PenFed Foundation to Award Former U.S. Secretaries of State and Former VA Palo Alto Health Care System Director/CEO for their Work to Establish the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge

Posted October 02 2018
by Media Relations

TYSONS, Va., Oct. 2, 2018 — The PenFed Foundation will honor three leaders who played critical roles in building the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge, which has provided Veterans over 115,000 free nights of healing at the VA Palo Alto Medical Center and saved Veterans’ families $34.5 million in lodging costs. An awards dinner will take place on October 8 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Silicon Valley.

“The vision of the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge has truly been realized. This project would not have been possible without its visionaries and champions – Secretary George Shultz, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, and Director/CEO Lisa Freeman,” James Schenck, PenFed president and CEO.

Former U.S. Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice were instrumental in helping to establish the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge to facilitate critical health care for our nation’s Veterans, after former VA Palo Alto Health Care System Director/CEO Lisa Freeman conceived the idea to construct the lodge. The Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge is a 104-bed hotel opened in 2014 to host Veterans undergoing extensive treatments and procedures at the VA Palo Alto Medical Center.

“Some of the best doctors and best treatments in the world are available to our nation’s Veterans at the Palo Alto VA Center,” said Schenck. “We realized the need to establish the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge because of the challenge Veterans faced finding affordable hotels while undergoing outpatient care in the Palo Alto area. Consequently, many Veterans were sleeping in their cars, or worse, forgoing treatment altogether because they couldn’t afford to stay close to the medical center. The PenFed Foundation stepped in because we could not fathom that Veterans who had honorably served our country would have to go to such measures to receive the treatment they deserve.”

The Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge is a public-private partnership between the VA and the PenFed Foundation. The PenFed Foundation raised $11 million in private donations to fund the construction of the lodge that includes 52 guest rooms, a dining room, library and private outdoor spaces, providing a high-quality experience—at no cost to Veterans, their caregivers or families.

“Back in 2008, I shared with the PenFed Foundation the need for a home for Veterans and their families to stay during outpatient treatments in Palo Alto, California. Historically, Veterans would drive many hours in awful traffic to get to an appointment, some would even choose to not come or get treatment at all,” said Freeman. “We receive severely injured service members from all over the world and it’s critically important to provide them with world class care. We are so grateful that the PenFed Foundation sought out a partnership with us to make that happen. They did 99% of the lift to make the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge come to life, and lives are changed every day because of it.”

The Palo Alto VA is one of five Level One Polytrauma Centers in the nation and accommodates nearly one million outpatient visits per year. It offers specialized programs such as a Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, a Spinal Cord Injury Center, a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center and a Traumatic Brain Injury Center.

“The PenFed Credit Union philosophy is ‘people helping people,’” said the Honorable Frederick F.Y. Pang, Chairman of the PenFed Foundation. “Our Foundation was established to help the men and women in uniform and their families. The single biggest undertaking of the Foundation was building the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge at the Palo Alto VA. When the VA approached us with the issue of Veterans skipping appointments or sleeping in cars due to the cost of lodging, we knew we had to do something about it.”

"We are grateful for Lee and Penny Anderson’s support and generous donation of $2.5 million to be the naming rights sponsor which facilitated our ability to build a lodge for the brave military heroes who served our country,” said Schenck. “Veterans deserve a lifetime of the best care long after they leave the battlefield. Through the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge, the vision of providing a place for Veterans and their families to stay free of cost has been fulfilled."

Members of the media are invited to join a VIP tour of the Lee & Penny Anderson Defenders Lodge on Monday, October 8 at 2 p.m. PDT. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet some of the resilient Veterans and caregivers who are staying at the lodge.

Other special guests at the awards dinner will include Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss and Assemblymember Marc Berman (California’s 24th District).

To learn more about the PenFed Foundation and see a short video about its mission, please visit the PenFed Foundation's website.

About PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, credit-building, home ownership, and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. To learn more, visit

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