Sandy Hook Families: “What Is Available to Us?”

Parents of two children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School say the needs of some victims' families are still unmet nearly two years after the shooting.

Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of Ana Marquez-Greene; and Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, parents of Avielle Rose Richman; appeared today before the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.

"There is no such thing as normal," said Marquez-Greene. "When I go to the Christmas Tree Shop, I still buy treats for two children. Except one goes in a goodie bag, and the other goes on a gravestone."

The state panel is making public policy recommendations following the tragedy that occurred in December 2012 when a gunman killed 20 first graders and six staff members inside the school building before turning the gun on himself.

One of the parents said this morning that more focus needs to be made on victims, noting the assailants in such attacks typically draw more attention than those they kill.

The parents went on to say that the needs of victims' families aren't being met and stressed the need for more communication about issues, including funding available to them and mental health services.

"Protecting and helping survivor victims and survivor families should be paramount," said Jennifer Hensel, the mother of a Sandy Hook student. "It was just so chaotic. ... We looked for our daughter in the first grade group and we couldn't find her, we could find her for a very long time."

During times of tragedy, families' needs must be met immediately, including an organized staging area to shield them from media and trained professionals on hand, they said.

"It's like pulling teeth to get information. What is available to us? We have to knock on doors. We are victim's families. Please clearly communicate what is available to us," said Hensel.

Many commission meetings have been held in Hartford, but Friday's was held in Newtown so the parents of the victims could speak before commission members draft final public policy recommendations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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