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.

Contact Courtney Griffin at or 254-501-7559

(1) comment

I am truly amazed at why the locations of WAL MART were chosen to place these mobile Vet Centers.
THEY of all people, know the 4 main symptoms of PTSD and one of those is avoidance of crowded situations, such as a crowded parking lot, like Wal Mart. People do not drive cautiously; are busy putting their items in their vehicle; not always watching their children who can run into an on-coming car.
WHAT is the ONE place Soldiers & Veterans will NOT go during day-light hours due to crowds, noise, screaming children, someone bumping your cart?
This is not a slam at Wal Mart!
Soldiers and Veterans will go, but you'll find them there after 11pm & before 4am, when it is slow, quiet & no one will threaten their boundaries.
Were there not any libraries in our area that had large parking lots?
I was just astounded when I heard they were bringing them to Wal Mart!
Perhaps they were not targeting Soldiers & Veterans.
Perhaps they were aiming at people who are civilians who are in shock & need to talk or don't want to be alone.
If just reaching a lot of people was their aim, it was the right decision.
If Soldiers & Vets needed to talk, Ft Hood had the chapels on post covered.
There are several support groups for PTSD & Trauma in the Ft Hood-Killeen area that are safe & confidential environments.
Some are off post if that makes you more comfortable.
Tues: Darnall Army Chapel: BEITZ PTSD Group 10-11am, BEITZ PTSD Group downtown Killeen, Females only Just STRESSED OUT! 6-7pm, 717 N 4th St; Warrior Shield PTSD Combat Trauma, Harker Heights, 6:30, H.H. United Methodist Church; families, soldiers, veterans; Thursday TRAUMA SURVIVORS, Darnall Chapel, 2-3pm; Thursday BEITZ PTSD group for all, 6-7pm, 717 N.4th, Killeen.
You don't have to talk. Just say Pass. Everyone has an opportunity to talk if they want. Don't Come if you are on Drugs, been drinking Alcohol, etc...get the picture? There are plenty of tissues. These are ALL PEER TO PEER. People who have been & done what you have. No doctors. No psychologists. Just other soldiers, vets and spouses.
Thanks for letting me share.

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