Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston VA breaks ground on first Fisher House
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and Fisher House Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 18 for the Lowcountry’s first Fisher House.
“After years of fundraising, an unbelievable amount of hard work and fortitude, and no small amount of luck, we convene in celebration here today on the grounds of what will soon be a 16-suite home away from home for the loved ones of our healing heroes,” said Charleston VAMC Director Scott Isaacks.
Efforts to build the house started more than four years ago as a grassroots movement led by local Fisher House Charleston founders Trux and Durbin Emerson. The Emersons, with great community support, managed to raise $4 million to purchase, and then donate to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the current land and property, located at 150 Wentworth Street in Downtown Charleston, on which the Charleston Fisher House will be built.
City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, VA Southeast Network Director Leslie Wiggins, Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Ken Fisher, Scott Isaacks and Durbin Emerson gave remarks at the event. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson served as the keynote speaker.
During his remarks, Isaacks led the unvieling and dedication of a special cornerstone, which will be placed in a prominent position in the construction of the Charleston Fisher House to honor the life and philanthropy of Jack Taylor, founder and president of Enterprise Car Rental. Taylor, a proud Navy Veteran, named his company after the ship he was stationed on while serving in the military, and made a significant contribution to the Fisher House Foundation to support the construction of Fisher Houses across the country, including the Charleston Fisher House.
“It’s one thing when the government or people in the VA or other agencies reach and serve and help our Veterans,” said Gibson. “It’s something else entirely when the American people do it. Every time a Veteran or Veteran family walks in the door, that’s going to be a message of thanks from the people of Charleston.”
The Fisher House Foundation will manage the construction of the $7 million, 16,000-square-foot house with assistance from Charleston VAMC’s Engineering Department. The Charleston Fisher House is projected to be complete by early 2018 and will join the ranks of the 31 other VA Fisher Houses in the U.S. in service to Veterans, military members and their families.