Just over four years ago, Cliff and Maureen Crabbe’s then 22-year-old son stepped on an improvised explosive device while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The Marine lost both of his legs, his parents said.
For the next year and a half, the Rancho Cucamonga family found themselves in Maryland where their son was in treatment.
After spending the first three months between their son’s bedside in the intensive care unit and a local hotel, the Crabbes were then introduced to the Fisher House—a multi-unit home available to families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers, at no cost to them.
“It was phenomenal, it’s a total community, it's a whole family," Maureen said during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning for VA Long Beach Healthcare System’s very own Fisher House. “We were able to be close to my son [...] but we were also close in the community with the rest of the families.”
It’s basically a home away from home, said Fisher House Foundation Chief of Staff Mary Considine.
“The model of Fisher House is these are not folks that necessary live in Long Beach, so the Long Beach community is opening up their arms to take care of these veterans who are going to travel long distances and their families who are so important to be by their side in recovery,” Considine said.
The 16,000-square-foot home—which will house 16 units as well as a kitchen, laundry facilities, dining area and living room—is expected to be completed in one year.
According to officials with the nonprofit fundraising group Fisher House Southern California, only $300,000 of the $6 million needed to complete the project, is needed.
Donations have come from as far as Hawaii and New England, and as little as $5 donations to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations at one time, according to former Representative and FHSC President Steven Kuykendall.
“And every one of those donations represented an investment by that donor in saying thank you to the military forces that have defended our country,” Kuykendall said.
Donors include Delta Air Lines, the California Veterans Charity Fund, American Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star Mothers of America and the Long Beach Rotary Club.
The home will become the eighth in the state once completed. There are 65 homes currently in operation.
“Fisher House has a motto that family’s good medicine,” Cliff said. “It’s actually the best medicine.”
Photos by Stephanie Rivera.