First Fisher House opens in Kansas City for VA Hospital patients, families

Health

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time, veterans and their families now have a free place to stay in Kansas City while their loved one goes through treatment at the VA Hospital.

The $8 million Fisher House opened Tuesday with its first guests.

After a 4.5-hour trip from Larned, Kansas, Shelley and Joel Wolf arrived at the 16-room home Tuesday.

“We stayed at another Fisher House in Denver before when I had to go to Denver, but this is really, really nice,” Joel Wolf said.

“He starts to think where are you going to stay?” Shelly Wolf added.

But for Joel Wolf, an Army veteran, travel arrangements are the last thing he wants to be thinking about.

After all, he’s at Fisher House for a heart procedure. He’s been on the transplant list.

“It took a lot of pressure off because otherwise we’d be running around searching for a place to stay,” Joel Wolf said.

That’s the goal of the Fisher House.

The Fisher House Foundation donated the home, which will now be operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Money for the upkeep will come from local sponsors.

Program Manager Michael Unden showed FOX4 around Tuesday.

“The family often doesn’t have the money to stay in a hotel for sometimes days, weeks or even months while their loved one is undergoing treatment,” Unden said. “This allows them to be able to travel here, stay free of charge in an amazing comfort home.”

The only stipulation is the family must be traveling more than 50 miles for treatment at the VA Hospital.

It can be stressful for these veterans, some of whom are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, and might find it easier to stay home and ignore the treatment they need.

Add in the veteran suicide rate — nearly two times that of civilians — and staff said help like what veterans receive at the Fisher House is critical.

As for the Wolf family, they’d only been inside a few minutes but already felt right at home.

“I think we’ll move in,” Shelly Wolf said laughing.

There are 92 Fisher Houses around the world, with the closest ones in St. Louis and Omaha.

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