Sheri Beck recently helped Joleen Cahill take memorabilia off the fence that surrounded the 2009 Fort Hood shooting site before officials demolished the building. Cahill, whose husband was killed by gunman Nidal Hasan in 2009, reached out to Beck’s organization, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, for grief support.
A nationwide nonprofit organization, TAPS is one of many support organizations in the area offering to help service members and their families through any aftershock effects Wednesday’s shooting wrought. Offering peer-based support to many family members who lost a soldier in active-duty combat, Beck said getting support after a traumatic event from others who share a similar background can help.
“TAPS was founded after a National Guard C-12 (plane) crash, and all families that lost a loved one in that crash bonded together,” Beck said, explaining founder Bonnie Carroll began the organization as a result of her own experiences as a surviving family member of that 1992 Alaskan plane crash. “They found that the most healing occurred when they bonded together.”
Andrea Farmer, site supervisor of the mobile Department of Veterans Affairs counseling vans that popped up in the area after Wednesday’s incident, agreed.
The VA staff is comprised mostly of veterans and combat veterans, she said. The vans were dispersed because staff anticipated an increased need for support among service members.
Farmer said she had seen many veterans come to the vans after the shooting triggered feelings they wanted to address.
“I know (veterans counseling veterans helps),” she said. “One of the ways it helps is we can say ‘been there, done that’ it’s a little more empathetic because I might not be able to actually be in your shoes, but in sense parallel, I’ve walked in your shoes.”
Farmer said the 2009 shooting was shocking, and counseling plays a big piece in a soldier’s transition back into civilian life.