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Free family lodging being built near Omaha VA hospital

August 6, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Construction has begun on a lodging facility for families of sick or injured Nebraska and western Iowa veterans being treated at the veterans hospital in Omaha.

The $8 million Fisher House will include 16 hotel-style suites at a site near the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Families will be able to stay there without cost while veterans receive care through the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System.

“If the veteran is in the hospital, the family can stay, too,” said Julie Rickert, associate director of operations for VA Nebraska-Western Iowa.

It is funded by the Fisher House Foundation with local donations and will be given to the VA when complete to operate as a federal building. It is expected to open in late 2020.

There are more than 80 Fisher Houses at military and veterans hospitals around the United States, as well as two in Europe, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The program was begun in 1990 by philanthropist and real estate developer Zachary Fisher.

Fisher Houses have common kitchen and dining areas where families get to know one another, as well as laundry facilities.

“They were a blessing in one of the darkest times in my life,” said Barb Yllescas-Vorthmann, of Treynor, Iowa, who is vice president of the Nebraska Gold Star Mothers chapter, which also includes western Iowa.

She stayed at the Fisher Houses in Landstuhl, Germany, and in Washington, D.C., for more than a month after her son, Army Capt. Rob Yllescas, was badly wounded in combat in Afghanistan on Oct. 28, 2008. He died a month later.

Staffers at the homes were compassionate and helpful and the families staying there bonded and supported one another through terrible times, Yllescas-Vorthmann said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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