This post was written by Liz Fielden, who is in the Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces department at the National Headquarters in DC. Her focus is in mental health services for service members and their families. Follow her on Twitter at @fielden10910.
The Red Cross is responding to those affected by the Navy Yard shooting. See the press release for updated information.
Over the past year, our communities have witnessed unthinkable violence: Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown and Boston. As a Denver native who grew up with Columbine High School practically in my backyard, I am no stranger to the physical and emotional damage an active shooter situation can cause victims, their families, and the surrounding community. Although I was only in elementary school, April 20, 1999 is a day that I vividly remember nearly 15 years later. Today is another day I will never forget.
Shortly after arriving at Red Cross Headquarters this morning, my heart dropped when I heard the news of an active shooter just a couple of miles away inside the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. at Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters. As someone who helps provide mental health support to service members and their families, I couldn’t help but think about the families who do everything to prepare for their loved one’s deployments, never expecting something like this to happen when they’re at home.
If you or someone you know is affected by today’s tragedy, or a disaster of any kind, here are some helpful mental health resources:
- redcross.org: Recovering Emotionally
- MilitaryOneSource.mil: Counseling
- istss.org: Mass Disasters, Trauma and Loss [PDF]
- Disaster Distress Helpline
Since this is an ongoing situation, cell phones and social media are great resources for getting in touch with loved ones. However, as is true in any evacuation or shelter in place situation, people may not have immediate phone access; no news is not necessarily bad news.
According to the U.S. Navy, family members looking for information about their loved ones can call the Navy Yard’s Warfighter and Family Support Center at 202-433-6151 or 202-433-9713. For the most up-to-date and verified information, you can follow @USNavy on Twitter. For military families, your ombudsman will be able to provide information as well. Military policy is that families are informed first if your loved one was affected.