VTV Family Outreach Foundation http://www.vtvfamilyfoundation.org Making an impact in school safety Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:06:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Foundation to plant trees to memorialize Virginia Tech shooting victims /2406-2/ Sat, 28 Apr 2018 22:11:50 +0000 /?p=2406 This article was originally published by Alexandria Times on April 28, 2018 The Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation is planting the first phase of its memorial tree grove at Chinquapin Park on Sunday to commemorate victims and survivors of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. The shooting marked its 11-year anniversary on April 16. The shooting, […]

The post Foundation to plant trees to memorialize Virginia Tech shooting victims appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]> This article was originally published by Alexandria Times on April 28, 2018

The Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation is planting the first phase of its memorial tree grove at Chinquapin Park on Sunday to commemorate victims and survivors of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech.

The shooting marked its 11-year anniversary on April 16. The shooting, carried out by a lone assailant, killed 32 students and 24 injuries.

The VTV Foundation chose Alexandria for the project because of the city’s own brush with tragedy at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in June 2017, as well as Virginia Tech’s graduate school in the city and the city’s plan to increase its tree canopy.

The grove at the park will be located across from the community gardens and in close proximity to T.C. Williams High School.

Mayor Allison Silberberg, Virginia Tech Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Nathan Heavers, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Virginia Del. Chris Hurst (D-12) will be featured speakers at the event. Megan Beyer, wife of Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), will also attend the event.

The foundation, initiated by families of victims and survivors, was created to prevent mass shootings through education, advocacy and support, according to a news release. One of its major goals is to strengthen the national background check system.

A fundraiser at Taverna Restaurant in Old Town will follow the event.

The post Foundation to plant trees to memorialize Virginia Tech shooting victims appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
‘Something About Parkland Has Been Different’: Survivors From 20 Years of Mass Shootings Speak /something-about-parkland-has-been-different-survivors-from-20-years-of-mass-shootings-speak/ Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:19:32 +0000 /?p=2409 The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month was the latest in what seems like an inescapable pattern to proponents of gun safety: gunfire, thoughts and prayers, funerals and public mourning, until the next time. But the survivors of past shootings say that the students in Parkland have given them hope. Many […]

The post ‘Something About Parkland Has Been Different’: Survivors From 20 Years of Mass Shootings Speak appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month was the latest in what seems like an inescapable pattern to proponents of gun safety: gunfire, thoughts and prayers, funerals and public mourning, until the next time.

But the survivors of past shootings say that the students in Parkland have given them hope.

Many of those students will be in Washington on Saturday leading the March for Our Lives demonstration. We spoke this week to a tiny sampling of the thousands of people whose lives have been affected by past mass shootings.

Read the full article on the New York Times Website

The post ‘Something About Parkland Has Been Different’: Survivors From 20 Years of Mass Shootings Speak appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Town Hall Reflects on Gun Violence at Schools & Prospective Solutions /town-hall-reflects-on-gun-violence-at-schools-prospective-solutions/ Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:39:16 +0000 /?p=2425 This article was originally published on Falls Church News Press A crowd of 1300 attended a town hall meeting with U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) in addition to featured speaker Fred Guttenberg at T.C. Williams High School on March 7. Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime in the mass shooting at Marjory […]

The post Town Hall Reflects on Gun Violence at Schools & Prospective Solutions appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>

This article was originally published on Falls Church News Press

A crowd of 1300 attended a town hall meeting with U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) in addition to featured speaker Fred Guttenberg at T.C. Williams High School on March 7. Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. this past February.

The event was hosted by Alexandria Public Schools’ Department of Communication in conjunction with the congressional staffs of Beyer and Deutch.

“When we see the students in Parkland, we see our classmates, we see our friends and we see ourselves. As students it is critical to speak out for gun reform because those gun reforms might save our lives,” said Jay Falk who introduced the speakers alongside Hannah Miller.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the community I represent,” said Deutch whose congressional district included Parkland. “The response from people around the country has been remarkable and it’s been remarkable in part because of interaction between people like you and the incredible student survivors who have taken the lead in changing this discussion in a profound way. Who have simply pointed out what all of us know which is number one weapons of war do not belong in our communities.”

In his headlining speech, Guttenberg spoke with a measured sense of ferocity as he recounted the events leading up to his daughter Jaime’s death and spoke of his new resolve to prevent such an event from happening again.

“Every time one of these incidents happens, the conversation afterwards is way too polite, way too comfortable and way too temporary. I will always be respectful, [but] I have no need to be polite. I want to make people uncomfortable when we talk about it and I’m not going away. This will never be temporary,” Guttenberg said to much applause.

“My daughter was just murdered, or as some in the the pro gun community liked to say – guns are for hunting – my daughter was hunted at school,” said Guttenberg. He then described his daughter’s last moments “running down an active shooter until ‘boom’ — a single shot to her back severed her spinal cord.”

Guttenberg directed most of his anger for the gun lobby and resolved to break them.

“Anyone who has a legislator who won’t vote for your safety, you need to fire them,” he said.

“I happen to believe in the second amendment, just not the bastardized version presented by the gun lobby and the lawmakers who follow it,” said Guttenberg. “Unfortunately this bastardized version has led to these weapons of war being widely available and as a result, my daughter has been murdered. She had rights as well, as well as a right to life and a right to believe in the second amendment.”

The open floor session was illustrative of just how much advocacy had already been organized in response to gun violence including a sea of red in the crowd from the t-shirt-donning Moms Demand Action advocacy group that started the day after the Sandy Hook Massacre. Additionally, representatives from The Northern Virginia Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Family Foundation, Women Against Violence Epidemic and several self-organized student groups made their voice heard at the microphone.

“I’ve witnessed so many shootings come and go with no real change. Though this time seems different, I want my elected officials to dedicate themselves to this moment, especially engaging with young people like me,” said high school student Barrett Fife of Alexandria who asked the legislators about concrete actions. Fife, 17, co-founded a group called DMV Students Demand Action in recent weeks.

The school-age students attending represented a wide age range with some even coming from elementary schools. Naomi Walder from George Mason Elementary in Alexandria said her school was planning a walk out. Not all students reported success in their plans in activism. Two students from McLean High School spoke of administrators blocking their plans to stage a walk-out and rally.

Another notable speaker was Kate Ranta, who holds the rare distinction of having been a shooting victim in Parkland before the mass shooting this past February.

In 2012, she and her father had been shot twice by an ex-husband (both survived) while her 4-year-old son witnessed the encounter.

“The irony is that had I stayed in Parkland, my son would have been attending the elementary school right down the street from Douglas,” said Ranta who currently resides in Alexandria.

“I’d like to thank Fred Guttenberg for his immediate bravery and advocacy to stop gun violence all while mourning his beautiful daughter,” she said. “And I’m here to tell you that I’ve been in this fight for 5 years, I stand with you and  I’m not going away either… I’ve been in it for five years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Ranta co-founded Women Against Violence Epidemic and used her speaking time to declare her intention to run for office in Alexandria. Like many others, Ranta was full of praise for Beyer for his work on the gun safety issue.

Beyer is a lead legislator on the proposed Gun Violence Restraining Order Act and an original cosponsor on the Assault Weapons Ban in addition to other bills.

Gutenberg expressed confidence in the power of adolescents to keep the movement alive. Despite expressing a desire to limit questions at the post-town-hall press conference due to the exhaustion of his travel schedule, he granted a final question to the T.C. Williams video news crew and enthusiastically gave them his support.

“I’m more optimistic than I ever was,“ said Guttenberg. “I always thought these kids live on their cell phone, but these kids use their cell phone as a weapon. They are driving a message that the rest of the country is listening to.”

In addition to the much-publicized March for Our Lives that will be taking place in Washington D.C. on March 24, the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Brady Campaign advertised at the meeting that they will be holding a vigil at the headquarters of the NRA in Vienna, Virginia on the 14th of every month to commemorate Parkland.

The post Town Hall Reflects on Gun Violence at Schools & Prospective Solutions appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Parents of Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech shooting victims to Parkland: ‘Be there for each other’ /parents-of-sandy-hook-and-virginia-tech-shooting-victims-to-parkland-be-there-for-each-other/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 23:46:26 +0000 /?p=2411 This article was origionally published on Sun Sentinel he questions are endless, and relentless. How am I going to survive this? Will my family, my husband, my wife, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother ever be OK again? Should I get out of bed? Should we sell the house and move? What will […]

The post Parents of Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech shooting victims to Parkland: ‘Be there for each other’ appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
This article was origionally published on Sun Sentinel

he questions are endless, and relentless.

How am I going to survive this? Will my family, my husband, my wife, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother ever be OK again? Should I get out of bed? Should we sell the house and move? What will happen when school reopens? Should it reopen? Will the reporters ever stop calling? Should I talk to them? What should I say? What can I say? Who can I trust? Where will we be in a day, a week, a month, a year? Will the tears ever stop? How many more funerals can I take?

Joe Samaha and Nicole Hockley know these questions all too well. They know that these questions are likely roaring through the heads of survivors and families of people killed in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They also know that answers can be elusive and, in many cases, nonexistent. Samaha’s 18-year-old daughter, Reema, was one of 32 people killed by a gunman on April 16, 2007 on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va. She was a freshman at the university. Hockley’s 6-year-old son, Dylan, was one of 26 people shot to death on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children, all 7 years old or younger, and six members of the school’s faculty died in the attack.

Today, Samaha is the president of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., and created by families of victims and survivors of the shooting at Virginia Tech. The foundation’s mission is, as stated on its website, “to prevent Virginia Tech-type shootings through education and advocacy; to employ comprehensive educational efforts to expand community and student awareness of campus safety issues; and to offer compassion, support, and hope to those affected by violence.”

This week, Samaha told the Sun Sentinel, “My focus is on the families of the victims and the survivors and first responders who have to deal with this [shooting in Parkland]. … I told our executive director that this is our total focus for two to three days.”

Hockley co-founded and works as managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Newtown that works toward preventing gun violence through education in, as Hockley says, “those days, weeks, months, years before someone decides to pick up a firearm and hurt someone else or themselves.”

On Friday morning, while stopping for breakfast in Coral Springs between national-media interviews and meetings with Broward County officials, Hockley discussed what all of us can do to help the Stoneman Douglas shooting’s survivors and families navigate the difficult times ahead.

“Everybody’s path is going to be very different and unique, and they need to be respected in that path and the choices that they make,” Hockley says. “Grief can express itself in so many ways and cycle through multiple points during the day: shock, denial, anger, blame, sadness. And really, in my opinion, the best way is to follow their lead and listen more than talk. And just be there.”

Here are excerpts from our conversations with Samaha and Hockley.

JOE SAMAHA, PRESIDENT OF VTV FAMILY OUTREACH FOUNDATION

I will tell you there is a path. There are multiple paths. It just depends on which one these families will take. Some will go home and turn out the light and do nothing. But their immediate focus right now is, “What [clothes] are we going to put on our children to bury them?”

There is today, tomorrow and 20 years from now. That’s some of the stuff that we thought about, that some of our families had the ability to think about: “What is going to happen to my brain 20 years from now?” Let me tell you: It’s never the same, neither the heart nor the brain.

The long-term care is what’s really needed. That’s the message I want to put out there. It’s not only about the immediate needs. It’s about the long-term care that these families are going to need and these survivors are going to need.

Everybody has their own time, and I put “time” in caps. Some will want to be left alone. Some will want to talk. Some will say, “My focus is on my child or my mom or my dad, spouse.” They need time.

Here’s one thing that really helps, which was our idea as victims in that room at Virginia Tech where we were asked to be every day for updates and reports and so forth. The biggest one was “We need positive ID.” “OK, that’s a silly question. You’ve got keys to the dorm rooms. Why don’t you just go and get that? Why are you even asking me? Why are you bothering me?” It was so chaotic that people were duplicating work and activities.

If I can suggest one thing: Every family member needs to be appointed a liaison person. That means one person needs to be a victim’s assistant or advocate, and that’s who they advocate for, and everything gets funneled through that person. The family needs to learn to trust those persons. That is the most important. You have 17 families [in Parkland]. You need 17 people to be their advocate.

All the police, EMT, all the coroner stuff — all should be channeled to the liaison person. That would establish some organization. It brings some organization to the chaos. Otherwise, the families don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do. They are going to be focused unfortunately on burying their loved one. There’s a lot of stuff happening, and people want to pull on you, and police want more information and want to interview you, and that’s stuff they may not be able to handle right now. If they need immediate answers, they may have to wait a week or two.

NICOLE HOCKLEY, FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SANDY HOOK PROMISE

In my experience, I’m guessing [the families] have no idea what they really need right now. And sometimes, the ones who need the most are the ones who don’t ask for it. So try to anticipate their needs. Anything that can clear the way for services, and not all services will work for everyone. A therapy dog may be great for one family and completely wrong for another family. So offering multiple modes and ideas can help. I’m focusing in on the families of loss in that, but there are so many other families that are going to be traumatized. The ripple effects of grief and trauma — you can’t underestimate that in a community. And some people will feel, “Well, I shouldn’t ask for help because I didn’t lose someone.” And I just think, you know what, everyone lost something in your community. Accept that everyone’s going to be traumatized in some way, and be there for each other.

Also accept the differences that come about. In my experience, again, after a tragedy, people come together very quickly because of a shared outrage, shared loss, and they want to do something. And just as quickly, people will decide there are different things they want to do, and that can cause fractures. All I can say there is just allow that to happen and respect every person’s individual choice and voice. Because no one’s right, and no one’s wrong. This is where you follow the lead from the people and just be there for them and protect them. Definitely protect them. Because they have a long journey ahead, and it doesn’t get easier.

I’m just here to be of service. If there is anything that I can do to help, I want to do it. I know every experience is unique, like I said, but I have some semblance of understanding what they’re going through. There is no playbook for this in terms of: How do you handle that number of funerals? How do you handle going back to the school? How do you handle the media? How do you handle some of the ugly parts that come out? How do you handle donations? There’s no book to follow, and I think connections to other people who’ve experienced this from other tragedies, or from Sandy Hook, can be useful as guideposts for people here in terms of, “Well, this is what happened that we weren’t expecting, and this is how we handled it. Perhaps this is something that you want to try.” Communication to the families, for example. How do they receive information? How often do they receive information? Who’s giving them information? Who is the trusted point of contact?

I think I first met other survivor families, victim families, one month after the shooting [in Newtown]. And I don’t even know if that was too early. Because it was useful, on the one hand, to be able to share that space with someone who’d experienced this before me. I could look at them and say, “OK, there is a path. I’m going to survive this. I’m going to get through this.” But even at that point, looking at them and saying, “That is not what I want. This isn’t the path that I’ve chosen,” can be shocking in its own way.

There were some who said, “You know, this is what’s likely to happen next.” And there were useful parts. Then, there were others where I thought, “I don’t want to know about some of the potential issues that are going to come up. Or, I do, but not at this time. I just want to know that I’m going to make it. That my family’s going to be OK. That my surviving son’s going to be OK. And not think about all the problems along the way.” I think there’s a time and a place. We’re what — two days after [the Parkland shooting]? Far too soon. I would think that the families just need space, privacy and the love of the people who are their support network around them.

Be kind to each other. You do have a long journey ahead.

The post Parents of Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech shooting victims to Parkland: ‘Be there for each other’ appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Families of Virginia Tech shooting share sympathy with Las Vegas /families-of-virginia-tech-shooting-share-sympathy-with-las-vegas/ Tue, 03 Oct 2017 23:28:29 +0000 /?p=2418 This article was origionally published on WTOP.com WASHINGTON — As the nation grapples with the shock and anguish caused by the Las Vegas shootings, family members from the Virginia Tech shootings have particular compassion for the lives lost, the survivors and their families. “Our families understand how horrible such a thing can be and they’re […]

The post Families of Virginia Tech shooting share sympathy with Las Vegas appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
This article was origionally published on WTOP.com

WASHINGTON — As the nation grapples with the shock and anguish caused by the Las Vegas shootings, family members from the Virginia Tech shootings have particular compassion for the lives lost, the survivors and their families.

“Our families understand how horrible such a thing can be and they’re extremely sympathetic to the families who are going through this now,” said Paul Friedman, executive director, Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech, in which a gunman killed 32 people. At the time, it was the nation’s worst mass shooting, but would be surpassed by the Orlando Night Club shootings in 2016 and now the attack in Las Vegas.

“There’s going to be a ripple effect that’s going to be wide from this experience, and it’s one that’s going to leave a very, very deep mark on our society,” Friedman said.

The Virginia Tech families group is working on an effort it calls Campaign 32. It wants the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to include the names of all individuals who have been legally found to be a danger to themselves or others and who were committed for psychiatric treatment.

“We don’t know enough about the details of the tragedy in Las Vegas, but it’s clear that it would have prevented the tragedy in Virginia Tech and it may well prevent other tragedies,” Friedman said.

The post Families of Virginia Tech shooting share sympathy with Las Vegas appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
A Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor Remembers the College Massacre 10 Years Later /virginia-tech-shooting-survivor-remembers-college-massacre-10-years-later/ Wed, 12 Jul 2017 19:16:05 +0000 /?p=2086   For Virginia Tech student Colin Goddard, April 16, 2007, started out like any other Monday, with no sign that it was “going to be the craziest experience” of his life. That changed with the sound of gunfire early that spring morning on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The bullets signaled the spread of a shooting rampage […]

The post A Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor Remembers the College Massacre 10 Years Later appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
People Logo

 

For Virginia Tech student Colin Goddard, April 16, 2007, started out like any other Monday, with no sign that it was “going to be the craziest experience” of his life.

That changed with the sound of gunfire early that spring morning on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The bullets signaled the spread of a shooting rampage by 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior Seung-Hui Cho — who gunned down 32 people and wounded 17 others before turning the gun on himself.

Six more people were injured when they jumped out of windows to escape his fire.

Sparking yet another intense round in the debate about guns in America, the Virginia Tech massacre, as it came to be known, was at the time the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Last year it was surpassed by a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people, not including the gunman.

• Watch the full episode of 10 Years Later: The Virginia Tech Massacre, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

“For some, 10 years will [still] be as significant as it was 10 years ago,” Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said recently, according to WTOP.

The university’s Day of Remembrance events this year began on Friday and will be held through Sunday, which marks the anniversary of the violence.

Sunday’s events include the lighting of a ceremonial candle, at midnight, at the April 16 Memorial, followed by a wreath laying later in the morning and a full reading of the biographies of the 32 victims who were killed.

The commemoration will end with an evening candlelight vigil at midnight, when the ceremonial candle from the memorial is carried back to Burruss Hall.

The flame is more than just a symbol: School spokesman Owczarski said that over the past 10 years, the Virginia Tech community has been “so important in terms of providing comfort, in terms of providing support and in trying to find that ability to continue in the darkest of times.”

Police respond to the Virginia Tech campus during a mass shooting there on April 16, 2007.
THE ROANOKE TIMES/MATT GENTRY/AP

Bloodshed in Room 211

For Colin Goddard, now 31, the darkness came unexpectedly. On that crisp April morning in 2007, as he recalls in a new anniversary special for the People/Entertainment Weekly Network, he headed to his 9:05 a.m. intermediate French class in Norris Hall, with Madame Couture.

He was late, “as usual.”

After settling into a back corner of room 211, Goddard learned that there had been a shooting in a dorm earlier. Fellow student Rachel Hill came to class from the scene, arriving even later than he did.

“We thought, ‘[They] let her go to class,’ ” Goddard says. “Things must be okay.”

In reality, Cho, the shooter, had already fired on two students on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall about two hours earlier that morning.

Cho returned to his dorm room before heading to Norris Hall a little more than two hours later, chaining shut the building’s massive wooden doors.

And then:

“It was only a few minutes after that that we heard this weird banging noise coming from what seemed to be outside the building,” Goddard says. “Seconds later, that bang got much louder and much closer. As soon as we heard that, the teacher’s expression dropped. She looked very concerned.”

Their professor, “Madame” Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, peeked out the door, shut it and ordered everyone under their desks.

Moments later, as Goddard called 911, “We had bullets coming through the front of our classroom,” he says.

Virginia Tech students gather to mourn in the wake of a mass shooting on April 16, 2007.
THE ROANOKE TIMES/SAM DEAN/AP

Covered partially by a desk, Goddard saw a figure enter the room’s only door wearing combat boots, khaki pants and a white shirt with two holsters crossed over his shoulders.

Goddard thought it was a police officer — until the man turned down the row of desks where he and other students had tried to hide.

“Seconds later, I felt like I had been kicked as hard as I have been kicked in my leg, above my knee,” Goddard says.

He’d been hit.

After a “warm, wet feeling,” he felt “a sharp burning feeling — and then everything went numb from head to toe. I realized: I just got shot. This is really happening. This is real.”

The gunman left and then returned to their classroom, shooting Goddard again (twice in the hips and once in the shoulder) and killing 12 people, including Hill and Madame Couture.

The last time the shooter returned to room 211, he shot himself.

The violence felt like it lasted for hours, Goddard remembers in the PEN special. “I was shocked that it was only nine-and-a-half minutes.”

Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard speaks in 2012.
CHRIS MADDALONI/CQ ROLL CALL/AP

Becoming a Lifelong Advocate

Before the massacre, Goddard says he was a typical college student trying to figure out what to do with his life.

“The shooting changed all of that and really gave me focus and direction,” he tells PEN. “I spent my life since then trying to advocate for better gun laws.”

Married, with a child of his own — and with three bullets still lodged inside his body — Goddard has become a vocal advocate for gun violence prevention: He worked for the Brady Campaign for three years and then joined Everytown for Gun Safety.

He was also the focus of the 2010 documentary Living for 32, about how easy it is to get a gun in America without a background check. In it, he reflected on his survival and his work afterward.

“I will always believe I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Click here for more information about how Virginia Tech is commemorating the anniversary of the 2007 mass shooting.

And click here to contact your Congressional representatives to learn what is being done about gun violence in America — and to share what you think we should be doing.

The post A Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor Remembers the College Massacre 10 Years Later appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Ten Years Later, Every State Must Fully Participate /ten-years-later-every-state-must-fully-participate/ Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:22:35 +0000 /?p=2078     by Progressive Voice  April 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com. By Paul Friedman Although it is a tragedy that remains fresh in […]

The post Ten Years Later, Every State Must Fully Participate appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>

ARL Now

 

 

by Progressive Voice  April 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Paul Friedman

Although it is a tragedy that remains fresh in our minds, this week will mark 10 years since the shootings at Virginia Tech that cost the lives of 32 people, physically injured at least 24 others and traumatized many more.

One day after the April 16, 2007, tragedy — having traveled back overnight from a trade mission to Japan, then-Gov. Tim Kaine (D) spoke movingly to the Virginia Tech community at the memorial convocation on campus:

“There are deep emotions that are called forth by a tragedy as significant as this; grieving and sadness by the boatload,” he said. “Anne and I have unashamedly shed tears about this and I know virtually all of you have as well.”

Kaine added that anger is a natural reaction. He observed that there is anger at the gunman and the circumstance.

Then he asked a fateful question: “What could have been done different?”

It was not long after he spoke these words that Kaine did figure out what could have been done. The shooter should not have been able to buy the two guns he was able to purchase.

Although the shooter had been found by a court to be a danger to himself, he wasn’t entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because he was receiving outpatient – and not inpatient – mental health treatment.

After hearing from some of the family members and survivors of the shootings and consulting with Virginia’s Attorney General, Kaine issued an Executive Order to clarify when a report to NICS is required. At its next opportunity, with the support of the groups including the National Rifle Association, the Republican-dominated Virginia General Assembly supported his action with legislation.

Family members of those who were killed as well as survivors and their families continued their work and helped to pass a federal law providing funds to incentivize states to set up a system that would ensure their full participation in NICS. That would mean states submitting the names of every person found to be a danger to themselves or others and committed for treatment. Once entered, those people would be barred from being able to buy a gun from a licensed dealer.

Over the years since the Virginia Tech shootings, the Brady Campaign, the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and, notably, the NRA and the National Shootings Sports Foundation, have been working to achieve this goal and have been making progress.

As well, it’s a goal supported by our nation’s largest mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Yet the job is far from complete.

That’s why, in connection with the 10th commemoration of the worst mass murder on an American college campus, the Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation – the independent non-profit formed by affected families and survivors of the Virginia Tech tragedy — is making this issue our top priority.

That’s also why we have decided to move to the forefront of the fight. After all, our story is the best known reason for why this must be done.

While Virginia is now an example of a state that has made progress, there are a number of others, including Maryland, Ohio, and Massachusetts for example, that could be doing far better or are not engaged at all.

Moreover, it is simply unknown right now how many states are submitting the names of people who have been ordered to get outpatient treatment, which constitute the bulk of commitments due to a lack of inpatient facilities.

Campaign 32, named for the 32 who were killed at Virginia Tech, will do the research and advocacy to get the job done. Together with people who want to join in this effort, we can make real, measurable and meaningful change. To make your voice heard, please donate $32 or more at www.campaign32.org!

Paul Friedman is a long time resident of Northern Virginia and is serving as the Executive Director of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

The post Ten Years Later, Every State Must Fully Participate appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Preventing Another Virginia Tech /preventing-another-virginia-tech/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 23:35:49 +0000 /?p=2423 This article was origionally published on BaltimoreSun.com Ten years ago, on April 16, 2007, a college student — who had been adjudicated a danger to himself in a court of law — bought two guns, went to his campus and committed two rounds of shootings in one morning. The Virginia Tech shootings cost the lives of 32 […]

The post Preventing Another Virginia Tech appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
This article was origionally published on BaltimoreSun.com

Ten years ago, on April 16, 2007, a college student — who had been adjudicated a danger to himself in a court of law — bought two guns, went to his campus and committed two rounds of shootings in one morning.

The Virginia Tech shootings cost the lives of 32 people, physically injured at least 24 others, and traumatized hundreds more. The first two people were killed about two hours before the remaining 30.

Police forces and the university have learned from the events of that day, and I believe that police forces and colleges are far better prepared to be responsive today than they were then, largely as a result of this heart-wrenching tragedy.

However, there is still more that we as a society can and should do to prevent another such monstrous event. We need to make sure that every person in America who has been adjudicated a danger to themselves or others is barred from being able to buy a gun.

Before you tune out, thinking this is just another gun control appeal, know this: The NRAagrees. Over the years since the Virginia Tech shootings, the NRA, the National Shootings Sports Foundation, the Brady Campaign and the now-called Everytown for Gun Safety have been working to achieve this goal — and making progress. As well, it’s a goal supported by our nation’s largest mental health organization: NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet, the job is far from complete.

That’s why, in connection with the 10th commemoration of the worst mass murder on an American college campus, the independent non-profit formed by the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings and the survivors — the Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation — is making this issue our top priority by launching Campaign 32.

All the above groups have been working for years to get the states to enter those names into our National Instant Criminal Background Check System. While most states are now doing so to some degree, many are failing to do so fully, and some are not doing so at all. We must change that.

As one of the survivors of the Virginia Tech shootings — who still has bullets lodged in his body — has said about this, “A background check system is only as good as the records it contains — and my personal experience is proof of this fact.”

The FBI reports that over the past 17 years more than 27,000 people have been blocked from buying a gun due to being entered into the system under the category, “Adjudicated Mental Health.” No doubt, over that same period, many people who should not have been able to purchase a gun did so. That must stop.

We can’t bring back the lives that have been lost or harmed, but we can try to make America better.

Paul Friedman is the executive director of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation and a lawyer who brings his experience as a prior congressional staffer, campaign manager and fundraiser for nonprofit charities and political organizations to VTV to help prevent Virginia Tech-type shootings through education and advocacy. He can be reached at pfriedman@vtvfamilyfoundation.org.

The post Preventing Another Virginia Tech appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
Survivors, victims’ families fight to prevent another VT attack /survivors-victims-families-fight-to-prevent-another-vt-attack/ Sun, 16 Apr 2017 23:22:31 +0000 /?p=2416 This article was originally published on WTOP.com WASHINGTON — Sunday is not only Easter, but also the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. For the past 10 years, even while dealing with their own pain and loss, the families of the victims and survivors of the shootings have been fighting to save the lives […]

The post Survivors, victims’ families fight to prevent another VT attack appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
This article was originally published on WTOP.com

WASHINGTON — Sunday is not only Easter, but also the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.

For the past 10 years, even while dealing with their own pain and loss, the families of the victims and survivors of the shootings have been fighting to save the lives of others.

“Obviously, the Virginia Tech experience sent a shock wave through America,” said Paul Friedman, executive director of the Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation.

Friedman is in Blacksburg for the anniversary.

“This is an extremely difficult time for the families of the victims and the survivors who have to relive this experience,” he said.

The foundation was created in June 2007 to care for the survivors and family members left behind. But the foundation continues to grow.

Friedman said it’s dedicated to preventing another Virginia Tech shooting from happening.

“Our organization has spent years working to try to help colleges create safer environments,” he said.

The group also advocates for stronger campus safety.

Friedman said a great deal has changed since the VT shootings, but the most dramatic change since has been the text alert system.

The VT mass shooting — which killed 32, injured more than 24 and traumatized many more — remains the largest shooting at a college campus in American history.

Friedman said the foundation has changed the whole dynamic of college safety. Even the design of doors in campus buildings has changed. He said that’s to prevent people from being chained in the way the VT shooter chained the door at Norris Hall to prevent people from escaping.

Ten-years-out, foundation members are still committed to saving other families from going through a tragedy like Virginia Tech.

This month, the foundation is launching Campaign 32.

The 32 represents the number of lives that were lost on that day.

Friedman said the idea behind Campaign 32 is to get every state and D.C. fully involved. The goal is to get them to enter the names into law enforcement’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System if a person has been deemed a danger to themselves or to others and has been committed for mental health treatment — whether that is inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. He said that goes to the heart of what happened at VT.

According to Friedman, the VT shooter had been committed for treatment, but it was outpatient treatment, so his name was not entered into the system.

That meant there were no red flags when he bought the guns used in the tragedy.

The shooter also made a mental health appointment but never went.

“Unfortunately the Virginia State Police didn’t enter his name into the system. They felt since he was receiving outpatient treatment that he didn’t qualify. We need to send the names not just people who’ve been committed to treatment in a facility, but also outpatient treatment, as well. This is a critical area and we believe we can make real progress in this area,” Friedman said.

Since the VT shooting, Virginia law has changed fixing this loophole. It requires all the names be entered into the system.

Friedman said the foundation is dedicated to making sure every state gets those names into the system.

“We want to prevent another tragedy like ours.”

He also said the foundation has broad support on both sides of the aisle.

“Not only the Brady Campaign, we also have the NRA and the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) supporting this mission. It’s a big mission and it’s going to require a lot of help.”

Suicides are another major concern.

“That’s also something that’s prevented when the names of people who’ve been found to be a danger to themselves are entered into the background check system. It sends up an alert if they go to purchase a gun,” Friedman said.

Thousands of people were at at Virginia Tech over the weekend to mourn the passing of 32 people. Both students and professors were killed on April 16, 2007.

“One professor was a Holocaust survivor he barred the door to the classroom he was in and was killed while doing so, while students jumped out the second story window. But that’s only one of the many brave acts by the people who died. In fact, truly they were all heroes in their efforts to protect one another and survive this experience, such a horrific experience,” Friedman said.

But Friedman noted that the foundation is not a “gun control group.”

“We really want to focus on the behavior,” he said. “We want to focus on the fact that we can cross the political spectrum and have everyone to try and come together to solve this really basic problem, which is troubled people who are determined to get access to weapons.”

He said the foundation continues to care about college safety and about those who’ve been traumatized by mass gun violence.

“We remain involved in working on those issues and we’ll continue to make contributions in those areas,” Friedman said.

The foundation deploys teams to support victims of violence. And everything the foundation members do is all in honor of those 32 lives lost on that tragic day 10 years ago.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

The post Survivors, victims’ families fight to prevent another VT attack appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
CUPIC Conference, August 2-5, 2016 /cupic-conference-august-2-5-2016/ Wed, 06 Jul 2016 16:44:23 +0000 /?p=1986 College and University Police and Investigators Conference (CUPIC) August 2-5, 2016 Fairview Park Marriott Falls Church, VA The George Mason University Police Department is hosting the Eleventh Annual College and University Police and Investigators Conference (CUPIC) in Falls Church, Virginia. This conference focuses on unique aspects of law enforcement and security needs for Colleges and […]

The post CUPIC Conference, August 2-5, 2016 appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>
CUPIC-logo-1000x500.png

College and University Police and Investigators Conference (CUPIC)

August 2-5, 2016

Fairview Park Marriott

Falls Church, VA

The George Mason University Police Department is hosting the Eleventh Annual College and University Police and Investigators Conference (CUPIC) in Falls Church, Virginia. This conference focuses on unique aspects of law enforcement and security needs for Colleges and Universities. The conference provides a perfect setting for law enforcement and security personnel to come together and participate in topics and breakout sessions that will be concentrated on college and university level crime and public safety related issues. The location for this year’s conference will be held at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia from August 2 through August 5. More information on the program will be made available shortly.

Every year, CUPIC has been a huge success with agencies attending from across the U.S. and abroad. We encourage you to come take part in this year’s wonderful opportunity to network with high level decision makers from the Higher Education Law Enforcement and Public Safety Profession from around the country

Learn more at http://cupic.gmu.edu

 

The post CUPIC Conference, August 2-5, 2016 appeared first on VTV Family Outreach Foundation.

]]>