Those killed aren't the only victims of school shootings. Read this survivor's story.

I'm not sensationalizing when I say this mom's Facebook post is one of the most difficult things I've ever read.

I've written about the Syrian refugee crisis and cried my way through people's stories. I've written about the active shooter drill generation and felt the galling weight of America's gun violence problem.

But I'm struggling to write this story because I can barely digest what I've read.


On the morning of May 18, a gunman opened fire in a Santa Fe, Texas, high school art class, killing eight students and two adults. Deedra Van Ness's daughter Isabelle was one of the students in that class. She watched her classmates die in front of her. Their blood was on her clothes. And now she and her family are dealing with the traumatic aftermath of it all.

Photo by Daniel Kramer/AFP/Getty Images.

In a Facebook note, Van Ness shared the details of that day and the days that followed, with Isabelle's blessing. She's asked the media not to request interviews, but she and Isabelle want their story to be told. And we need to hear it.

Van Ness started with the phone call she got from Isabelle after dropping her off at school.

"I noticed her name on the screen and figured she forgot something," Van Ness wrote:

"As I answer the phone, she is whispering and I can barely understand her. Then I hear her whisper ... mom, they are shooting up the school, I'm hiding in a closet. I love you mom. In the background, I hear gunfire. I beg her to stay on the phone and she says other kids with her want to call their parents and don't have phones. I beg her not to hang up as the call drops. I was frozen, standing there with no idea what to do next."

I'm a mom myself, and what Van Ness experienced is my worst nightmare. The phone call. The sound of bullets. The dread after hanging up.

But that part, I had pictured — that part, I could kind of wrap my brain around. It's the details from her daughter's perspective that gutted me.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Van Ness's story puts a traumatized human face on all of the mass shooting statistics and gun control debates.

After sharing the story of that day from her own perspective, Van Ness then starts over from the beginning, through Isabelle's eyes.

In all of the school shooting coverage current and past, I have never read an account that gave such a clear picture of what a firsthand witness and survivor goes through.

Van Ness shared that as the shooter began his rampage, Isabelle ran into a supply closet with a handful of other students. "As they are moving heavy items in front of the door," Van Ness wrote, "the gunman screams ... Surprise M*****F****** and begins shooting into the closet. The gunman hits 3 of the 8 kids in the closet ... killing 2 of them instantly. He leaves to chase other kids who ran out of the room and they hear more gun shots."  

For 30 minutes, Isabelle lay on the floor of the closet next to her classmates' bodies, their blood seeping into her clothes. Then the police arrived.

And though that seems like it should be the end of the real trauma, it's far from it.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The kids who are killed in these school shootings are not the only victims. The trauma of the survivors needs to be part of the conversation, too.

The aftermath of the shooting that Van Ness shares is another story in and of itself. Isabelle doesn't want to shower now because the sound of the water hitting the tile triggers memories of sounds she heard in the supply closet. She's been struggling to connect with her friends who didn't share her experience. "Other students are bullying her on social media," Van Ness wrote. "Blaming her for not trying to do more to save her classmates, calling her a liar about what happened, etc."

And that barely scratches the surface. Van Ness's post is hard to read because the details make it feel too close, because we know it could be any one of our children. But we need these kinds of stories to remind us that school shooting statistics aren't just numbers — they are the real lives of children and families, changed forever by senseless gun violence.

Her post is long, but it's worth your time. Read the whole thing here:

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via CNN / Twitter

Eviction seemed imminent for Dasha Kelly, 32, and her three young daughters Sharron, 8; Kia, 6; and Imani, 5, on Monday. The eviction moratorium expired over the weekend and it looked like there was no way for them to avoid becoming homeless.

The former Las Vegas card dealer lost her job due to casino closures during the pandemic and needed $2,000 to cover her back rent. The mother of three couldn't bear the thought of being put out of her apartment with three children in the scorching Nevada desert.

"I had no idea what we were going to do," Kelly said, according to KOAT.

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