Roanoke mother’s testimony leads to reassessment of Gun Violence Prevention Commission policies

Javonda Merkman shared her experience dealing with the trauma of her son being shot back in June

A pivotal moment at Tuesday night’s Gun Violence Prevention meeting in Roanoke.

ROANOKE, Va. – A pivotal moment at Tuesday night’s Gun Violence Prevention meeting in Roanoke.

During an emotional meeting, the commission decided to end their meeting early after hearing testimony from guest speaker, Javonda Merkman. Merkman’s son was shot back in June.

“I was having to navigate, strategize, my children, the assessment of injuries, the medical factors, my work, his capabilities and even if he would live beyond his incident,” said Merkman.

She spoke about the barriers her family faced to get help after her son’s injury, like not being able to qualify for grants or certain programs.

“You cannot take a family that has been traumatized and put them in boxes,” she said.

Chairman, Joe Cobb said Merkman’s comments were pivotal.

“We can talk data all we want but until we talk with the people who experienced this and what they encountered, we don’t really know the reality,” he said.

Moving forward, Cobb hopes to hear from more people who have been affected by violence to find out what resources can be provided to help fill the gaps.

“But it won’t make a difference unless it’s directly emerging from the needs that are identified by the people affected,” said Cobb.

Some of those needs identified so far are housing, transportation and accessible trauma counseling.

Interested in sharing how gun violence has affected you or your family, contact Joe Cobb to speak at a Gun Violence Prevention Commission meeting.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.