Three Years Later
Our Coalition believes putting survivors and victim's families first; to invest in people and not in a $40M museum project that will inevitably put more money into the pockets of Barbara Poma. Survivors and families have ongoing needs that are not being adequately met with existing services and organizations. The OnePULSE Foundation does not provide care services or financial assistance to survivors or family members. We must collectively pressure our politicians, corporate donors, and all those involved in recovery and memorial efforts to put money where it matters most: in the hands of the people directly affected by this tragedy.
Families need an appropriate memorial that utilizes nature's gifts for healing. There is no reason why this effort can not be run by the city and/or volunteers, instead of by the OnePULSE Foundation who has failed at providing family members with this dignity. Instead, the OnePULSE Foundation has focused on raising money for a museum, proceeding forward with its mission to make the mass shooting a spectacle through merchandising, design competitions, and controversial narratives of what happened on June 12, 2016. As we continue to fight against the OnePULSE Foundation's museum, we will also continue to support a community of survivors. This page reflects our efforts. PLEASE ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO INVEST IN PEOPLE, AND NOT IN SITES FOR TOURISTS. #victimsfirst #survivorsfirst
From speaking with survivors and victim's family members, these are some of the issues they are dealing with:
Not everyone was given a large sum of money following the shooting. Also, not everyone was given the same amount of money by the OneOrlando Fund and some received no other financial assistance from other funds/organizations. Higher amounts were determined based on the severity of physical injury and loss of life, not accounting for the cost of severe emotional trauma.
No financial training was given to people who were given a check. Not only were many of the victims young, but they had never experienced this kind of trauma and were not aware of its future financial burdens. No one gave them any financial literacy training or told them what kind of costs they could expect in the future.
Survivors and victim's families are working people, some with no familial support in the country. The added financial pressure of co-pays, unexpected medical bills, and medication costs has set many of them back.
Some survivors are still taking regular trips to the hospital. Nerve damage and other crippling and reoccurring pain from being shot continue to have a lasting impact on survivor's bodies. Trips to the emergency room are paid completely out of pocket, especially for families who do not have medical insurance.
Survivors and family members have had difficulty acquiring counseling, specifically stable counseling so they do not have to keep re-hashing their experiences and feelings to new/changing counselors. Many have paid out of pocket due to funding deficits and changes that have forced them to find new counselors. Those who can not afford it have not been given the information needed to find the very few free counseling services in the city. Adequate continued outreach for mental health services has not happened. Survivors and family members dealing with serious anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide have had to ALSO find their own care. Our coalition is helping connect survivors and family members to UCF's Community Counseling and Research Center.
Language barriers and geographical barriers have also been ongoing issues in communicating with survivors and family members and ensuring that they receive the help they need. Around 11 families do not live in the contiguous United States. Others travel back and forth between Florida and Puerto Rico. Some do not have stable housing. These families and survivors are often excluded from receiving ongoing support. They are definitely not playing an active role in the OnePULSE Foundation's events or museum's plans. This is no one's fault, it is just a reality.
Families are literally being split apart due solely to the incredible financial burden that has resulted from this trauma.
Parents who lost children no longer have their support as they age and enter retirement.
This is why all money should be raised for a fund that provides lifetime care to survivors and families. If the community raised $40M, it should go directly to those who were affected by the shooting and not towards building a museum that will educate tourists. We firmly believe that education is important, but we also recognize that it's 2019 and brick-and-mortar institutions are not required to fulfill the OnePULSE Foundation's educational mission. There is also already a museum exhibit and classes being conducted at the Orange County Regional History Center. Use remaining monies and public funds for a permanent public memorial.
Here are some stories about the continued challenges that survivors are faced with:
Survivor Stories: Pulse Shooting Survivor Leo Melendez on Challenges of Recovery
"I don't want Pulse to define me because I'm not Pulse."
Three years after the Pulse Shooting, psychological wounds still raw.