President Obama's address to the nation on Sunday night concerning Osama bin Laden was an extraordinary, historic event. As he noted, the successful military operation came nearly 10 years since the worst attack on the American people in our history. The most wanted man in the world, bin Laden was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
But I was particularly moved when the President reminded us that "the worst images of 9-11 are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child's embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts."
According to news reports, the President will meet with a group of 9-11 family members this week. As we approach September 11, 2011, it's important for all of us to remember the thousands of Americans who were directly affected by this tragedy.
Heightened public awareness, extensive media coverage, and special events commemorating the 10th anniversary will not only serve to honor victims and heroes, but can also serve to re-open emotional wounds.
MHA-NYC recently announced an innovative program, 9-11 Healing and Remembrance Program, designed to provide emotional support for the 9-11 community, including those planning to participate in 10th anniversary activities to be held in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania
This will include a toll-free hotline (1-866-212-0444) and a website with mental health support and information regarding 9-11 10th Anniversary events. Travel aid will be available for eligible family members who'd like to attend anniversary events at the three sites. Comfortable and private meeting areas will be arranged for family members at each site.
In addition, counseling and supportive services will be available at the Family Support Centers. Family members can also access educational information about the emotional effects of anniversaries on people exposed to traumatic events.
As one of my colleagues recently noted, this program has a simple message for the thousands of Americans who were left with what the President described as a "gaping hole" in their hearts after 9-11.
We're here for you. You are not alone.