Steve Buscemi Reveals He Had PTSD After Working At Ground Zero On 9/11 – Steve Buscemi was at Ground Zero just hours after the 9/11 attacks trying to rescue survivors, and his heroism left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Steve Buscemi Reveals He Had PTSD After Working At Ground Zero On 9/11:
Steve Buscemi is reflecting on 9/11 ahead of the 20th anniversary of the tragic event.
The Golden Globe and Emmy winner wrote an op-ed for Time, reflecting on his time volunteering as a firefighter after the terrorist attack. The 63-year-old star begins by sharing how before he became an actor, he was a fireman at Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan. After deciding to pursue his acting career, he “took a leave of absence, figuring I’d be back.”
“Seventeen years later, I was. One of the strongest sensations that flooded over me on Sept. 11, 2001, was that feeling of connection,” Buscemi writes. “The next morning, I grabbed my old gear, got a lift to the site and found a place on a bucket brigade.”
The actor recalls the rubble coming down, seeing “disturbing” scenes, his face mask clogged with debris and somebody saying, “This is probably going to kill us in 20 years.”
“Well, it didn’t take 20 years. Debilitating chronic conditions surfaced before the pile was even cleared. Today more people are thought to have died from toxic exposure at the 9/11 site than died that day,” he shares, explaining the ongoing health effects from that day, before detailing how he felt.
“It actually felt good to be there. I was on the site for less than a week, but it wasn’t until I got home that the magnitude of it all caught up with me,” he shares. “I was already seeing a therapist, and though it was almost impossible to process the enormity of what had happened, just having someone with whom to sit with all the feelings was a consolation. It’s not something first responders usually get.”
Steve Buscemi Opens Up About What He Saw At Ground Zero After 9/11 Attacks:
Buscemi goes on to share how difficult it was for many firemen and “for people whose primary identity is as a protector” to cope after 9/11, and how New Yorker Nancy Carbone started Friends of Firefighters, an organization that provides free mental-health counseling to the active and the retired and their families.
“‘Never forget,’ everyone said. Some people have no choice. What’s surprising is who has to be reminded,” the actor expresses, adding that shortly after the attack, “Congress created a Victim Compensation Fund to help first responders cope with the aftermath.”
“Never forget, because people are still struggling. People are still dying,” he concludes his essay.
Throughout the 1980s, the celebrated actor worked as a firefighter with Engine 55 in New York City. When the attacks occurred, the Emmy-winning star quickly jumped in to help. While speaking on the podcast “WTF With Marc Maron,” Steve said he called his old firehouse several times in the immediate aftermath of the attacks but couldn’t get anyone to answer the telephone, so he headed toward the sight of the World Trade Center. There, he found his old company.
“I asked if I could join them,” Steve, 63, recalled. “I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, but I worked with them that day.”
The experience and memories of that day had a lasting effect on his mental health.
“I haven’t experienced any health issues, and I get myself checked out — but definitely, yeah, post-traumatic stress? Absolutely,” Steve said. “I was only there for like five days, but when I stopped going and tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard.”
The New York Post shared a grainy image of the actor at Ground Zero on 9/11, but few photos exist, as Steve reportedly refused pictures and interviews.
After five days of 12-hour shifts sifting through the wreckage, the “Reservoir Dogs” star said he was left “depressed.”
“I was anxious,” he said. “I couldn’t make a simple decision.”
Now, 20 years after that fateful day, he still thinks of his emotionally-draining experience with his fellow first responder heroes.
“There are times when I talk about 9/11 and I’m right back there,” he said. “I start to get choked up and I realize, ‘Ah, this is still a big part of me.’ “