‘Sanctuary’ of military base shattered in wake of shooting

‘Sanctuary’ of military base shattered in wake of shooting
JBPHH has opened an emergency assistance center with counselors in the wake of Wednesday's shooting. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of the armed forces are always on guard, but especially when they’re deployed overseas.

And that’s part of the reason why Wednesday’s shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was too close to home for the military community.

“These are supposed to be areas of sanctuary for us, and 99.9% of the time it is,” said retired Marine Dwight Hansen. “So when something like that, a tragedy like yesterday happens, the community really tries to bond together.”

“You’re never thinking when you go to the shipyard that you might not come home,” said retired Hawaii adjutant Gen. Robert Lee. “So this is a terrible event and my condolences go out to the victims’ families.”

“I think the anxiety related to safe places being unsafe is something that’s been experienced by a lot of people recently, and that’s something that people come to us with a concern about,” added Holley Kuersteiner, a U.S. Department of Defense counselor. She added that the military community can be tight-knit, but sometimes can’t be a substitute for family.

“It’s a family, but also people are isolated from their blood relatives a lot of times, so they really do need to reach out to people locally in order to get the support that hey would normally fall back on their family for,” she said.

That’s why the base is offering emergency family counseling at its Military and Family Services Center near Moanalua Shopping Center. The emergency center was scheduled to be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with walk-ins welcome.

Meanwhile, security has been stepped up at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial for Saturday’s commemoration of the December 7, 1941 attack.

“Every year we have increased security measure for December 7th, and this year’s not going to change based on the tragic events of yesterday,” said Jay Blount, a National Park ranger at the Memorial.

The tragic events have tightened the bond among the members of the military community in the islands.

“I just pray for those families that they’ll be able to heal, and that the community will be able to come and rally around them,” said Hansen.

JBPHH officials said anyone needing help can call the Pearl Harbor Chaplain at 473-9371, or the Family Emergency Assistance Center at 866-525-6676.

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