At Camp Lejeune, an 170-square-mile base and home to about 50,000 uniformed troops, counselors at the Naval Hospital were gearing up to offer help as the ripples from Monday's tragedy began reaching family and friends, barracks mates and survivors, said Dr. Sawsan Ghurani, director of mental health programs at the hospital.
"It's so unexpected that it's more of a shock than if you'd been mentally prepared" for battlefield casualties, said Ghurani, a psychiatrist and Navy captain. "You hope people don't die in war, but it is a common occurrence and whereas, in training exercises, it's very rare."
The ages of the victims make it even worse, Ghurani said.
"For me, it's especially tragic when they are so young and still have so much left to give in life and to experience in life that it just seems unfair," she said. But, she added, "The nature of the military culture is to be selfless."
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ted Bridis, Lolita Baldor and Pauline Jelinek in Washington; Scott Sonner and Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev.; Michelle Rindels and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio; Jim Suhr in St. Louis; Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn.; Michelle Janaye Nealy in Severna Park, Md.; Kasey Jones in Baltimore; and Susanne M. Schafer in Columbia, S.C.
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