Today is Veterans Day, so this seemed an appropriate time to tell about a recent visit we made to a large VA hospital complex. My special vet has some health conditions which require occasional visits to a VA facility nearly 100 miles away from our home. We are fortunate to live so close. Many others have to travel much further than we did. We saw cars there from Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado and California. Since my vet had an early morning appointment, we chose to drive down the day before rather than starting out before daylight and finishing in rush hour traffic. We had been told that we could stay on the VA campus, but I was not looking forward to it. I imagined some grim, drab military building, sleeping on cots.
Instead we found a place called Fisher House. There are apparently Fisher Houses on or near many military complexes. Ours was on the grounds of the George E. Wahlen Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Fisher House serves the families of vets who are there for treatment, from one day to extended stays. What a blessing this is for these families.
After checking in, we were given a tour of the house before being shown to our room.
We were given our 'keys' to the building and our room which was beautiful as well as handicapped accessible.
In addition to the bedrooms, there were many communal rooms. No food was allowed in the bedrooms, but a beautiful dining area was provided. During meal times, it was a great place for families to get acquainted.
The communal kitchen had around 5 refrigerators with compartments for each room to keep food as well as quite a bit of basic food which was donated for the use of everyone there. On the night we were there, we didn't even need to prepare our dinner. A group of folks from the 729th Air Control Squadron along with a member of the Idaho Air National Guard showed up and took over the kitchen where they made everyone a nice spaghetti dinner. There were also little cupboards in the kitchen for each bedroom's residents to keep food.
Next to the kitchen was the laundry room. We didn't need to use it since we were there for just a night, but others were keeping it busy. When we first went in to the laundry room to look around a lady apologized, "Here, let me get that (prosthetic) leg out of your way!"
A large DVD collection was in the hall and the library area was stocked with books. Computers were also available for use in the common areas.
Even though it is November, the weather was beautiful. People were relaxing on the patio when we arrived, although no one was using the provided grills at the time. In the background we could even see a little play area for children.
We were there on election night, so the TV room was tuned into the election returns. Anyone who didn't want to watch the election was able to watch whatever they wanted on the TVs in the bedrooms.
Our particular Fisher House was dedicated to the memory of Chance Phelps, USMC, who was buried in nearby Wyoming. Our room had a copy of a DVD movie made about him called 'Taking Chance".
If you decide to watch it, keep your tissues handy.
The staff and facilities at Fisher House were wonderful. They are a true blessing in the lives of the families who stay there. If you ever have occasion to be treated at a VA facility with a Fisher House, I highly recommend that you give it a try.