TriWest Observes El Paso Shooting 4th Anniversary with Conversation of Healing
PHOENIX (August 3, 2023) – Four years ago today, at 10:40 a.m. on August 3, 2019, 45 people were shot at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. During the shooting, 23 victims lost their lives and 22 others were left to struggle for survival and later cope with the aftermath of the tragedy.
Today, though many of the physical wounds have long healed, the invisible wounds from intense trauma caused by the shooting still resounds in the El Paso community.
For two employees at TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest), the anniversary of the attack is more than another quiet observance of a mass shooting in a U.S. community – they were forever impacted as victims of the attack.
Michelle Grady and Raul Loya both suffered deep scars from the El Paso shooting, but in starkly different ways.
Grady, Communications Liaison, suffered multiple gunshot wounds when the gunman opened fire on victims in the parking lot prior to entering the store. Grady's serious wounds required multiple surgeries to repair her injuries, and a long rehabilitation that included learning to use her right hand and walk again.
Loya, Customer Service Representative, suffered the tragic loss of his parents. His mother, Maribel Loya, and his stepfather Leo Campos, a TriWest employee at the time, were victims in the store when the shooter entered and opened fire on shoppers.
Loya has also been through a long rehabilitation from the intense psychological trauma of the violent loss of his parents.
On the fourth anniversary of the tragedy, Grady and Loya are thriving in their TriWest roles but still remain on their own journeys to recovery. Their ongoing paths to healing are spotlighted in a new video demonstrating their combined resilience through severe injury and trauma.
"Their conversation on healing and recovery is very powerful," said David J. McIntyre, TriWest President and CEO. "Michelle and Raul speak volumes by their actions and their willingness to share with us. We are better for the privilege of being at their side," he emphasized.
[TriWest Employees Michelle Grady and Raul Loya seated next to each other in a library setting, Michelle asks Raul] "How have you been?"
[Raul replies and gentle music fades in as camera closes in on Raul] "Um, I've been okay, can't really complain. I have to move forward. There's nothing much really to do about that."
[Music continues, camera zooms out to show both Michelle and Raul talking inaudibly; Text appears on screen] "The lives of TriWest employees Michelle Grady and Raul Loya were forever changed on August 3, 2019 when a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso."
[Michelle continues conversation with Raul] "Yeah. It was like, we have the same tragedy in common, but we are on different spectrums of it."
[Raul nods in agreement while Michelle continues] "I can't imagine what you've gone through and I'm sure you probably can't imagine all the things that I've been through, but I mean, they're both big. I mean they're huge, huge obstacles and, feelings and everything involved, and I think we have more in common than we don't."
[Music loudens, A picture appears of Michelle in a hospital bed after the shooting, text on screen] "With multiple gunshot wounds, Michelle was among the 22 who were injured.''
[Screen changes to another picture depicting a man and woman on a sign with the names 'Leonardo Campos Jr. & Maribel Hernandez-Loya' printed on the bottom; text on screen appears] "Raul's parents, Maribel Hernandez-Loya and fellow TriWest employee Leonardo Campos Jr. were among the 23 who lost their lives."
[Photo fades into inaudible video of Raul and Michelle talking and laughing; text on screen] "Both Raul and Michelle have since been on long and difficult journeys of healing."
[Video changes to close up of Michelle speaking] "Well, therapy was really helpful for me because I got to hear someone's point of view, a professional's point of view that was third party. So it's not like it's completely different than the way I think."
[Camera zooms out to show both Michelle and Raul, Raul explains] "Well for me, I was really speaking to somebody objectively, because really you can't talk to your family because they're going through the same issue, you know what I mean? So for me, talking to somebody objectively was perfect. So after that I went to a psychiatrist then that's what helped me the most. To cope."
[Raul continues] "Because I guess, to a certain point I did take medication that kind of helped me through the process. But therapy was great."
[A garden memorial for those lost to the tragedy appears; text on screen] "The County of El Paso Healing Garden has served as an important location for reflection and recovery."
[Raul is standing in the garden speaking to the camera happily] "I actually try to come at least twice a month, at least for my therapy."
[Video now shows a plaque about The Healing Garden; Michelle is also in the garden with Raul and speaks] "Sometimes I come here when I feel especially emotional…"
[The fountain at The Healing Garden comes into frame as Michelle continues] "And sometimes I feel like I don't have many people who understand where, you know, what I've been through and everything."
[Raul and Michelle sit outside in the garden together as Michelle continues] "So I come here to pay my respects because these names and these people will never be forgotten by me."
[Raul walks through the garden, reading plaques as he says] "For me it's just comfort really. I come here and I look at everybody's name and that's what basically it means to me is like…"
[Video cuts back to Michelle and Raul sitting talking in the garden, Raul continues] "It's just to remember them forever."
[Michelle agrees] "Yeah."
[Michelle continues as the video shows plaques of names of the 23 killed] "Hearing that there's 23 people murdered and actually seeing the names and having a specific space for everyone kind of drives it home that these were 23 people with families and lives and hopes and dreams. And they each need to be remembered for who they were."
[Raul agrees with Michelle as camera focuses back on the two of them discussing in the garden, saying] "Right."
[Michelle continues] 'It's not just a number.''
[Inaudible video of Raul and Michelle shows them taking a photo together; text on screen] "Although Michelle and Raul were impacted very differently that day, they each share a similar resolve to have a positive influence on the world around them going forward."
[More inaudible footage of both Michelle and Raul speaking and laughing indoors is shown while we hear Michelle say] "I'm not only just getting better for myself, hopefully I'm getting better to help someone else. So it's more you know, I think everything is bigger than me."
[Video switches back to Michelle close up at first and then shows both Raul and Michelle, in a library setting as she continues] "Everything's in a large design and so this terrible thing happened and all we can hope is that, you know, there's a little light somewhere in the situation…"
[Raul adds] "At the end of the tunnel."
[Michelle continues, nodding in agreement] "To help someone else and to help ourselves."
[Raul begins, seated next to Michelle] "Like they said, I think something good has got to come out of the tragedy, so…"
[A banner that reads "El Paso Strong" is shown, as well as multiple cut out stars that read "be kind", "Hope, Love" and showcase hand painted art.]
[Music begins to fade]
[Final slide shows TriWest Healthcare Alliance logo and website: www.triwest.com]