Parents of Sandy Hook massacre victims say they get scant help from state

By Richard Weizel
Parents of Sandy Hook massacre victims say they get scant help from state

By Richard Weizel

NEWTOWN Connecticut (Reuters) - Parents of two children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut said on Friday that state officials had failed to provide them adequate mental health care in the wake of one of America's worst mass shootings.

"We didn’t even know we had been assigned a case worker the day of the shootings until a few days ago," said Jeremy Richman, the father of a six-year-old girl killed in the attack.

The girl's mother, Jennifer Hansel, said "to this day" it is unclear how and where to get counseling.

The rare public testimony by parents of the victims was organized by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a 16-member panel set up by the state and charged with recommending ways to prevent and deal with gun violence in schools.

The hearing was held in a library in Newtown, two miles from where 20-year-old former student, Adam Lanza, shot dead 20 children and six school staff on Dec. 14, 2012, before turning the gun on himself when police arrived. Before his attack, Lanza had shot his mother to death at their home.

"Each day is some hellish version of (the movie) 'Groundhog Day,'" said Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost a six-year-old daughter in the attack. She said she and her husband Jimmy relive their daughter’s death "over and over again."

"One of my specialties is trauma. But never in my worst nightmares did I think I would be the one experiencing this kind of trauma and appearing before you today," she said.

Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Chairman Scott Jackson said the panel would include the parents' recommendation that qualified crisis trauma teams be created after shootings, with a special liaison for victim families.

"We have been focused the past two years on policy. Today, we heard about the real needs of families and how to help victims," he said.

The commission is expected to issue its final report in early January.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bernadette Baum)