the Fisher House is expected to begin near the VA campus in May 2024, Strinden said.
“We love our veterans and also the families of veterans who have made great sacrifices and are rarely ever acknowledged for it," she said. "Our veterans will be able to stay in a home away from home during their medical crisis."