How Has the 9/11 Attacks Affected the Long-Term Health of its Survivors?

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The 9/11 attacks is one of the darkest chapters in modern history, when terrorists led a series of attacks against the United States on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were targeted by terrorist-hijacked planes in a suicide mission, causing their total collapse. 2,977 were killed, and over six thousand were injured in the 9/11 attacks.

However, long after the debris have been cleared and the monuments have been built, the 9/11 attacks continue to inflict suffering on its survivors, in a harrowing legacy of enduring scars on their health and psyche.

A Death Toll Higher Than That of Ground Zero

While there are almost three thousand deaths attributed directly to the 9/11 attacks, the toll rises higher when one takes into consideration all the lives that have been forever changed through all sorts of injuries and illnesses acquired collaterally from the events that happened on Lower Manhattan that day. 

Almost four thousand program members have died in the years after the tragedy. As unfortunate as these numbers may be, the death toll is likely to be even higher, as only 5% of survivors have registered into the program – a very small sliver of the estimated 400,000 people exposed to toxic dust and debris on the day of the 9/11 attacks and its aftermath.

If you were in or around Lower Manhattan during and immediately after the 9/11 attacks, you can – and should – register to the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) in order to secure your rights to medical treatment and attention, and even financial compensation should it be warranted down the line. 9/11 Lawyers Hansen and Rosasco are a great place to start.

Enduring Injuries

The most obvious marks of survivorship of the 9/11 attacks are the visible scars on the body that are a direct result of injuries sustained during the tragedy, ranging from wounds, damaged or lost body parts, paralysis, and more, contributing to or directly causing the survivors’ decreased quality of life and health.

While these injuries from the 9/11 attacks vary in severity, one thing is for sure: they have forever changed the lives of the victims for the worse.

Slowly Sinking Into Sickness

The easily visible marks of survivorship from the 9/11 attacks are horrible enough, but the illnesses caused by the tragedy that took – or are still taking – time to manifest are almost always the most devastating. 

After walking away alive from the horror of that day only to slowly waste away with illnesses acquired from the toxic dust and debris that filled the air of Lower Manhattan and its environs – cancer, heart problems, respiratory problems, among others – is a tragedy in itself. 

Scars on the Psyche

One of the most debilitating but least talked-about injuries from the 9/11 attacks are psychological and emotional trauma. So many people have lost so much, and for many, the tragedy of loss and the horrors of what they have seen are forever burned into their minds, adversely affecting how they live their lives.

Unlike visible wounds or physical conditions, these scars on the mind are largely invisible, yet responsible for the victims’ continued suffering, even a decade after the tragedy.

If you recognize any of these health problems in yourself and you were around the area during and immediately after the 9/11 attacks, consider asking for help in registering to the WTCHP so you can get the help you need, especially in this time of the CoViD-19 pandemic where any comorbidities or compromise to your immune system acquired from the tragedy may spell the difference between life and death.

What did the 9/11 attacks take from you, and what did it leave in you? Would you consider registering to the WTCHP? Share your thoughts in the comments.