Joined: Mar 17, 2005
|Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:18 pm Post subject: Ailing 9/11 Responder to Sit in Balcony at State of Union
|For Immediate Release
January 31, 2006
Contact: Afshin Mohamadi
Ailing 9/11 Responder to Sit in Balcony at State of the Union
Bethea, as guest of Rep. Maloney, hopes Washington will pay attention to 9/11 health crisis, need for 9/11 health czar
WASHINGTON, DC - As the 9/11 health crisis worsens, an ailing 9/11 hero is in Washington to watch the State of the Union in person - and to deliver a message of need. Marvin Bethea, a paramedic who was buried when responding to the 9/11 attacks and has since suffered serious health effects, will sit in the visitors gallery as the guest of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) when President Bush addresses Congress and the nation. He will be there to represent the thousands of sick and injured 9/11 responders.
Bethea hopes to raise awareness of the continuing, and in many cases worsening, health conditions of 9/11 responders who spent days and weeks in the toxic soup around Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks. Rep. Maloney has written to President Bush to apprise him of Bethea's visit and mission, and to again call for a federal 9/11 health czar to coordinate the government's response to the health crisis (http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/013006Bethea.pdf ).
"Mr. Bethea and the thousands of other ailing heroes were there for us when we needed help the most. To this point, the federal government has not been there for them," said Maloney. "Whatever happened to 'We will never forget'?
"Mr. Bethea will watch the president give his assessment of the state of the union. Reality is that the state of our union is made weaker when we don't help our 9/11 heroes."
"We have been victims of 9/11 once, don't let us be victims twice," said Bethea.
Just last week, Bethea joined Maloney, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) and other 9/11 responders and health professionals at Ground Zero to call on Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to appoint a 9/11 Health Czar.
It is believed that tens of thousands of first responders, federal employees and lower Manhattan residents and workers are suffering from health problems likely caused by exposure to toxins at or near the World Trade Center site, including asbestos, lead, mercury, powdered glass and other carcinogens that were stagnating in the air.
Just weeks after responding to 9/11, Bethea suffered a stroke attributed to the stress of 9/11. He lost use of his right arm and leg, but after physical therapy, he went back to work. In May of 2003, Bethea was diagnosed for asthma and 9/11-related depression. He has been seeing a psychologist at Mt Sinai since July of 2003.
The federal government does not have a single individual overseeing and coordinating the response to the health impacts of 9/11 and to date, there has been a lack of federal funding for treatment of 9/11 responders. The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program found that roughly half of the 16,000 people followed have a medical condition resulting from 9/11. A New York City Fire Department study reported similar findings.
Other screening programs have not fared as well. One initiative geared to State workers was terminated while another for federal rescue workers was closed after screening only 400 of the approximately 10,000 federal responders at Ground Zero.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)