From the Warrior: The Need for the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge
Stories from VA Palo Alto Health Care System Patients

Mrs. Meyer

Mrs. Meyer with her husband and daughter

Mrs. Meyer* is an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran from Guam who was admitted to the Women’s Trauma Program at Palo Alto. “My husband came with me, but we were not able to find a place to accommodate the both of us. Since his involvement in the Family Group program was crucial to my recovery, we did not know what we were going to do. Luckily he was able to stay at the existing lodge on campus and he could fully participate in group sessions and help me heal.”

Sgt. McLaughlin

Staff Sergeant McLaughlin

During his second tour of Iraq, Sgt. McLaughlin sustained a head injury and swelling of the brain. As a result, he is suffering from hearing and vision loss. He lives four hours away from the VA Polytrauma Center and is unable to drive to the hospital for treatment. Sgt. McLaughlin says the new Defenders Lodge will help with morale as he and other veterans fight to recover. “Soldiers who have housing and transportation issues [will] have one less thing to worry about so they can concentrate on their appointments and help themselves to get better and back on track with their lives.”

Mr. Barkley

Older gentleman pausing

Mr. Barkley, a Vietnam veteran, travels to the VA Hospital from Alaska for his cancer treatment. He thinks the atmosphere in the present lodge is that of an old hospital room. “It’s cold and damp. I’ll admit it . . . I end up crying and miss my family. But I need to be here for treatments — the doctors are great and that’s why I’m here. I believe the PenFed Foundation came up with a great idea for a new lodge, and if they can make that happen, it would relieve a lot of stress.”

Mr. Johnson

Elderly couple holding hands

Mr. Johnson* is a veteran of the Korean War. He and his wife are in their eighties, live on a fixed income and travel more than three and a half hours to and from the Palo Alto VA hospital. “Trips to the doctor and the VA are hard on us. To make things easier, we try to schedule multiple appointments over several days. Without a building like the Defenders Lodge we would never be able to make all of the appointments I need to come to. My wife and I really appreciate having a free place to stay.”

*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes