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FEBRUARY 9 , 2007




Next week the Senate will begin to mark-up its version of the recently passed House bill (H.R. 1), legislating implementation of the remaining 9/11 Commission reforms.  I am hopeful that as the Senate works through this process they will have the fortitude to preserve the integrity of the Commission’s recommendations.  Several areas of particular importance are improving first responder communications, ensuring screening of air cargo on passenger planes, and congressional reform to ensure effective oversight.  According to former 9/11 Commission Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton, "If this bill...is enacted, funded and implemented, then the American people will be safer."  Congress now has an opportunity, and more importantly a responsibility, to enact these necessary and long overdue reforms. VOICES will continue to provide you with updates on the status of this critical legislation. 


As you know, this coming Wednesday is Valentine’s Day – an opportunity to acknowledge the special people in our lives. I know first hand that Valentine’s Day is a reminder not just of the absence of my son Brad, but also the special place in my heart that will always be reserved for him. The day is also a time for me to give thanks to my wonderful family and the many friends I’ve made among the growing 9/11 community, including many of you. I will be thinking of you and your loved ones on Valentine's Day, and I hope that you are surrounded by family and friends. Feel free to contact our office if you would like to talk with a VOICES mental health professional.


Our best wishes to you and your families,


Mary Fetchet

Founding Director






"Loving Still - and Again" by Dr. Robin F. Goodman


Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, births – these are just some of many occasions when loved ones are ever present in our thoughts. The pain and heartache felt after the death of someone dear can be particularly unbearable at those times. For the bereaved, the pain is often felt both emotionally and physically especially in the early days after a death, but can stretch on for months and even years. Saying “there is a hole in my heart”, “I feel like I had the wind knocked out of me”, “my heart aches”; vividly describe how it feels inside and out. The longing and missing of a loved one who has died – brother, father, sister, friend, mother, grandchild, fiancé, co-worker – can last a lifetime. It is a testament to the special bond shared with another.  


As time passes, it can be necessary as well as helpful to adjust to life without the person. This can mean finding a way to emotionally relocate the loved one who died while keeping an inner sense of him or her. It can be immensely difficult to change from having a special, intimate relationship with someone in the present, to relating to someone in one’s mind and memory. Carrying forth positive memories from a relationship in the past can be sustaining and comforting even though it does not provide the same sustenance and comfort as if the person were alive... read more.  

9/11 Living Memorial Feature


Survivor's Story: "9/11" by Brendan Chellis


Collecting the accounts of 9/11 survivors is an important part of the 9/11 Living Memorial's mission to preserve the lives and stories of September 11th. This week, we spotlight a gripping survivor's narrative by Brendan Chellis, who arrived just a few minutes late to work that morning at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in the North Tower. Brendan is shown at left completing the Oklahoma City memorial half-marathon in 2003 (click to read more about his trip to Oklahoma). He was walking to the elevator in the lobby of Tower One when the building shook and the lobby filled with smoke. His powerful account of experience and emotion on 9/11 is fascinating reading for those who wish to know more about the dramatic events of that fateful day. It is a story of courage and outrage, horror and honor. Please be advised that parts or the story are graphic and could be difficult for some people. His story begins:


"Why did the worst day of our lives start out so nice? Weather-wise, September 11th was beautiful. It was one of those days that you picture them having all the time in California. There literally was not a cloud in the sky. The weather man was promising a high of around 80 degrees.

"That day happened to be a “suit day”. One day a week I used to wear a suit. Since we are allowed to dress down at Empire, I needed an excuse to get my nice clothes out of the closet so they wouldn’t get all dusty. And there’s no better way to tell if you’re getting fat than by wearing a suit on a regular basis. They don’t lie. So one day a week I would wear a suit. Now when it was warm, I wouldn’t really wear a full suit. Everything but the jacket. I really wish I wore a pair of sneakers that day..." read "9/11" by Brendan Chellis.




9/11 Family Viewing Room at WTC Site Will Move


The 9/11 family viewing room located at Liberty and Washington Streets will be closed and moved to another site later this month. The current trailer lies above an area slated to be excavated as part of the remains search and construction. It will close following a ceremony on February 26, 2007 to commemorate the 1993 WTC bombing. A new family trailer will be installed above the PATH Station on Church Street and will open March 5. The new site provides views of construction work, and will provide family members with a private space where they can pay their respects to their loved ones. The family room on the 20th floor at 1 Liberty Plaza will remain open. Volunteer family members will move all the personal items in the current family room and redisplay them at the new location. The side of the family room is show above in a December, 2005 photo... Read more of this article


Publicity Spikes 50% Jump in New Enrollments at Mt. Sinai


New enrollments in the WTC Health monitoring and treatment program at Mount Sinai's World Trade Center health clinic grew by 50 percent last month. 600 new patients, mostly rescue, recovery and cleanup workers enrolled in the program, claiming that they have suffered from exposure to WTC dust and debris. The dramatic surge is linked to widespread publicity following the death of Ceasar Borja, Sr. and his son's efforts to secure additional funding for the Mount Sinai program and others. Ceasar Borja's death of lung disease brought on by Ground Zero pollutants "increased awareness" about 9/11 health concerns and spurred a new wave of patients, Mount Sinai spokesman Leslie Schwartz is quoted in NY Post coverage. To learn more about the program or to enroll, visit them online at www.wtcexams.org.




Issue Spotlight: Screening Cargo in Passenger Airplanes


H.R. 1, the major 9/11 Reforms legislation passed last month in the House, calls for 100% screening of cargo loaded on passenger airplanes by 2010. The legislation is a serious response to a serious security loophole. VOICES has worked for years in cooperation with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders to close the loophole. As Mary Fetchet described the situation in a May, 2005 CNN article: "By double-locking the front door and leaving the back wide open, the DHS has neglected its responsibility to provide the highest standard of security available to the American people." The cargo provisions in H.R. 1, long urged by Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Christopher Shays (R-CT), would close and lock that door emphatically if implemented. Mary Fetchet is shown in the picture above with Reps. Markey and Maloney at a press conference touting the passage of H.R. 1. They are holding a cartoon showing a man stripped to his underwear being searched by an airport employee while unscreened cargo passes through without inspection... Click to read more.


Click here to visit VOICES for Change's updated Airline Travel security page.






White House Releases Dept. of Homeland Security Budget Request


Budget figures are notoriously difficult to understand and open to flexible interpretations, but some points have become clear in recent media coverage:


Overall, the DHS budget is expected to grow from 5-10% over last year. A DHS fact sheet claims the White House's request totals $46.4 billion, but CongressDaily coverage reports about "$37.7 billion in total discretionary spending." Click to read a summary of the DHS budget request from the White House Office of Management and Budget.


Interoperable communications will get a boost from a $1 billion line item for the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) grant program. According to the DHS fact sheet: "Funds requested through these programs will (1) provide critical assistance to State and local homeland security efforts, (2) support resources available through other federal assistance programs that center on first responder terrorism preparedness activities, and (3) deliver ample support to all State and local first responder organizations to obtain the equipment, training, and other resources required to protect the public in the event of a terrorist attack or other major incident. DHS expects that funding to come from a sale of radio spectrum this fall... click to read more.


VOICES e-Newsletter will continue to spotlight important items in the DHS budget, as well as reactions from state and local leaders, in future weeks.

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VOICES of September 11 th is a nonpartisan advocacy group .
VOICES provides services and advocates for families and all those affected by September 11th; promotes public policy reform on prevention, preparedness and response to terrorism;
and builds bridges between international communities changed by terrorism.