Within hours of the shooting in Las Vegas this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs displayed what is considered the “fourth mission” of the agency. VA’s trauma-trained experts, including mental health professionals, counselors and social workers were quickly onsite to help the greater Las Vegas community deal with the tragedy.
“There is a tremendous amount of shock that everyone is experiencing,“ said Dr. Ramu Komanduri, VA’s chief of staff at the Southern Nevada Healthcare System. “Our goal is to be supportive, offer a presence, try to help people while they search for answers, and as time passes in the days ahead, help them with longer term symptoms and problems associated with such a horrific trauma.”
As reported in VA’s blog, VAntage Point, on Monday, a team from the Las Vegas and Henderson Vet Centers was sent to a family reunification center to help anyone who was looking for friends and family. By that afternoon, three mobile vet centers were onsite, which allowed 24-hour mental health availability for those in need. The additional 10 staff members increased the on-site individual and family counseling availability and helped with resource referrals.
“VA has decades of experience taking care of veterans who have been in combat and those who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Komanduri. “As such, we can inform and educate the community in recognizing and treating the symptoms of PTSD so those in need receive care faster.”
Mobile Vet Centers have recently been deployed to help community recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria damaged local services. Last year, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, more than 2,000 people received help from the VA’s mobile counseling teams.
Dr. Komanduri stresses that it’s important for anyone affected by the shooting to seek out professional help from a doctor or counselor. “We know several veterans and military members’ were in attendance as either spectators or first responders,” Komanduri said. “We also know many were visiting from out of town, whether it’s here in Southern Nevada or another location where individuals travelled form, the VA has services available.”
You can go here for a list of where you can find VA’s mobile vet centers and other clinics located in the Las Vegas area.