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House approves $500,000 for a proposed 'Fisher House' in Fargo

The North Dakota House has approved $500,000 in state general funds for the construction of the “Fisher House” in Fargo.

"The Fisher House is like a Ronald McDonald House for families of veterans who are going under serious medical treatment at the VA Hospital in Fargo," said Rep. Michelle Strinden (R-Fargo), the lead sponsor of HB 1157.

Strinden told the House the first “Fisher House” was built about 30 years ago, when John and Elizabeth Fisher were at the Walter Reed hospital. She said they noticed family members of veterans were sleeping on couches and in their vehicles – which the Fishers found unacceptable.

"Since that time, more than 80 Fisher Houses have been built in the US, and military posts around the world — but not in North Dakota," Strinden said.

Strinden said the Fargo VA Hospital has the largest footprint of any VA hospital in the nation, serving veterans across North Dakota, as well as 18 counties in western Minnesota, and one county in South Dakota.

"Many veterans travel up to 300 miles to receive care in Fargo," Strinden said. "But where do their families stay during these medical emergencies?"

Strinden said the costs of a hotel during a seven to ten day stay are expensive.

Strinden told the House more than $7 million in private funds have been raised for the project. She said the 2022 Special Session set aside $500,000 in America Recovery Plan Act dollars – and the state dollars will match that.

Strinden said a groundbreaking is scheduled sometime in May, 2024.