Civil Air Patrol Responds to Florida School Shooting

Local Civil Air Patrol Character Development Officers help cadets deal with tragedy. By Captain Olga Simoncelli
By: Civil Air Patrol, 399th Composite Squadron
Capt. Simoncelli addresses the squadron. (Photo: Major Peter Milano)
Capt. Simoncelli addresses the squadron. (Photo: Major Peter Milano)
DANBURY, Conn. - March 17, 2018 - PRLog -- The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Chaplains Corp senior command was quick to respond to the Florida high school shooting tragedy. CAP National Headquarters issued a request to all Wings and Squadrons to conduct special character development sessions at the very next meeting to focus on reassuring cadets and to try to prepare them should the unthinkable happen in their school. Many supporting materials, slideshows and videos were distributed to units nationwide.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, two squadron Character Development Instructors (CDI's), at the 399th Composite Squadron in Danbury, conducted a joint lesson attended by cadets, cadet parents, visitors and senior members. First Lieutenant Christina Posca presented a slideshow briefing that addressed self-care and self-help following disasters. The presentation included recommended actions in case of an active shooter situation as well as a video analyzing the psychology behind school shootings. The slideshow was followed by a discussion led by Captain Olga Simoncelli, who explored with cadets what they can learn from such an incident, gearing the discussion to CAP Core Values: Integrity, Service, Respect and Excellence. Themes explored included empathy, understanding and compassion.

Character Development is an integral part of CAP's Cadet Programs, which is one of the organization's three key missions; the other two being Emergency Services and Aerospace Education. Character Development (CD) is under the auspices of the Chaplains Corps and many of the CD Instructors are in fact chaplains, but not all. In this role, the Character Development program provides invaluable guidance to the cadets via lessons and case studies that include sensitive subjects such as bullying, cyber safety, addiction, suicide and so on.

In the aftermath of the recent Florida high school shootings, the 399th Composite Squadron CDI's addressed both situational awareness in case of an active shooter as well as ways to think and react in a healthy way after a disaster. From the cadets' anonymous written comments after the presentation, it was clear that the event was unsettling to these children and there was some sense of apprehension in regard to being safe in a place where they need to feel safe, namely in their own schools. Many cadets expressed gratitude for the presentation in terms of being better prepared and emotionally reassured.

All cadets were aware of the Florida shooting; the over-reporting and even post-event discussions may be reaching a saturation point with these teens and tweens (cadets are between 12 and 18 years old). Along with parents and schools, Civil Air Patrol endeavors to be a part of these children's lives with positive guidance and enrichment activities that we hope will endure for a lifetime. Senior officers volunteer their time and talents to educate and help protect our youth.

Members of the 399th Composite Squadron meet on Tuesday's from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Danbury Municipal Airport, 21 Miry Brook Road, Danbury, CT. For additional information about cadet or senior member programs email To view squadron activities with pictures visit

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force's Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP's 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP's Cadet Programs. Visit for more information.

Major Peter Milano (Public Affairs Officer)
Civil Air Patrol, 399th Composite Squadron
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Location:Danbury - Connecticut - United States
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