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Support programs for Cheonan survivors

A foundation established last year to honor the 46 sailors killed in North Korea’s torpedo attack on the corvette Cheonan is to begin several support programs this week for survivors of the disaster.

The foundation, named “Cheonan-ham Foundation,” will offer 5 million won ($4,480) to each of the 58 survivors during a ceremony Friday in Seoul, officials said.

The ceremony will also see the launch of a mentoring program for survivors suffering from trauma since the incident, which took place March 26, 2010 near the tense western inter-Korean sea border.

“Surviving soldiers are also victims of the ship sinking, so we should pay proper attention to them. It will not be just a onetime event. We will continue to provide care for them,” said Yoo Jung-geun, secretary general of the foundation.

The bereaved families of the fallen soldiers established the foundation in December with around 14.5 billion won in public donations.

The foundation has since sought to carry out scholarship programs for top-performing Navy personnel and children of military personnel, as well as other public service programs to help those in need.

According to Rep. Song Young-sun of the Future Hope Alliance, five survivors were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as of October. She also said that test results showed many other survivors are also at risk of developing similar symptoms.

Meanwhile, the Navy is establishing an award to honor Chief Warrant Officer Han Ju-ho, a navy diver who died during the rescue operation for the missing sailors.

The Navy plans to offer awards to a non-commissioned officer and a warrant officer working on special warfare units such as the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team and Ship Salvage Unit, and the Marine Corps’ special search unit, officials said.

The first award ceremony will take place on March 30 to coincide with the first anniversary of Han’s death.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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