ROANOKE, Va. – On Thursday, Roanoke city leaders announced the latest efforts to address gun violence.
Three organizations have received $550,000 in state and federal funding to help treat gun violence patients even after discharge from hospital, relocate gun violence victims, and provide mental health services
“This funding is so important to our community as we continue to fight gun violence,” said Mayor Sherman Lea.
Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital is the only Level 1 trauma center in the area. It has seen a 48% increase in gun-related injuries since 2019. The hospital was awarded $200,000 to launch the Violent Injury Recovery and Support Program.
Intervention specialists will assess a patient’s needs, connect them with community resources, and stay in touch with them to support their recovery for up to a year after discharge.
“These counselors come into the hospital and begin the process of returning to their community in a safe physical environment, in an environment where emotionally they can deal with the next steps of what they need to do. Whether it’s something as simple as finding a job or simply understanding how abuse has affected them and their families,” said Dr. Bryan Collier, Medical Director of Trauma at Carilion. Clinic. “Otherwise at great risk we will repeat this cycle and we will just see them again in the hospital.”
Total Action for Progress received $200,000 to relocate 12 families who were victims of gun violence.
“We are relocating them to safe accommodation. And that’s where their families can now heal and live safe, violence-free lives,” said Annette Lewis, President and CEO of TAP.
$150,000 is going to the Family Service of Roanoke Valley to launch mental health counseling at the EnVision Center in northwest Roanoke.
“If they need to bring children with them, if they need to bring babies with them, whatever we need to do so that we are able to provide the service they need that day at that time , we’re ready to do that,” said Linda Hentschel, president and CEO of Family Service of Roanoke Valley.
Since 2019, Roanoke has received over $3 million to address gun violence.
However, the Roanoke City Police Department reported a 21% increase in gun crimes from 2020 to 2021.
Councilor Joe Cobb, who sits on the Gun Violence Prevention Commission, said he thinks this latest grant will make a difference.
“Do you think that’s just kind of throwing money at the problem again?” asked 10 News reporter Lindsey Kennett.
“No, I don’t,” Cobb said. “This is an investment to solve the problem. It’s a long-term relationship we’re talking about here. While we all want very quick fixes to what we’re seeing, the reality is that we need to change our culture, we need to change our relationships, we need to invest in our relationships with each other. So by providing these services in responding, intervening and preventing gun violence, we are going to make a long-term difference.
William Dungee spoke at the town’s press conference and said he had witnessed firsthand the devastation of gun violence.
Dungee lost his son seven months ago, and now works as a mentor with the city’s RESET team, traveling to neighborhoods after shootings to meet with community members.
Dungee said the new grant funding is a start, but the whole community needs to be accountable.
“I think we have to stop saying ‘I’ because I can’t do it. It has to be ‘we’,” Dungee said. “Yeah that’s the right step but we definitely need more .”
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