The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families, held a fundraising event yesterday together with former Secretary of State and Stanford scholar Condoleezza Rice to raise money and awareness for the Defenders Lodge, a free hotel for veterans undergoing medical care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

The construction of the lodge, which is already underway and funded entirely through private donations, is slated to be completed later this year.

“We are honored to have Dr. Rice support our work and this special project to help the men and women who have selflessly made huge sacrifices to defend our nation,” said Kate Kohler, chief operating officer of the PenFed Foundation who is a former Army captain.“She really articulated the importance of supporting and caring for our nation’s military and veterans.”

Hosted by the Honorable Anthony J. Principi, General (Ret.) John P. Jumper, and Mr. Lee R. Anderson Sr., along with the PenFed Foundation, the invitation-only event called “Supporting Our National Heroes: A Conversation with Condoleezza Rice” took place at a private home in the bucolic community of Woodside, just outside of Palo Alto, Calif. Key sponsors of the event included Epic Real Estate Solutions, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, and Miller & Long D.C., Inc. 

At the event, guests had the opportunity to have their photo taken with Dr. Rice and engage in a conversation about supporting active-duty and retired military. All funds raised at the event go towards supporting the Defenders Lodge, which is a $17 million public-private partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs in which the foundation is raising $11 million in private donations to cover the cost of construction.

With close ties to the foundation, Dr. Rice currently sits on the Defenders Lodge Campaign Committee as an Honorary Co-Chair, along with R. James Nicholson, William J. Perry and George P. Shultz, soliciting support for the lodge on behalf of the veterans and their caregivers who will stay there.

“Last year, more than 15,000 veterans found temporary housing in the Palo Alto area—some even went as far as sleeping in their cars—and many had to drive 50 miles to find an affordable place to stay while they underwent treatment,” added Kohler. “The Defenders Lodge will resolve this issue by providing veterans with a free, safe, warm, and comfortable place to stay. The success of yesterday’s event is a testimony to our generous donors and others who selflessly support this project and are committed to helping provide veterans with the quality of care they need and deserve.”

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