Orlando Pulse massacre victims to receive government funding for grief counselling
The US government has given Florida $8.5 million to fund grief counselling for victims, witnesses and first responders to the Orlando Pulse massacre.
Terrorist Omar Mateen claimed to be part of Islamic State before opening fire on patrons, killing 49 and wounding 53 during the attack in June last year.
The massacre was the worst shooting in modern US history.
The grant from the Department of Justice will also reimburse the family assistance centre which was set up just after the shooting.
Speaking to local TV station News13, Ricardo Negron – who was in Pulse during the attack – said: “It’s something so needed to ensure that the services are being given.
Negron realised he needed counselling a month after the massacre.
“It was the difference between basically being able to function. I was holding it in, saying: ‘Oh, you can get through this by yourself,’” he said.
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“And it got to a point where anything would trigger a reaction, a flashback. The counselling has helped a lot.
“I was fortunate enough to make it out physically unharmed.”
The funding decision by the US government comes less than two weeks after Trump visited Orlando without mentioning or paying tribute to the Pulse victims.
The Antiterrorism Emergency Assistance Programme grant is set to be awarded to Florida today, on the same day a scholarship fund for LGB students was established to honour the victims.
Florida businessman Barry Miller has set up The 49 Fund, which will award 10 scholarships each year, all worth $4,900, according to AP.
Students looking to apply have to self-identify as out, have a GPA of 3.0 or above, and attend an institution of higher education full-time.
Miller said that survivors of the Pulse attack or victims’ relatives would receive special consideration for the scholarship.
He is reportedly working on the project with the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and the Central Florida Foundation, which it says has awarded more than $30 million in grants since 1994.