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Posted: 12/26/2001 9:40:06 AM EDT
I am posting this thread because we have quite a few military people who are on this board. ================================================================== Los Angeles Times: Few Pentagon Attack Survivors Asking for Aid [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000102179dec26.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dnation[/url] RESPONSE TO TERROR Few Pentagon Attack Survivors Asking for Aid Relief: Donations pile up, but a military culture means many won't seek funds. Much of the money will go to scholarships. By FAYE FIORE TIMES STAFF WRITER December 26 2001 WASHINGTON -- John Alexander left his desk for lunch one recent afternoon and when he came back, 17 phone messages were waiting, virtually every one a caller looking to give money to victims of the Pentagon tragedy. That week alone, $1.5 million crossed his desk at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, along with a box of teddy bears from an Episcopal church in Texas. More than three months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the money still pours in. But while thousands of families in New York are stymied by red tape and a blizzard of forms, the frustration in Washington is more often among relief groups trying to locate the victims who are eligible for the millions of dollars waiting to be given away. The Pentagon survivors are hardly clamoring for charity. Some have turned away offers to help. Many have yet to ask for it. Still others may be unaware of the ever-growing pool of cash donated specifically for their cause, there "for the asking," as one relief worker put it. "We still have a number of families who have not asked us for anything," said retired Army Col. Dennis Spiegel of the nonprofit Army Emergency Relief Society, which has $2.2 million holding in a Pentagon victims fund. "If you look at the list of casualties, there are a number of lieutenant colonels, sergeant majors and one three-star Army general. They may not need anything. They may feel it's embarrassing to ask. We are trying to break through that. People have donated money specifically for these families and want to take care of them." When it comes to the 189 lives lost at the Pentagon, there is a sense that the tragedy has been overshadowed by the scale of the catastrophe in New York, where nearly 3,000 were killed. The Pentagon disaster alone would have been the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil if not for the collapse of the twin towers, a fact sometimes lost in the groundswell of attention that has focused on New York's devastation. But a closer look reveals a community that, for the most part, is being quietly tended by a military apparatus with expertise in dealing with death in the line of duty, an insular culture that prides itself on taking care of its own. By 4:30 a.m. Sept. 12, an assistance officer was knocking on the door of Andrea Doctor, whose husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Johnnie Doctor, was killed at the Pentagon only hours before. She was so distraught, she could not remember how to spell the names of her own children. It didn't matter; her caseworker ushered her through the bureaucratic maze, and Andrea Doctor did not have to fill out a single form.
Link Posted: 12/26/2001 9:42:46 AM EDT
Ann Parham, a civilian Army librarian who suffered second-degree burns when a fireball rolled over her, had her lost wages covered by employment insurance--which would have paid for her plastic surgery too, had a physician not donated his services. The government bureaucracy could do little to repair the emotional wreckage of Sept. 11, but it went a long way toward softening the financial blow. Like others directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon victims are eligible for tax-free awards from the government's Victims Compensation Fund, which last week announced that beneficiaries could receive payments averaging $1.6 million. That amount, however, will be reduced by the amount of money they receive from other federal benefits, life insurance and pension benefits. Donations they receive from any private charities would not affect the payout. Unlike the eclectic group of people killed at the World Trade Center and on the four hijacked planes, the survivors of uniformed military personnel also are eligible for $250,000 in life insurance, a $6,000 death gratuity, six months of free government housing, nearly $7,000 in burial costs, Social Security benefits, health care coverage and counseling. Civilians were afforded other compensation and, in a special order by the Defense Department, were assigned military caseworkers. All of that is separate and apart from what some estimate is more than $100 million in donations raised by Washington-area charities, many of which gathered this month in frustration over how to get the waiting funds to those who need them. "I know we've been providing help. But I was sitting in a room with a bunch of other organizations that have in some cases almost 10 times as much money accrued for this relief effort and haven't paid out a dime. That's frustrating to me," said Robyn Kehoe, Washington representative for the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund, a private nonprofit set up in 1986 to assist civilian federal employees in need. The fund has collected $2.5 million and has paid out about $250,000 for mortgages, funerals, utilities, tuition and the like. With most of the urgent needs met--caseworkers say they know of no family in dire straits--the next challenge is making families aware of the mountain of cash still available as they adapt to their changed lives. Finding them is the hard part. By law, the armed services cannot release the names and addresses of victims, leaving the charities to track them down. Many agencies are still not sure they have a complete list, and there is concern that some people are not applying for assistance because they don't know it's there. "You know there's a need and you're sitting there with the money--the money is not the issue," said Greg Mason, deputy director for finance for the Army Emergency Relief Society, which operates independently of the U.S. Army. "But it's not like you put an ad in the newspaper and say all victims come see me. It's Dick Tracy kind of work." Just last week, the Navy relief corps paid the $2,000 tuition bill of a boy whose father was killed in the Pentagon attack. The money might never have been delivered had a neighbor who worked for the relief group not brought the case to light.
Link Posted: 12/26/2001 9:43:25 AM EDT
We made her [the widow's] Christmas, just like that," Alexander said. Other eligible families have moved away. A career in the military means an itinerant lifestyle and, for many, a three-year stop at the Pentagon is a routine stop on the career ladder. One widow with two small children went back home to Arizona on Oct. 11. "I'm not sure anybody has her forwarding address," said Elizabeth Miller of the Washington Regional Assn. of Grantmakers, which promotes philanthropy. "These people were so overwhelmed with their loss, they may not have been thinking 'I need to go fill out this form.' It's understandable. We haven't had a good system to this point to reach them. Only now can we make a concerted effort if we can get the list from the Pentagon." The grantmakers' group is compiling a database that will list precisely what money is available and who is eligible, Miller said. It will also help channel money to the indirect victims of the attacks, those who lost jobs as a result of closed businesses and faltering tourism. Meanwhile, some groups are sitting tight as the cash rolls in, hoping to use it for unforeseen needs. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, for example, raised $500,000 in the month after Sept. 11 and has so far paid out a "minuscule" amount for part of one Jewish burial, spokesman Steven Slater said. "We decided to pull back a little bit to see where we could be the most effective," he said. For those victims who manage to contact the right agency, checks are written almost instantly. The Navy relief corps has paid out $50,000 so far--$40,000 of it to wipe out a widow's student loans simply because she thought to ask. The Army relief society heard a burn victim needed special clothing and paid for it in a day. But some victims have turned help away, characteristic of a military culture more prepared to accept the likelihood of death or injury and then move on. "I don't know what has been collected, nor do I feel there is any reason for me to ask for any of it," said Parham, the Army librarian who was burned. "I'm blessed; I'm alive. My medical injuries have been taken care of. I think there are plenty of other people who were impacted who might need it more." With so few requests for assistance, many charities have marked the money for scholarships--so much so that officials say the educational needs of every spouse and child of Pentagon victims can be covered, including four children not yet born at the time of the attack. "All of the children's college educations are taken care of, without a doubt," Miller said. "Spouses who want to go back to school, people that need to be retrained, there is money there--for the asking." What the charities cannot do is simply divvy up the money and hand out checks. By law, a need must be established, but the bar is low as caseworkers hunt for more names, eager to assist. "All they have to say is, 'My husband got burned; he needs special clothes.' And boom, the check is there," Mason of the Army relief society said. "Our determination of need is as liberal as humanly possible. All they've got to do is ask." For information about reprinting this article, go to http://www.lats.com/rights
Link Posted: 12/26/2001 2:36:46 PM EDT
The family members of the WTC attack have pissed me off enough with their "why isn't the gummint giving us more money!!" bullshit. They are going receive 1.6 million a piece. Some of these assholes just want money so they can maintain their lavish lifestyles. If 1.6 MILLION freakin' dollars ain't enough to tide your dumbass over get a fuckin' job or move into a smaller damn house!
Link Posted: 12/26/2001 8:43:44 PM EDT
Yeah, I was getting really tired of the women whining on TV about how they had to go and (gasp! horror!) drive into manhatten and stand in line to fill out forms to prove they werent frauds. That and the constant whine "why dont the charities have a master list so they can come to us?". Someone needs to get on Bill O'Riellys butt and find out if he is goint to check in the comming years that this money the widows from the WTC get is going to pay morgages and rent and school bills of their children- and not to keep up their pre-attack lifestyles of jewles, furs and new cars every year or to finance trysts in the Bahamas with their new boyfriend/lovers/significant others...
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