Christine Loeber: A Tribute to the Yountville Shooting Victim

Christine Loeber

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Christine Loeber, executive director of the Pathway Home program for veterans, was one of the three hostages who were killed at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, according to a statement released by The Pathway Home. The Pathway Home announced that Loeber, Dr. Jen Golick, a therapist, and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist, were killed. Earlier today, a hostage situation turned tragic after the gunman and his last three hostages were found deceased. The Veterans Home was put on lockdown on Friday for more than seven hours after there were reports of an active shooter in the facility. It is not known if Loeber died in the hostage standoff, but it was reported that she was a hostage and executive director of the program that the gunman had been asked to leave. Here’s what you need to know about Christine Loeber.

1. Christine Loeber Was a Hostage at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville

Christine Loeber, 48, was one of the last three hostages during a nearly seven-hour standoff at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. Reports indicated that the gunman, 36, entered the building during a party, took a number of people hostage, and then closed himself off in a room with three hostages. Officials reported that after the gunman released some of his initial hostages, he and the last three remaining hostages were later found dead. The Pathway Home released a statement confirming Loeber was one of the three victims.

Loeber grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Oliver Ames High School in Easton. She had an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of New Hampshire. She worked for NESN after college as a marketing and community relations coordinate and later as an affiliate relations manager. She left in 1999 and worked at Engage and The Yankee Group in Massachusetts, before finally switching her focus and working for five years at Boston Health Care for the Homeless. In 2008 she earned a master’s degree from the Boston College School of Social Work, specializing in mental health. That was the same year she joined the VA as a trauma and substance use disorder therapist. She specialized in helping women, her father Donald Loeber told the Boston Globe.

“She was into helping women coming back from the war with problems, drinking and drugs. She loved it.”

Loeber thought of the innovative idea to introduce trauma sensitive yoga to women in the VA Boston Healthcare System. When she moved to The Pathway Home, she absolutely loved her job and helping the veterans there. Her father said: “She was happy as hell up there, she loved it. She was working with guys who were screwed up in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s a home for them, really. A nice place.”

2. The Pathway Home Helps Post-9/11 Veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Gulf War Deployments

The Pathway Home is a residential program working with post-9/11 veterans “affected by deployment-related stress.” Many members of the program have seen multiple combat deployments and are dealing with issues that impede their re-entry into civilian life, according to the website. According to the Pathway Program’s website: “The program is specifically focused on assisting soldiers who have returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and other Gulf War theaters. The program was started in 2008 on the grounds of Yountville’s Veterans Home and is located in the Madison Hall. Since opening the program the staff of 18 has treated almost 200 non-senior veterans averaging 40 residents at any one time. It operates solely on private donations and grants.”

The San Francisco Chronicle covered The Pathway Home in-depth in November 2017. Pathway is an independent non-profit that serves Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. (It is believed the gunman was a veteran from Afghanistan.) The program is supported by donations and grants and requires a minimum stay of four months. It was originally started by a private $5.6 million grant that was made 10 years ago. Fred Gusman, a social worker, founded Pathway and it was originally open to all veterans. In 2016, the program narrowed its focus to post 9/11 veterans from California who are transitioning to higher education at nearby colleges. It has an annual budget of $1 million and does not require VA records for admission.

The Veterans Home in Yountville is one of the largest in the United States. It houses 1,100 men and women of all ages, from World War II era to present-day. The Veterans Home dates back to 1884 and is a 600-acre campus. Residents and employees are sheltering in place.

3. Loeber Said that Many Veterans Need to Be Taught How to Operate in Society After Being Under Such Extreme Stress

Loeber and the Pathway Program were featured in a San Francisco Chronicle story in November 2017. She told the Chronicle: “When these people are in combat, their systems are programmed to keep them alive under incredibly stressful situations. Nobody helps them understand that when they get back they have to reprogram their nervous system to operate at a different caliber so they can be successful civilians.”

Loeber’s father, Donald Loeber, told the Boston Globe that she died doing what she loved. “She wanted to serve people.”

A statement released by Larry Kamer of The Pathway Home read: “It is with extreme sadness that we acknowledge the death of three members of The Pathway Home family — Christine Loeber, our Executive Director; Dr. Jen Golick, our therapist; and Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. These brave women were accomplished professionals who dedicated their careers to serving our nation’s veterans, working closely with those in greatest need of attention after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of us at The Pathway Home are devastated by today’s events. We stand with the families, friends, and colleagues who share in this terrible loss.”

4. The Gunman Was a Veteran Treated for PTSD at The Pathway Home

Napa Valley Register reported that the man may have been dressed in black and wearing body armor and carrying an M4 type of weapon. State Senator Bill Dodd confirmed this NBC Bay Area that the suspect was a member of the Pathway Home program for military veterans with emotional trauma. Early reports say he was 36 and was discharged from the treatment program two weeks ago. However, Dodd later clarified that the gunman had been kicked out of the program.

The gunman took five hostages at first, but released two. Authorities said he was a 36-year-old veteran who was wearing a stash of bullets around his neck and waist, SFGate reported. He walked in with a rifle, but some people were able to escape before he started firing. Hostage negotiators from the Napa Sheriff’s Office and the FBI tried to contact the gunman during the standoff but were unable to reach him.

Loeber Had Planned to Open The Pathway Home to Women Too

Loeber was a social worker with a master’s degree from Boston College, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She had been working at VA clinics in San Francisco and Menlo Park when she was hired by Pathway, including a location made famous in the book “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The Pathway Home had always been open just to men, but Loeber had plans to open it to women too and house them on a different wing from the men. Pathway was home to 14 men, but was expected to rise to 34 residents once women were added.

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