TAPS: Fort Hood shooting leaves trail of devastation

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer on base, speaks with the media outside of an entrance to the Fort Hood military base following a shooting that occurred inside, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. Four people were killed, including the gunman, and 16 were wounded in the attack, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)

WASHINGTON — A mass shooting like the latest attack at Fort Hood can be devastating for the general public.

But for those who were close to the victims, it is much worse. And the effects can last for years.

“These families fully believed their loved ones were coming home that night,” explains Ami Neiberger-Miller, a spokeswoman with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a group that works with grieving military families. “It was completely unexpected.”

TAPS is a national organization based in Arlington, Va. On average, it takes about five to seven years for people who experienced a traumatic loss to reach a new normal, according to the group.

“Many of these people will need additional support and care as they process the loss and what’s happened in their lives,” says Neiberger-Miller. “They need to have people around them that they know and trust, people that are supportive of them in their journey and people who will assist them.”

In the military, each single death typically has a significant impact on at least 10 people, according to TAPS.

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