State offers free Gilroy Garlic Festival counseling

Some survivors of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting had no health insurance. Others face high deductibles or copays and long-term recovery bills.

State funds are available to help. The California Victim Compensation Board offers help to people with physical injuries as well as counseling for attendees suffering from trauma-related conditions that could linger for years.

The festival killer took the lives of Stephen Romero, 6, Keyla Salazar, 13, and Trevor Irby, 25, and wounded 13 others.

Mary Thomson, spokesperson for the compensation board, said that the Sacramento-based board had received over 500 applications for aid from survivors of the Gilroy shooting as of Aug. 19. She urged anyone who attended the festival to apply immediately, because the psychological effects of the trauma come be felt later.

“Even if they aren’t feeling the stress of this today, they should still apply because it opens up the window,” said Thomson. “If they start the application and we save it in our files, then they come back later and apply.”

Compensation is available to all survivors of the shooting, even if they are not California residents.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival attracted visitors from around the world, making the effects of the July 28 shooting that much more wide-reaching.

Many people travel from outside of the state to attend the festival, and these survivors are eligible to apply for the state aid through the compensation board site. 

Undocumented immigrants are also eligible for assistance, said Thomson. The board has a portal on the site for Spanish speakers.

The compensation board is not designed to be used as the primary way to pay for medical care, she said, adding that survivors who have insurance should use it, and the compensation board can assist with any overages. It can also be used for those without insurance.

“We are the payer of last resort,” said Thomson. 

The response of the compensation board may be quicker if survivors submit medical bills, said Thomson, adding that survivors can apply and find a doctor after being accepted. 

Survivors can apply for compensation by visiting https://online.victims.ca.gov calling 1-800-777-9229 or emailing [email protected]

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