Tuesday, November 10, 2009

VA Suffers Losses and Offers Help at Ft. Hood



Two VA Employees Slain, One Wounded during Shooting

WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2009) -- In the midst of providing mental health
services and other support to the Ft. Hood community following the
recent shooting, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) learned about
its own losses from the violence.  Two VA employees, both serving on
active duty with their Army Reserve units, were among the slain.  A
third VA health care worker on reserve duty was seriously wounded.



"Speaking for the entire VA family, I offer heart-felt condolences to
the families of these dedicated VA employees," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "They devoted their working lives to
care for our Veterans, and they died in uniform, preparing to safeguard
our Nation's freedom."



Russell G. Seager, Ph.D., a 51-year old nurse practitioner at the
Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee was killed in the
deadly attack.  He was a captain in the reserves.  In his VA duties, he
led a mental health team treating a wide variety of Veteran patients,
from the youngest combat Veterans just back from deployments to Iraq and
Afghanistan, to World War II Veterans dealing with depression.



Seager signed up for the Army Reserve four years ago.  This would have
been his first overseas deployment.  Seager was motivated to prevent the
mental health problems of young combat soldiers from occurring in the
first place.  He was to be assigned to a Combat Stress Control unit to
watch for warning signs, such as anger and insubordination, among
front-line soldiers.



Seager, who was also a well-respected teacher at Bryant and Stratton
College in Milwaukee, leaves behind a wife and son.



VA's other fatality was Juanita L. Warman, 55, a nurse practitioner at
VA's medical center in Perry Point, Md.  She was a lieutenant colonel in
the Maryland National Guard, with two daughters and six grandchildren.
Herself the daughter of a career Air Force member, she held a masters
degree from the University of Pittsburgh.



Warman volunteered for "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon," a program to help
members of the Maryland National Guard readjust after returning from
overseas deployments.  She provided mental health counseling and helped
develop a program about the myths and realities of post-traumatic stress
disorder.  She was preparing for deployment to Iraq at the time of her
death.



Dorothy Carskadon, 47, a captain in the reserves and a social worker and
team leader at the VA Vet Center in Madison, Wis., was wounded in the
gunfire that brought Ft. Hood activities to a halt.  She is currently in
stable condition in the intensive care unit at the Darnall Army Medical
Center at Ft. Hood.



As a VA team leader, Carskadon oversees other social workers in
providing individual and group counseling for combat Veterans
experiencing difficulty readjusting to the civilian community following
military service.  A new Army officer, Carskadon was preparing for her
first deployment.



On an average day, more than 850 VA employees don uniforms to serve
military commitments in Reserve and National Guard units across the
country and overseas.



VA has been responding to the Ft. Hood tragedy since shortly after the
sound of gunfire was replaced by the sirens of emergency responders.



Through official agreements and the shared sense of mission to care for
military members and Veterans in the central Texas region, VA has
provided clinical supplies, including pharmaceuticals, and sent mental
health teams from nearby facilities as well as four fully staffed,
portable Vet Centers to aid in counseling military members and families.




Teams of physicians, nurses and other clinical and support personnel
were placed on stand-by for possible deployment to Ft. Hood or to
receive additional patients following the shooting.



VA operates several clinical and benefits processing locations on Ft.
Hood and routinely has about 18 employees working on the post.  Initial
actions included confirming the safety and security of those employees.



VA continues to coordinate with the Department of Defense on providing
care and support to all those affected by the tragedy.