Physical injuries and illnesses are not the only scars carried by 9/11 responders and survivors. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which in 2001 was much less well understood than it is today, has afflicted many in the 9/11 community. The current coronavirus pandemic is causing the anxiety and depression felt by many PTSD sufferers to flare up.
Certainly there is fear stemming from the knowledge that COVID-19 attacks people who are already suffering from underlying physical conditions, such as cancer and respiratory problems, which are extremely common maladies in the 9/11 community. But fear isn’t the only reason the 9/11 heroes and survivors are feeling unsettled during the pandemic. PTSD-like symptoms are also appearing out of a sense of helplessness in the face of this new viral enemy.
Dr. Jason Kornrich, a psychologist at the World Trade Center Health Program, told WCBS Radio in New York that some of his 9/11 patients “really feel like there is another national disaster which they should be involved in and they should be helping. I think they’re going to still be very conflicted and feel very guilty that they’re not on the frontlines so much these days, especially our retirees.”
If what Dr. Kornrich says is true, it is a testament to the spirit of those who responded and survived 9/11. Even with the physical and emotional trauma they’ve endured, these brave people still have the desire to help others. The problem is that this time, with COVID-19, there’s nothing they can do aside from the same things we’re all doing — staying home, wearing masks and social distancing. It’s easy to understand how a person wired to save others could feel like that just isn’t enough.
If you’re in the 9/11 community, we want you to know you have no reason to feel guilt over COVID-19. This pandemic is simply a different type of event from September 11 and one that you can rely on the medical and healthcare professions to handle, the way you handled yourself and helped others in 2001.
The attorneys of Barasch & McGarry advise and represent 9/11 responders, survivors and their families. If you’re struggling with anxiety over COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact your trusted health care provider. If you need help finding someone to speak with, you can call our New York office and we would be happy to assist. Reach us at 888-351-9421 or contact us online.