In the hours and days following the Pulse nightclub shooting, helping those stricken with grief and trauma became one of the biggest challenges facing the city. Surviving victims struggled to cope with their injuries and the horror they had witnessed first hand. Families and friends that lost loved ones were suffering, too. And then there were the police officers and medical trauma teams that were first on scene.
So deeply affected by the events of that evening and in the days that followed that virtually every single person who had anything to do with the events of that night has needed counseling of some form to help cope with the impact of what happened.
Today, Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Florida Behavioral Health Conference in Orlando to recognize some of the men and women who were on the front lines providing grief and trauma counseling in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Scott awarded “Orlando Strong” medals to several people, including Keith Raskin, Donna Wyche, Vicki Garner, and Maria Bledsoe, among others, recognizing them for playing an instrumental role in organizing the response to the Pulse nightclub tragedy.
“After a tragedy like Pulse, of course there are the surviving victims, victim’s families, police and medical personnel that all need grief and trauma counseling,”said Garner, Chief Clinical Officer for Aspire Health Partners. “But this event was so awful, even the counselors need counseling.”
Speaking to a crowd of more than 1,200 that included behavior health experts, clinicians, law enforcement personnel and others, Scott mentioned his own family’s struggles with mental health and how those struggles shape his views as governor.
“My brother has struggled with alcoholism and manic depressive disorder his whole life,” Scott told the audience. “And so I really appreciate all that you do.”
The event, billed as “Florida’s premier behavioral health conference,” was sponsored by The Florida Council for Community Mental Health, and by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA).
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