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It Takes a Village: The Immediate Mental Health Response to the Oak Creek Sikh Temple Shootings

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A thoughtful reflection on the Oak Creek Sikh Temple shootings which occurred on August 5, 2012. This story was written by AAPA member Puni Kalra for the organization Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians, Inc (CHAI).

By Puni Kalra

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, at approximately 10:30 am, a gunman arrived at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and killed 7 people, including himself. I was sitting in my home in Aurora, Colorado that morning and learned of the event as I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed. I immediately ran to the television and could not believe what I was seeing…swat teams at a Gurdwara and images of Sikh men, women, and children in distress. It was utterly heartbreaking. I went numb for the next 24 hours.

The following night, I called my childhood friend in Chicago to process what had happened. We were both still in shock. Having grown up in the Sikh community and going to youth camps since the age of six, this hit very close to home in every way — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Gurdwara was my second home, and even though I may have grown up in Chicago and this was an hour away, it didn’t matter. This was still my Gurdwara and the people that were affected were my Sikh brothers and sisters.

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