Many of you have likely heard of the tragic shooting at a Carson City, NV IHOP restaurant last week. 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion, armed with an assault rifle that belonged to his brother, shot one person on his way into the IHOP restaurant and headed straight toward the back of the restaurant where uniformed members of the Nevada National Guard were eating breakfast together. Sencion killed 3 (2 Soldiers and one non-military patron who was reportedly in the line of fire between him and the Troops) and injured 6 others before exiting to the parking lot where he shot and killed himself. Such a senseless, tragic incident inevitably elicits the question: “Why?” and for many of us in the counseling profession also, “What can I do to help?”
If you are a professional in the Carson City area and would like to offer your services to those affected by the shooting and those in the surrounding communities, your decision to Give an Hour™ is one way to help directly. Please contact Executive Director, Eric Rogers, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give an Hour™ is a national nonprofit organization that provides free counseling and other mental health services to members of the military, post-9/11 Veterans, their Families, and their communities.
In response to the tragedy in Carson City, NV, Give an Hour™ is already at work and is offering free mental health services to the Carson City community, including Civilians, military personnel, and first responders. While the organization has over 5,700 professionals nationwide, there is a critical shortage in many areas. One of those shortages lies in the surrounding communities of Carson City, NV.
I know of ACA members who are passionate about providing Soldiers and their Families and communities with the unique professional services we have to offer, so I wanted to share this opportunity by writing about it today. Specifically, I know of many Counselors and Therapists who are frustrated by the limitations placed upon our professions partially in the VA system and completely in all Department of Defense military branches. Joining Give an Hour™ is one way we can do two things simultaneously:
1.Offer our services to Troops, their Families, and communities
2.Place ourselves alongside other mental health care professionals (who the VA and DoD recognize fully) and show that there is no need for competition—there is plenty of room for all of us to help others
In regard to why this happened, there is no simple answer. His brother’s van that Sencion used to drive to the IHOP had a Support the Troops sticker on it. No one had ever heard that he had anything against Troops—so while it appears he was targeting them, was he? The media has reported that Sencion “suffered from mental health issues” and “was heavily medicated.” Other reports say that family and acquaintances merely “hinted” that Sencion had “mental problems.” Could this indicate an explanation of why he ended up shooting and killing innocent people and himself? Maybe, maybe not. If mental illness was, in fact, a factor in the shooting, might this man have received different mental health care services to prevent this? Maybe, maybe not.
As we well know, any time an incident such as this occurs there is the potential for long-lasting effects upon those affected both directly and indirectly. Effects may be shown as anger, tears, nightmares, or loss of faith in humanity and safety, to list just a few. And it’s not just those involved directly in the shooting who may feel the aftereffects, but also families, friends and other members of the community.
In this incident, for example, the close-knit Nevada National Guard experienced more death of its members in a local IHOP restaurant than they had experienced in 10 years of service to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. One fellow Guardsman has been quoted as saying that this incident caused “his own sense of sacrifice and duty to fall apart” when he was “confronted with the terrible nature of humanity.” He also said that “the selflessness shown by Mock and Kelley” (2 of the Guardsmen who were injured in the shooting but who reacted quickly and helped in caring for others) “made him believe” that believing in humanity is, indeed, possible.
As professional Counselors and Therapists, we find ourselves in a unique position to support people during their difficult life events. We have the knowledge, experience, and humanity to help empower an individual through the time we spend together exploring their difficulties and the different aspects of this “mental health” everyone speaks so much about. Specifically, our profession seeks to CONNECT with people and not just hand them a prescription after a monthly 15-minute “session.” There is a need for our profession in our world today. Thank you, Professional Counselors and Therapists, for everything you do!
(If you are a fully-licensed professional and you would like to donate one hour a week to a Soldier and/or Family member and communities, please contact Give an Hour™. The Executive Director, Eric Rogers, is a Masters level Social Worker and a Veteran himself. I had the pleasure of working with Eric briefly at Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and he is a wonderful person and great to work with! He would love to include more ACA members/Licensed Counselors and Therapists in the network so if you’d like to join, go to www.giveanhour.org and click on “For Providers” for more information.)
Give an Hour™ information provided with permission from Eric Rogers, Executive Director. Media quotes and information taken from online versions of The Washington Post, RGJ.com, ABC World News, and CNN.
Natosha Monroe is a counselor and PhD candidate passionate about increasing Troop access to counseling services. Her blog contents are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense in any way.