‘A dream come true’

Ground bro­ken on New Mex­ico’s first Fisher House

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY MADDY HAY­DEN JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

Af­ter more than a decade in the mak­ing, New Mex­ico’s vet­er­ans are fi­nally get­ting a Fisher House.

Ground was bro­ken Fri­day morn­ing on the cam­pus of the VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Al­bu­querque on the 16-bed­room house that will pro­vide a free place for vet­er­ans’ fam­i­lies to stay while they are re­ceiv­ing care.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Rita Navarette, pres­i­dent of Friends of the New Mex­ico Fisher House and lead ad­vo­cate for the project. “All is pos­si­ble when you be­lieve.”

Ruby Gar­cia of Al­bu­querque, an­other sup­porter of the project, knows first­hand the value of a Fisher House.

When her son Vic­tor had a med­i­cal emer­gency while sta­tioned at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2012, she im­me­di­ately caught a flight east, ini­tially stay­ing in a ho­tel for $120 a night be­fore be­ing in­vited to stay at the Fisher House there.

“The im­pact Fisher House had on me was the abil­ity to have a home away from home so I could worry only about Vic­tor’s heal­ing process,” Gar­cia said. “May you never need this Fisher House, but know in your heart it is here for you just like it was for me and Vic­tor.”

Mary Con­si­dine, chief of staff of the Fisher House Foun­da­tion, said con­struc­tion is ex­pected to take around

a year.

The New Mex­ico Fisher House project had ex­pe­ri­enced de­lays due to the site be­ing lo­cated in a fed­eral his­tor­i­cal dis­trict.

That hur­dle was cleared in Jan­uary when a mem­o­ran­dum of agree­ment was signed be­tween the state and stake­hold­ers.

Project ad­vo­cates are hop­ing to raise half of the $6 mil­lion price tag, with the Fisher House Foun­da­tion pro­vid­ing the other half.

The New Mex­ico chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Rid­ers have raised $65,000 to­ward the project, ac­cord­ing to Aaron Dean, the Rid­ers’ state chair­man for Op­er­a­tion Wounded War­rior.

“I’m just ec­static it’s fi­nally hap­pen­ing,” Dean said. “Hav­ing your fam­ily there with you is prob­a­bly some of the best medicine there is.”

There are cur­rently 78 Fisher Houses op­er­at­ing across the United States, Ger­many and Eng­land.

MADDY HAY­DEN/JOUR­NAL

Sup­port­ers of the New Mex­ico Fisher House break ground on the 16-bed­room home at the Ray­mond G. Mur­phy VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter on Fri­day morn­ing.

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