Remembering 9/11: The Enduring Health Effects and the Path Forward.
By: Sunny Kern
Sunny Kern is a rising junior at Baruch College pursuing degrees in psychology and philosophy with a minor in film. Having completed coursework in creative writing, journalism, and digital media, she has developed a strong understanding of storytelling and how to tailor messaging to specific audiences. As
well as working as co-editor of Today's Patient, she also works on the communications team. In addition to her academic experience, she has been a social media intern in the Admissions Office of Baruch College, where she has been responsible for creating content on various platforms.
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, had immediate and profound consequences for the United States and the world. Beyond the immediate devastation, there have been enduring long-term side effects that continue to shape the lives of individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole. There are five key areas where the long-term side effects of 9/11 are most pronounced: health impacts, changes in security and foreign policy, economic repercussions, social and psychological effects, and the lasting legacy of the event.
The health impacts of 9/11 have been substantial and ongoing. First responders and those living near Ground Zero were exposed to toxic dust and fumes, leading to respiratory illnesses, cancers, and mental health issues. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was established to provide financial support for these individuals, highlighting the lasting health consequences of the attacks.
Security and Foreign Policy
The attacks fundamentally altered U.S. security and foreign policy. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act marked a significant shift toward increased surveillance and security measures. The U.S. also initiated the War on Terror, leading to long-term military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, with far-reaching consequences for global geopolitics.
Economically, 9/11 had profound and lasting effects. The stock market plummeted, and businesses in Lower Manhattan suffered extensive damage. The subsequent recession had far-reaching consequences for employment, investment, and government spending. The economic impacts continue to influence fiscal policies and priorities today. The economic downturn following 9/11 resulted in widespread job losses and financial instability. This disproportionately affected low-income individuals and minority communities who often had fewer financial resources to fall back on.
Social and Psychological Effects
9/11 brought about a sense of vulnerability and fear among the American population. The trauma experienced by survivors, witnesses, and the nation as a whole has left lasting scars. It also contributed to increased prejudice and discrimination, particularly against Muslim and Arab communities, highlighting the importance of addressing these issues in the long term.
The legacy of 9/11 is one of remembrance and resilience. Memorials like the 9/11 Memorial and Museum serve as a reminder of the lives lost and the heroism displayed. The event has shaped the collective memory of a generation and continues to influence national discourse on issues such as immigration, civil liberties, and international relations.
As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is essential to acknowledge the enduring impact of the economic aftermath on the health and well-being of society, particularly affecting disadvantaged groups. Organizations like “9/11 Health Watch” advocate for individuals exposed to toxins during and after the attacks and work to ensure they receive necessary medical and mental health support. As we remember the lives lost on that fateful day, let us also renew our commitment to health, equity, and resilience in the face of adversity. Recognizing and addressing these long-term effects remains a critical aspect of understanding the broader implications of this tragic event.