Following a pro-Trump riot that killed one police officer and apparently contributed to the suicide of two more, the Department of Veterans Affairs will send two “mobile vet centers” to the US Capitol to provide free trauma counseling and other services for the US Capitol Police, National Guard members, and Congressional officials.
Some staff and members of Congress had to flee for their lives during the January 6th violence. It is now known that some members of the mob that invaded the Capitol intended to assassinate political leaders who were viewed as enemies of Donald Trump. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of those members who were forced to go into hiding when the mob looted offices and searched for their targets. She had to avoid the “extraction point” set for members of Congress because she feared that the same Republican members who tweeted the location of the Speaker of Parliament live would reveal their location. Employees in some offices barricaded themselves with office furniture; Federal officials appointed by Trump delayed the arrival of support until the greatest danger was over.
We now know that the attack on the Capitol was much more violent than originally reported. Almost 140 police officers were injured, some seriously. But the mental scars will also be severe, especially for officers and staff who now believe they have been betrayed by their leadership and by other officers.
While some officers fought to secure the building, others let the mob pass or even allegedly gave instructions. While many officials were injured, it is now clear that those injuries were caused because the leaders either refused to plan the predicted violence or were rejected when they tried.
Both officers and staff are now struck by one of the most momentous leadership mistakes in modern history, and the possibility that their lives have been deliberately endangered at some level. Congress should better ensure that everyone in and near the Capitol that day receives both immediate and long-term mental health care, and at the expense of the government.