More than a decade after the Virginia Tech mass shooting, survivors and victims’ families continue to take action to help others across the country.
Some survivors and victims’ loved ones launched VTVCare, a non-profit movement dedicated to supporting mass shooting survivors with long-term, trauma-related care.
“We know that’s a long journey. It doesn’t end a year or two after the shooting,” said Joe Samaha, the president of VTVCare. "There is a lot of mending to go on either physical or psychological.”
His daughter, Reema, was one of the 32 people killed in the Virginia Tech shooting.
Thanks to a fund set up by the state, Virginia Tech shooting survivors and victims’ families have always received reimbursements for counseling or care that wasn’t covered by insurance.
Now some of them want to offer similar long-term help to others across the country who’ve been impacted by mass shootings.
“It’s not only sympathy — its empathy,” Samaha said. “We have been there. It’s victim-to-victim care.”
Michael Morales is one of the first recipients of the financial assistance. He was wounded in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. His partner was killed.
“It has been like the most horrible thing any human being can experience because it’s something that changed your life completely,” Morales said.
Multiple leg surgeries have left Morales unable to return to work as a nurse. He’s currently going to graduate school, but expenses mounted.
“I felt like 5 years later no one is going to help me anymore,” Morales said.
But VTVCare has helped, giving him a grant to ease the financial strain.
The non-profit’s goal is to raise enough money to create a million-dollar endowment — a fund big enough to be able to provide at least $50,000 each year in help.
“It gives you a sense of, ‘I know how you feel, and I want to help you,’” Morales said. “That’s the feeling I received from Joe and the foundation.”