Today, Americans are honoring those we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, including those who were in the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
I will be taking time out to remember those Wall Street friends, former co-workers, and acquaintances who were taken away too soon. I will wonder what their lives would have been like, if they had been spared.
At the same time, the impacts of that day continue to the present for many Americans especially those whose lives and health have been permanently affected by the terrorist attacks 18 years ago.
Many among us are taking steps to help those who were directly impacted.
Earlier this year, comedian Jon Stewart and Luis G. Alvarez, a former New York City police detective, captured the spotlight to draw attention to the plight of the first responders to 9/11 who later got very sick.
Sadly, Mr. Alvarez, who was only 53, died in June from his 9/11-related illness. But before he died, he helped make Congress pass the much-needed extension of health care benefits for the police, firefighters and others who rushed to the scenes of the attacks on that horrible day. His obituary in The New York Times can be found here.
The passage of that extension appears to be as wise as it is compassionate.
A case in point is a new study by JAMA Network, an online resource of the American Medical Association (AMA). The authors of the study have found via a “cohort study of 9796 firefighters, age-adjusted incident rates of cardiovascular disease were higher for firefighters with greater World Trade Center exposure. Both acute World Trade Center, as well as repeated exposure during 6 or more months at the World Trade Center site, appeared to be associated with long-term elevated cardiovascular disease risk.”
The researchers add that, “These findings suggest the continued need for long-term monitoring of the health of survivors of disasters.”
It also means that it’s possible that many more 9/11 first responders may need long-term care than once thought. The full report can be found here.
It’s worth noting that at a time when the endless news cycle overwhelms us and stories are forgotten in minutes, 9/11 is one of those events etched forever in our minds, hearts and souls.
It’s a reminder, too, that we must do what we can to help 9/11 survivors and anyone coping with the aftereffects of any disaster.