Navy sets up multiple avenues for survivors, employees to get help

Wednesday - 9/18/2013, 6:02am EDT

Jason Miller interviews Ed Cannon, the Navy's director of fleet and family readiness program.

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The Navy has deployed its rapid response team to help the employees, contractors and families affected by the mass shooting at the Navy Yard Monday.

Uniformed, civilian and contract workers can find help through a wide range of services, including counselors, chaplains and human resources experts.

"We are fully aware that this tragedy will hit people very hard. It's already hit them very hard," said Ed Cannon, the Navy's director of fleet and family readiness program, in an interview with Federal News Radio. "The first thing we did is stood up an emergency family assistance center. What that means to the layman is we pulled all of our resources together to include our fleet and family services center counselors, which are licensed clinicians, chaplains and what we call the Navy Sprint team, which is a special psychiatric rapid intervention team. And this cadre of professionals are able to flex to the needs our customers."

Cannon said the Navy stationed the sprint team at Joint Base Anacostia Boiling immediately after the attack that killed 13 people on Monday. Starting Wednesday, the service will expand the number of professionals and move them to the Navy Yard.

"We are not just waiting for them to come to us, but we are going to their offices. We are talking to their leaders. We will be going to provide training to supervisors to know what to look for and make sure our employees know it doesn't matter whether they are active duty, civilian or contractor — this is one Navy," he said. "We have a saying in the Navy. We say one team one fight. This is a great example. When something like this happens, it doesn't matter whether you are active duty, civilian or contractor, we need to help you and that's what we are here for."

The Navy Yard is open to only essential personnel Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. But all others are able to enter the base also starting at 9 a.m. to pick up cars, cell phones or any other personal belongings, and then are to leave.

Cannon said everyone who comes onto the base tomorrow will receive a card with information about the services available that they can take advantage of immediately or whenever they are ready.

The Navy also set up a website and phone number to help employees and family members if they need to talk to someone.

"The people manning the phones are also clinicians or will patch you into a clinician or if you want to talk to a chaplain, we can also help you that way as well," Cannon said. "When I use the words comprehensive approach and I was talking about counselors, that really is only one piece of it. The other piece is our personnel folks, our human resources professionals, they are also available and will be providing information to any victims or any other people who want to know about their employee benefits. That is also part of the overall approach."

Cannon said the Navy built the fleet and family readiness centers to help take care of those sailors, civilians or contractors who needed it over the decades.

He said the Navy has taken recent lessons from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or the Fort Hood shooting and applied them to their approach.

One example, he said, is to pool resources from the local area to meet their needs.

"If we need more counselors, we have people at the ready from Norfolk, Va., from the whole southeast region, and we have contracts in place that give us the ability to flex to the needs," Cannon said. "It's really a combination of taking care of our sailors and understanding that when I say sailors, we are talking civilian sailors, contract sailors. It is truly one team."

Cannon said the website, www.cnic.navy.mil and phone number 1-855 -677-1755 are available now for employees and families looking for help.

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