By Vice Adm. William D. French
Commander, Navy Installations Command
We continue to grieve and we continue to heal. That’s normal and that’s the way it should be. This path we’re on is long, but we will get through it together. We will find and build the new normal as a team and as a Navy family.
Two weeks after the senseless shooting on Sept. 16, there are many survivors and family members who have great need for our assistance. Commander, Navy Installations Command has responded by providing superb support around the clock to those affected.
While we remain hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted, regardless, occupational health and wellness services will continue for victims, families and employees affected by the Navy Yard shooting.
Our emergency family assistance centers at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and at our headquarters on the Washington Navy Yard are providing world-class grief counseling to victims, families and Washington Navy Yard workers; a third center will be established at Buzzard Point, one of Naval Sea Systems Command’s temporary locations. They are a central location for Navy families to access assistance and resources that they may need following a disaster. The centers are dedicated to promoting short and long-term recovery through continuous, authoritative and factual family information and referral assistance for service members, families, service providers, leadership and other stakeholders.
The counseling and other services we offer are the result of tremendous effort and resources provided by such organizations as the American Red Cross, Fleet and Family Support Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Navy’s Special Psychiatric Rapid Response Intervention Team from Portsmouth, Va., the FBI Office of Victim’s Assistance, Federal Occupational Health, HOPE- Animal Assisted Crisis Response, D.C. Crime Victims Compensation, William Wendt Center, and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
Our centers are available during the business day for anyone who feels the need to talk to someone. Our hotline is available 24/7 at 1-855-677-1755.
We are here to help everyone and will turn no one away. We’ve interacted with almost 7,500 people by phone, group sessions or through one-on-one counseling and are ready to assist many more.
I can’t give a timeline for when our efforts will no longer be required. However, I can tell you that we will keep our emergency family assistance centers in place for as long as that may be. We are not done until no one else knocks on our door.
It’s not just counseling that we’re coordinating. We are assisting Naval Sea Systems Command get settled into temporary spaces, including the former Coast Guard headquarters at Buzzard Point.
I am extremely proud of our entire team (inter-service, inter-agency and non-government partners) for the incredible effort you have already put forth and ask that we remain focused and vigilant. Our job is not yet done.
Thank you again for your Herculean efforts; keep up the great work.