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Budget amendment asks for $10 million to help victims of Virginia Beach mass shooting, other tragedies

Possible threat not credible after ‘overheard comment’ about Virginia Beach Municipal Center, police say
Posted at 3:01 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 17:30:23-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It's been nearly three years since the shooting at Building 2 at the Municipal Center in Virginia Beach, where 12 employees were gunned down.

For many survivors and family members, benefits provided by the City of Virginia Beach or through grants, including VB Strong, are set to run out this May.

So many of the survivors and family members have gone through physical and mental health therapy, just as Joesph Samaha did - and still does.

It's been nearly 15 years, but every day Samaha thinks of his daughter, Reema, who was killed among 32 others in the Virginia Tech mass shooting.

"Eight years after the shooting, my wife said, 'Hey, Joe, I think you need to check in with someone,'" he said.

He's been in therapy ever since, reimbursed by the Commonwealth as part of VTVCare Foundation, started by Virginia Tech families three years after the massacre.

"After year three of any mass violence event, there is no more money - donor money - and grant money is gone and distributed," he said.

VTVCare helps families and survivors pay for long-term trauma needs that insurance doesn't cover. Now, VTVCare is working with Virginia Beach mass shooting families to establish help for them.

"We learned so much from our experience. Why can't we model that to Virginia Beach?" he said. "It's like a plug -and-play. At Virginia Tech, it was a disgruntled student, and this was a disgruntled employee."

Del. Kelly Fowler has proposed a budget amendment, asking for $10 million to create the Virginia Mass Violence Care Fund during the 2022 legislative session.

"Ever since Missy, I have been a different person and I need to get back to me," said Debbie Borato.

Borato lost her sister, Missy Langer, in the tragedy, and she is using money from VB Strong for therapy, but that money expires this May. She's in favor of the find for future therapy needs.

"Something could be said, or we hear, or we smell that could set us off again. I am scared for my future," said Borato.

Samaha says the VMVCF will be established as a permanent fund invested and directed by the state. The gain from the invested funds will be compounded to benefit victims of mass violence in Virginia.

Disbursements to identified and eligible victims to reimburse their out-of-pocket expenses that insurance does not cover will begin three years after a mass shooting event and remain in perpetuity. The VMVCF will be managed and disbursed either through the Virginia Crime Victims Fund or the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Jason Nixon, who lost his wife, Kate, inside Building 2 that day, says his dental plan paid for by the city will also be gone in three months and he needs help for ongoing PTSD.

"They got me on medications to help me handle this stuff, but I don't go to sleep like regular people. I have nightmares and night sweats. I also need to make sure my kids are taken care of," said Nixon.

Lawmakers in the House of Delegates, where Fowler proposed this legislation, have yet to take up the budget or amendments, but they will have to do so before their session ends on March 12.

Click here for our full coverage on the Virginia Beach mass shooting.