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This post was co-written written by Liz Fielden, Associate and Diane Manwill, LPC, LMFT, LCPC-S, Senior Associate, Mental Health for Services to the Armed Forces department at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC. 

In the wake of yesterday’s tragic event at Ft. Hood, Texas, our hearts go out to all members of the military community stationed there. The Red Cross has staff members and volunteers who are permanently stationed at Ft. Hood, and that team is continuing to provide the support and services Ft. Hood military families rely on from the Red Cross. The local Red Cross chapter was also immediately on the scene, opening a shelter for families who live on the installation and were unable go home until the all-clear. Before the shelter closed, the Red Cross provided a meal and emotional support. The chapter remains on standby and is in close communication with the military, ready to help.

Volunteers loading supplies last night for the shelter.
Photo credit: @HOTRedCross

Unfortunately, traumatic events such as a shooting can have a significant and widespread impact. For a community that is still healing from the Ft. Hood shooting less than five years ago, military families based on other installations, or even the general public who have become overwhelmed with the countless shootings reported by the media, here are some normal reactions that people may experience following an incident like yesterday:

  • Worry and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble eating

Children may also struggle with their feelings and emotions when their sense of safety on the installation has been violated. They may also pick up on your distress and fear. Here are some common reactions found in children:

  • Clinginess
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or nightmares
  • Physical ailments

While each of these responses is normal, it is important to know what to look for in yourself and your child following traumatic events. However, there are things you can do to help begin the healing process. Below are some tips to help you and your children stay physically and mentally healthy:

  • Sleep and get enough rest
  • Eat healthy (even if you are not hungry)
  • Talk about it
  • Limit time spent watching the news
  • Maintain a routine
  • Exercise

For more information on how to help you and your family cope with this tragedy, here are some additional helpful mental health resources:

 

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