Hotel for veterans opens at Palo Alto VA


It took a long seven years from the time the Defenders Lodge was conceived to the ribbon cutting Tuesday.

It's been billed as nothing short of a five-star hotel. The 34,000 square foot veterans' facility, with 53 suites, has state of the art accommodations. Each suite has two queen beds, one for the patient, the other for the caregiver.

Not far away is the hospital and its renowned polytrauma center, which serves veterans from all over the western United States and Pacific Rim.

Cindy Dong serves in the Navy. She's being treated for cancer at the VA hospital.

"Every time I try to book a hotel there, a stay at the Home Terrace, it's always booked up," she said. "There's never a room for me to stay and I have chemo, you know, so I'm very happy this is opening up."

A hospital survey two years ago found that 11,000 patients had to find temporary housing. Many had to drive 50 miles to get an affordable hotel while they waited for treatment in Palo Alto. Others simply gave up.

"The hotels in this area are so prohibitively expensive, some of them might have chosen not to come or perhaps sleep in their cars if we couldn't accommodate them," VA Palo Alto Health Care System spokesperson Lisa Freedman said.

For the guests, it's all free.

The $17 million project is a public private partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and charitable donors.

Retired Col. Bob Siegert chairs the Pentagon Credit Union Foundation, which helped fund the hotel.

"You don't have to worry about the costs that may accrue to your treatment here," he said. "You shouldn't have to pay for accommodations.

Those who worked on this project say it's a way of thanking our veterans and wounded warriors.

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