A special place for veterans and their families
Veterans Guest House
The Veterans Guest House began 22 years ago because a mother and her children were found sleeping in a car while her husband was in the VA Medical Center. Today, we provide over 5,000 nights of lodging annually to U.S. military service veterans and their families while they are receiving treatment at a medical facility in Reno-Sparks. Whether a veteran or their family member is in need of medical treatment in the Reno area, the Guest House stands ready to remove the burden of lodging from their shoulders.
Edwin is a lively 89-year-young WWII Navy veteran who lives in rural Nevada. He came to the Guest House a few years back and stayed for close to four months while undergoing radiation treatment. It is not easy being away from home and family during times like these. The Guest House provides all the comforts of home, truly a safe-haven in times of need. Edwin has a wonderful spirit and positive attitude, which helped him get through the grueling treatments with good results. Now he stays when he has follow-up appointments and is known for whipping up a batch of his famous brittle! Without the Guest House, Edwin is not sure what he would have done.
Guests who stay with us can be receiving treatment from any doctor or medical facility, including long term care facilities. Typically, guests live at least 30 miles away from Reno and fall into three categories:
Veterans receiving outpatient care,
Families of veterans who are hospitalized, and
Veteran’s immediate family member who is receiving medical treatment as an inpatient or outpatient. Anyone who has served knows that the family serves too.
Since 1994 we have provided close to 55,000 guest nights, and the need to support our veterans keeps growing. Although we ask our guests to make a donation to help defray operating costs, no one is turned away for lack of funds. We have gotten to know many of our guests, and know that most would not be able to afford lodging. That means they would forgo treatments they need; stay in an unsafe place, like their car; or take on a significant financial burden.
To our knowledge, the Veterans Guest House is the only facility of its kind in the country. It is supported completely through the generosity of the private sector and all funds stay here in the community. We do not receive government funds or assistance.
Local organizations and businesses support the Guest House in ways that work for them: from hands-on volunteering, to event sponsorship, to collecting wish list items. Events such as golf tournaments and car rallies are held by outside organizations with the Guest House being the recipient of their fundraising efforts. The Veterans Guest House also produces five main events each year.
We work with many businesses that dedicate a company-wide fundraiser for the Guest House. Western Environmental Testing Laboratory (WETLAB) is an example. Last year the WETLAB staff decided to “adopt” a local cause as a company-wide fundraising event in order to make as large an impact as possible. What the employees, friends and family members raised was matched by WETLAB. The company and employees donated over $17,000 last year and a relationship was built.
Andy Smith, WETLAB’s quality assurance manager, described his reason to support the Guest House in WETLAB’s blog: “The thought of these veterans, in perhaps their greatest time of need, having to worry about where they or their loved ones may be staying, troubles me. To know that our veterans or family members are staying in a wonderfully comfortable house literally across the street must provide some level of comfort to those in the care of the local VA hospital.”
For some individuals and businesses, a cash donation is just not possible. There are a number of volunteer opportunities for your organization, business, and individuals. Volunteers come to the house to help with on-site projects, e.g. yard clean up, to hosting a book sale. Over 200 volunteers help serve beer at beverage booths at the Nugget Rib Cook-Off, others participate in one of our fundraisers. We never know when someone might ring our doorbell with a box of breakfast cereal, fresh fruit, flashlights, even toilet paper. It’s all welcomed and helps reduce our expenditures. For the latest needs, please see the wish list on our Web site.
If you are looking for a cause, we invite you to become a part of our family supporting veterans in need. To learn more about the Veterans Guest House, visit us online at http://www.veteransguesthouse.org, give us a call at 775-324-6958, or schedule a tour. We are very proud of our “Home Away From Home!”
Noreen Leary is CEO of the Veterans Guest House.