Donated La Crosse home clears final hurdle to help military veterans

Tomah VA officially takes ownership of 3120 Farnam St in La Crosse as part of transitional housing program
Veterans' Home

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Veterans will soon have a place to call home while they work through their invisible wounds. A La Crosse family decided two years ago to donate their home to the Tomah VA.  The family wanted the home to continue to have a purpose in La Crosse.

Right now it feels as if seconds tick but they fail to pass.

Barb and Dave Erickson have felt this way for the past two years. Their persistence and patience also did not pass.

“A lot of Norwegian bohemian attitude went into this,” Barb Erickson said.

Now the paperwork is final.

“It was kind of the end of a journey for us,” she said.

Their former home on 3120 Farnam Street has walls that can talk. Walls of memories built out of love for their son and they said the home still has a purpose.

“So we needed to continue that home serving the population it was built for,” Barb Erickson said.

Their son Chad needed this place due to his own unfortunate circumstance.

“Went into the hospital for brain surgery and came home with a severe brain issue,” she said.

Chad lost a large piece of his independence and later his life.

“…unable to walk, talk, he couldn’t do anything for himself,” she said.

The Erickson family is welded into military service. They decided to donate the home to the Tomah VA to provide a home for veterans who suffer from their experiences.

“It will be for veterans that have gone through PTSD, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, but they have graduated from the programs in Tomah and are ready for that next step,” she said.

Their idea was met with disagreement from neighbors with fair honest concerns for the safety of their own homes nearby.

“I understood it as a mom,” she said.

Dave Erickson also empathized with the hesitation of members of the community.

“Just the unknown part,” Dave Erickson said. “Everybody’s fearful of the unknown.”

Barb Erickson said the first thing these veterans wake up and see out their window at the VA matters.

“You look out your window and you see a hospital,” she said. “Where a home like this it would be a home. We have our own bedroom. We come and we go.”

She’s confident these walls are the foundation for healing along with an open door to independence.

“They sacrificed a lot for us. This is just a tiny tiny thing we can give back to them,” she said.

The Erickson’s are hopeful the home will be in use by early next year. The home can house about eight people at a time.