The Fisher House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers veterans, service members and their families a free place to stay if they have to travel to Anchorage for medical treatment. The house opened four years ago, but need has been so high, the organization is now planning to expand.

House manager Jenny Hall said they can accommodate 27 families each night: 12 in the main house and 15 in military dorm rooms. She said sometimes it’s not enough, and they often have a waiting list.

“We have had stories of veterans sleeping in their cars because they couldn’t afford a hotel downtown,” Hall said.

Hall knew they needed more space, and the Fisher House Foundation agreed. Plans for a second house, next to the first, were recently approved. Crews will break ground in the spring and construction is expected to last 16 to 18 months.

Hall said the house eases the burden for people already going through a tough time.

“Physically, you can just see families go, ‘ok, I’m going to be alright,’” she said. “It’s clean, it’s safe, there’s food. There’s a place to stay, it’s comfortable.”

Flynn and G. Nicholas Stuparich are regulars at Fisher House. A former Marine, Nicholas Stuparich has undergone operations on his neck, shoulders and knees, as well as cancer treatments. The couple travels in from Valdez for treatment. Besides the low cost and comfort, they said it’s also the camaraderie of Fisher House that they love — there are other military families for support.

“It’s like a nest,” Nicholas Stuparich said. “You come back, you’re comfortable, you look around, and we’re home and we feel good about that.”

Fisher House relies on community support and donations to continue running.

KTVA 11' Bonney Bowman can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.