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Army Reserve responds terrorist attacks - Attack on America - terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, September 11, 2001 - Illustration
Army Reservists have been on the front lines of "the first war of the 21st century" since the morning September 11, 2001.
by Lt. Col. Randy Pullen
Although most of the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR), is located a few blocks from the Pentagon, the office of the Chief, Deputy Chief and Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve is in the Pentagon. A number of OCAR staff members were in the Pentagon Tuesday morning for meetings and other business. There was also a meeting of the Army Reserve Forces Policy Council going on in the building, which brought together a number of Army Reserve general and senior officers from various commands. Finally, there were also Active Guard Reserve (AGR) soldiers assigned to other agencies in the Pentagon, as well as Army Reservists who hold civilian jobs in the Pentagon.
When American Airlines Flight 77 hit the west side of the Pentagon and a number of Army offices, AGR Lieutenant Colonels Victor Correa and Isabelle Slifer, both assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, headquarters, Department of the Army, helped others escape the building. News accounts report that many survivors remember being guided by Correa's booming voice, guiding them to safety through the blinding smoke.
AGR Lt. Col. Sean Kelly and a co-worker, Capt. Darrell Oliver, lifted a desk off of a secretary. Oliver then put the woman on his back and carried her out of the Pentagon.
An AGR officer assigned to ODCSPER, Lt. Col. David Scales, was among the 125 Pentagon workers killed.
As the Pentagon evacuated following the attack, many Army Reservists moved to where they could help.
Col. Malcolm B. Westcott, Deputy Chief of the Army Reserve (DCAR), and Brig. Gen. John W. Weiss, Commanding General of the 330th medical Brigade, Fort Sheridan, Ill., the latter at the Pentagon for the ARFPC meeting, moved to where an open-air emergency triage area had been set up on the grass near the Pentagon and started helping the injured. They knew they could help.
Westcott is a former medic who has earned the Expert Field medical badge and Weiss is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, as well as a Transfusion Medicine Physician. For a while, they ceased being tow senior Army Reserve officers and did what came instinctively.
"I'm a medic first, I'm the DCAR second," Westcott later said.
Also helping to treat the injured was Col. Ed Wakayama, an Army Reserve Medical Service Corps officer on a one-year tour of duty with the Director for Operational Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense. After exiting the building, he helped perform triage and administered IVs to those who were in shock and who had lost body fluids. He then turned to help the Red Cross in setting up blood draw operations.
More Army Reservists headed to the Pentagon from nearby Crystal City. Capt. Calvin Wineland from OCAR Operations, rushed from a computer class at the Presidential Plaza to check on his children at the Pentagon childcare center. He found them and his wife, Maj. Desiree Wineland, another AGR officer assigned to OCAR in the Public Affairs and Liaison Directorate. All were safe in the area where the children had been relocated after the plane hit. She had sprinted to the childcare center from OCAR's offices in Crystal City. Before he could take his family home in their Sport Utility Vehicle, Wineland was stopped and asked to take a badly burned soldier to the hospital. Along with an Army major, an Air force technical sergeant and several Department of the Army civilians, Wineland unloaded the SUV and they put the soldier in the back. When their police escort hesitated to leave the area with all that was taking place at the Pentagon, a Navy sailor on a motorcycle came along and said that he would act as an escort to the hospital. Led by the sailor motorcyclist, they made a mad dash for the hospital, running over sidewalks, medians, and going against traffic to get the wounded soldier there. When they arrived at the hospital, the motorcyclist admitted that he had never been to Georgetown's Medstar Hospital but somehow he led them directly there.
Other Army Reservists also did what they could to help. Command Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Reserve Alex Ray Lackey and his Executive Assistant, Sgt. First Class Paul Mantha, formed a litter team, which included an Army lieutenant general and a colonel.
The fire from the burning airplane and reports of other airplanes approaching the Pentagon kept the litter teams back. They found other ways to support an army of fire fighters and other rescue personnel that now descended on the Pentagon.
Retired Army Reserve Col. William Croom, Assistant Deputy, and AGR Lt. Col. Douglas Thomson, the Executive Officer and Assistant for Army Reserve Logistics, were both in their Pentagon offices when the attack occurred.
The force of the impact was so great that it flung people against the wall or out of their chairs. Croom and Thomson went into action immediately. Their concern was to get people evacuated and to secure the area.
For seven hours after exiting the building, Croom and Thomson assisted medical personnel as litter bearers moving injured people to a safe place, setting up triage sites, and also acting as comforters to soothe distraught victims.
Maj Michael Coughlin of the OCAR Legal Counsel's Office, became the senior Army representative at the on-site FBI Command Post, helping to coordinate information. He later helped set up the temporary morgue.
His final act of the day, after midnight, was to coordinate with the Arlington County (Va.) Fire Department to have the first American flag, contributed by the U.S. Marines at Quantico, flown at the impact site.
While all this was taking place at the Pentagon, there was an even greater tragedy unfolding in New York City. Army Reservists were at "Ground Zero," too. Included in the thousands of people in the World Trade Center and the hundreds of firefighters are rescue workers lost while trying to rescue them were a number of army Reserve soldiers.
"Among the hundreds of firefighters who lost their lives when the twin towers collapsed are at least five of our own -- Army Reserve soldiers carrying out their civilian jobs to help their fellow citizens, "said Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, Chief, Army Reserve, one week after the attacks. "We are still learning of others who are missing."
Many of the first to respond came from the South Manhattan District fire battalion. The fire battalion commander is Bill Blaich, an Army Reserve colonel who is an Individual Mobilization Augmentee with the Military Traffic Management Command.
Days later, he was able to get to a computer and send out an email, explaining to his superiors at MTMC that he was unable to be activated for Reserve duty. He had been on the Staten Island Ferry moving to the World Trade Center when Tower 1 collapsed.
"This week has been a horror," he wrote. "Lower Manhattan collapsed. I can't answer your request for 72-hour activation at this time. As soon as the situation stabilizes I will gladly toss my name into the ring.
"Regards to all and thanks for keeping me in your thoughts. A little prayer for the missing wouldn't hurt either. We're looking for over 350 firefighters alone."
His firefighter son was on the 25th floor of Tower 1 when it collapsed. Blaich called his wife when he found out he had been found alive and gave her the one word answer that meant their son was okay: "Yes!"
Blaich is a Vietnam veteran. An Army Reservist since 1972, he was called up for duty during the Gulf War and later for Haiti. Now he is a veteran of a new war.
Other Army Reservists saw the tragedy as it came towards them. Army Reservist Thomas Sullivan was on the 95th floor of the World Trade Center when he looked our the window and saw the first airliner headed right toward him. It hit higher up and he was able to escape the building.
Roshan Singh had just finished Army Reserve training earlier this year. He felt he had an obligation to his country while also pursuing his career goals to become an engineer. He and his sister, Khamla, both worked at the Windows on the World restaurant atop the north tower. Both have been missing since September 11.
Retired Army Reserve Col. Rick Rescorla was security chief for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter at the World Trade Center. He was a combat veteran of Vietnam and a hero during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Survivors report that he was a hero this time, too, helping people to evacuate the building. Among the missing, it seems this time his luck ran out.
Three days after the attacks, on September 14, President George. W. Bush ordered a partial mobilization of up to 50,0000 reservists (10,000 from the Army Reserve Components).
"This indicates just how serous these attacks were for America," said the Chief of the Army Reserve. "During the Gulf War, we had a Presidential Selected Reserve Call up less than three weeks after Iraq invaded Kuwait, but a partial mobilization did not occur until five and a half months later."
As in 1990, however, the Army Reserve was already engaged before the partial mobilization order was ordered. Ten days after the attacks, the Army Reserve has seven units, one installation, six facilities and around 2300 personnel involved in support of operations.
Among the first to respond was the 77th Regional Support Command (RSC), which is headquartered in Flushing, N.Y. Key to the 77th's quick reaction were a trained and functioning Emergency Operations Center and responsive units. Hundreds of support items were appropriated and delivered in short order to assist in the disaster recovery effort. A laundry and bath unit quickly set up to support the mortuary operation.
Eighty-five soldiers of the 311th Quartermaster Company (Mortuary Affairs), 65th RSC, from Puerto Rico, left home on Friday, September 14. The next day, they were getting settled at Fort Myer, Va. By Monday, 17 September, they were at work on the grim task of recovering remains from the Pentagon attack and preparing them for shipment to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification.
For some of the 311th's soldiers, that Friday was their first drill with the unit since graduating form Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va., a few weeks earlier. Keeping a close eye on them as they perform this difficult mission will be a strong core of experienced leaders. Several of their NCOs were with the company when it deployed to the Persian Gulf and know first-hand the sort of work they are required to perform in the area next to the Pentagon.
Plewes envisioned calling up a limited number of units for as short a period as possible as Army Reserve call ups began under the partial mobilization on Sept. 22. Some continued or replenished recovery operations, because many of the Army Reserve soldiers supporting Army missions and assisting with disaster recovery are on a long-term mission. Other units are augmenting force protection activities at installations and other sites. Still others may be called to prepare for and support new operations.
Additionally, a large number of volunteers and inactive Army Reserve soldiers have stepped forward and offered to serve.
Since the first minutes of the attacks, Army Reserve citizen-soldiers have performed in the highest traditions of courage and self-sacrifice. The men and women of the Army Reserve are ready to do what the National Command Authority demands and what the Nations expects of them.
(Lt. Col. Pullen is with the Public Affairs and Liaison Directorate, Office of the Chief, Army Reserve, Washington DC)
AGR Capt. Calvin Wineland of OCAR Operations rushed from a computer class to check on his children at the Pentagon childcare center. His wife, AGR Maj. Desiree Wineland, beat him there from her office and had collected the kids.
Before the family could take off, Wineland was stopped and asked to take a badly burned soldier to the hospital. Wineland and passers-by unloaded the family vehicle and put the soldier in the back. A sailor on a motorcycle volunteered to escort the vehicle. After a mad dash to Georgetown Hospital in Washington, the sailor mentioned he'd somehow found his way though he'd never been there before.
A will to live.
by Patricia Ruth
After all that she had just gone through, she managed to place that usual smile on her face when she saw her fellow soldiers entering her hospital room. Sgt. Janice Jackson, former soldier in the 9th Theater Support Command (TSC), was one of the survivors in the Pentagon tragedy. She suffered third degree burns over parts of her body, but is in good spirits. She was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the burn unit.
Sgt. Jackson, the single mother of two girls Sherica and Jasmine, assumed that Tuesday morning would be just like any other morning. After getting to work and hearing about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, she and her co-workers began talking about the incident.
A short time later, Sgt. Jackson recalls that she heard a loud crash and before she knew it, debris was everywhere. "My main focus was getting out of there." Stated Sgt. Jackson and she began looking for an exit. She noticed a big hole in the wall and proceeded to exit through it with her co-workers. Raquel Kelley, one of Jackson's co-workers, got stuck coming out and yelled for Jackson to help her.
She returned to help her co-worker through the hole and immediately afterwards realized that she was on fire. Jackson said she literally crawled on her hands and knees through the fire, suffering burns to her head, back, And arms. According to Jackson, she was determined to make it out of there alive and that thinking of her children kept her going.
By the time she struggled free of the building, Jackson was severely burned and was taken by ambulance to the hospital's burn unit for treatment.
Sgt. Jackson works as a contractor for the Department of the Army installing computers at the Pentagon. At the time of the incident, she had only been working there for 9 months.
"She was in really good spirits and was thankful to everyone for their prayers," stated Staff Sgt. Sharon Riley, who works at the TSC. She visited Jackson in the hospital; "I was truly surprised to see her smiling," stated Riley, who was prepared for the worse after hearing of Sgt. Jackson's fate.
Sgt. Jackson is currently in the 55th TSC. She works on the PT Team at that unit. A unit member described her as a shining star in the NCO ranks with a positive attitude and a winning personality."
(Editor's note: At the time of publication, Sgt. Jackson had been released from hospital and was recovering from her injuries. Staff Sgt. Ruth is with the 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Fort Belvoir, Va.)
Reserve MP uses military, civilian training following attack.
by Michele Hammonds
Officer Arthur Rosati was in a meeting at the Pentagon near the metro entrance when he heard a blurb from his hand-held police radio.
Unable to hear the details, Rosati went out into the hall-way with George Clodfelter, his partner, so they could listen more clearly the morning the Pentagon was attacked on Sept. 11.
"The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and suddenly I had a bad feeling," said Rosati, a Defense Protective Service policeman.
There had been an explosion on the mall side, according to the special report. The two raced back to the meeting and ordered everyone there to evacuate the building immediately.
Rosati said he relied on both his military and civilian law enforcement training.
"I ran to the mall side to find out what had happened, and I tried to evacuate people on foot," said Rosati as his eyes filled with tears.
He paused and lowered his head as he recalled what happened next.
"I ran out to the impact area and I saw my partner had a streak of blood across his shirt." He said. After checking to make sure his partner was all right, Rosati continued to evacuate people.
Rosati, who was recently promoted to master patrol officer with the Defense Protective Service at the Pentagon -- wears two hats. Besides holding down a full-time job as a Pentagon police officer, he is a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve with 20 years of military service.
At the time of the explosion, Rosati couldn't see the cause but Wanda Ramey, a DPS master patrol officer, had a clear view. Ramey stood at the mall plaza booth when she saw a plane flying real low.
"I saw the wing of the plane clip the light post and it made the plane slant. Then the engine revved up and crashed into the west side of the building," she said. "It happened so fast. One second I saw the plane and next it was gone."
Recalling those moments again. Ramey said it appeared the building sucked the plane up inside.
"A few seconds later, I heard a loud boom and I saw a huge fireball and lots of smoke," she said.
Added another DPS officer who asked not to be identified, "I was on the other side - I heard a boom and a large fireball came over the roof of the building."
Ramey and another officer ran to the scene.
"People started flooding out of the building and some people looked like they were cut and bleeding," Ramey said. "Rosati was one of the officers over there pulling people out of the building.
Some fire and rescue crews were already on the scene, according to military officials.
The subsequent scene was "absolute pandemonium -- people were running and screaming," Rosati said. "One lady was screaming hysterically and I ordered someone to help her out of the building."
His evacuation attempts were hampered because he didn't have a gas mask and other equipment to protect him from the heavy smoke and heat that had engulfed the mall area inside the Pentagon.
"I tried to walk up further inside, but because of the heat and smoke I backed out," said Rosati, who urged others to get down low to help them breathe as they left the building.
Again Rosati reentered the building, desperate to evacuate others that he knew were still inside the building. He grabbed the fire extinguisher from a Pentagon DPS sergeant. Against the wishes of a sergeant, Rosati went up to the 2nd floor, corridor five.
"My sergeant yelled at me that I couldn't go in and I tried to run down there," he said. "I got hit with that smoke and heat and I had to get out of there -- I couldn't handle it."
Rosati said he felt helpless that he couldn't rescue anyone else from the Pentagon that now burned out of control on the mall side. Along with the rest of the DPS officers, he worked through the day and into the next day before going home to rest.
(Editor's Note: Arthur Rosati and Wanda Ramey spoke on behalf of Defense Protective Service Pentagon Police/Washington DC Lodge and the Fraternal Order of Police. Rosati is an Army Reservist and assigned to the 9th Theater Support Command, fort Belvoir, Va. Staff Sgt. Hammonds is with the 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, also located at Fort Belvoir.)
A First Class Outfit: The 311th Quartermaster Company on duty at the pentagon.by Randy Pullen
They are on a mission of national importance, doing what must be done. It is a job most others would prefer not to do.
They are the men and women of the Army Reserve's 311th Quartermaster Company (Mortuary Affairs) from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Their mission is to sift through the rubble from the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, looking for remains of the victims of that attack.
Their mission is a grim one. When American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the west side of the Pentagon on September 11, it carried some 10,000 gallons of jet fuel. The resulting explosion, fire and collapse of part of the building killed 124 people inside the Pentagon and 64 on the airliner. The condition of the bodies, buried under and mixed among tons of debris, is best not to be described. To do what needed to be done to recover the remains -- quickly, efficiently, with dignity and honor - would take a special sort of professional: the mortuary affairs specialist.
The mortuary affairs soldiers of the active Army's 54th Quartermaster Company from Fort Lee, Va., were on site by September 12. It quickly became clear that the mission to recover the remains from the Pentagon would take more of the highly trained specialists than the 54th had.
At about 10:30 a.m. on September 14, the call went out tot the Army Reserve's 65th Regional Support Command in Puerto Rico, the higher headquarters of the 311th QM Company.
Although President George W. Bush ordered a partial mobilization of the Reserves this same day, it was not in effect when the call came, nor would the first call-ups from it take place for a few days. Help was needed now, volunteers who would deploy in a training status for an anything but training type mission.
The first 85 soldiers of the 311th left Puerto Rico later that day. By the next day, Saturday, September 15, they were getting settled at Fort Myer, Va. By Monday, September 17, they were at work in the north parking lot of the Pentagon, working side-by-side with the FBI. After FBI agents searched the debris for evidence, the 311th soldiers went to work recovering remains and personnel effects and preparing them for shipment to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification.
Another 105 soldiers from Puerto Rico -- the rest of the 311th and augmentees from the 246th Quartermaster Company -- arrived on September 26. They were called up under the partial mobilization. The status for the original 85 volunteers had also changed from active duty for training to partial mobilization cal-up by this time, too.
For some of the 311th's soldiers, Friday the 14th was their first drill with the unit since graduating from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va., a few weeks earlier. Keeping a close eye on them as they perform this difficult mission was a strong core of experienced leaders. Several of their NCOs were with the company when it deployed to the Persian gulf and know first-hand the sort of work they are required to perform in the area next to the Pentagon.
One of the Gulf War vets is 1st Sgt. Jose Santiago. In his civilian job, he restores classic cars. He deployed with the company as a sergeant during Operation DESERT STORM and supported the 1st Armored Division. He wears the "Old Ironsides" combat patch on his right shoulder.
"This is different than in the desert," Santiago said. "There, bodies would be brought back to a forward collection point where we'd process the remains. Here, we're going through the rubble to find remains."
He said he saw "really nasty stuff" during the Gulf War but for the young soldiers in the company, this was going to be a big and difficult experience for them.
"I've got really good NCOs," Santiago said. "Seven of them -- six-men and one woman -- were with the company in the desert."
They and the other NCOs keep close watch on their soldiers, both on site and off.
Santiago said it was important to not let individual soldiers go off in a corner or isolate themselves from the others after they come off a shift at the site. They need to be kept informed of what is going on, they need to keep their minds busy, to go to the bowling alley or to engage in some physical training. He spoke from experience. He and his other NCOs are determined to make sure his soldiers benefit from that experience.
One of the youngest soldiers is Pvt. 2 Wilnette Perez-Padilla. She finished AIT at Fort Lee on August 28. Her first drill with the unit was on September 14.
"They asked for volunteers," she said. "My hand went up."
"It's a sad situation," she added, "but I'm extremely proud to be here to help our nation."
Her first day of operations at the Pentagon on September 17 started out by someone thanking her for what she was doing. That someone was the President of the United States.
Perez-Padilla was on hand, along with several other members of the 311th, when President Bush came by the Pentagon to meet with the reserve component chiefs. They got to shake his hand when he left that meeting. When told that the 311th was an Army Reserve company from Puerto Rico, the President exchanged a few words in Spanish with the company commander, 1st Lt. Hector Martinez.
After meeting the President, the 311th soldiers also visited with Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, Chief, Army Reserve. Then it was back to the north parking lot.
Soon, Perez-Padilla and her comrades were in biohazard suits and searching through tons of wreckage. The first day working in 12-hour shifts, the 311th went through 14 truck trailers full of debris. The remains they found were collected and bagged, for shipment to Dover AFB. Once the remains are identified, they can help bring some closure to the loved ones of the victims.
People around the Pentagon know what the 311th is doing and appreciate it.
"When we left the site the other day," Martinez said, "heading back to our barracks, people who saw us starting cheering and waving."
The Army Reserve also knows and appreciates what the citizen-soldiers of the 311th are doing.
"The 311th Quartermaster Company is a first-class outfit," the Chief of the Army Reserve said at a town hall meeting for the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR) on October 2.
Plewes told the OCAR staffers that the unit did not go through a 30-day mobilization process. The first part of the 311th was called up and on site within two to three days of the attack, with the whole unit up here within 11 days.
"This unit mobilized here, not at home station," he said.
"They're doing a very difficult job," Plewes said, describing the nature of the mission the Puerto Rican Reservists must accomplish. "They're doing it with professionalism, treating the remains with dignity."
"It's what you'd expect."
As tough as the job is at the Pentagon, the Army as the right soldiers doing it. They have confidence in themselves and in their unit. They know how important what they are doing is, to the Nation and to the families of those killed. They will keep at their mission until they finish it. And the mission will be done properly, just the way it should be done.
As the general said, it is what is expected of the Army Reserve. (Lt. Col. Pullen is with the Public Affairs and Liaison Directorate, Office of the Chief, Army Reserve.)
Coping with emotional responses to traumatic events.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has programs to help combat veterans deal with the emotional trauma of war. Those programs have enabled VA to become widely recognized within the medical community as a leader in helping people deal with the aftermath of emotional events.
The emotional effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and the Washington, D.C., area, will be felt by people everywhere. Those who were at the scene or have lost loved ones will have strong reactions. People who saw or heard about the attacks through the news media may also be very upset.
Traumatic events create fear, grief, horror, helplessness and the feeling of being overwhelmed. People may be bothered by nightmares or upsetting thoughts and pictures that come to mind. Young children may be upset, distracted, or out of sorts. These are normal reactions to very stressful events, and they usually get better with time.
People directly affected by tragedy, young children, people who have been through other traumatic events, and people with emotional problems may need extra help.
Things You Can Do
Whether directly affected by traumatic events or helping others through a difficult time, there are things to do.
Remember that everyone has his or her own pace for processing trauma. It is important to listen to and honor their own pace and ways of dealing with the situation.
Talk or spend time with people. Coping with stressful events is easier when people support each other. Follow your own natural inclination with regard to how much and to whom you talk.
If talking does not feel right, other forms of expression such as journal writing, hobbies, art, or other enjoyable activities are often helpful.
Find something positive you can do. Give blood. Join efforts in your community to respond to this tragedy. Talk to your children and other loved ones to make sure they are OK.
Let them know you understand their feelings.
Tell them that they really are safe.
Keep to your usual routines
Keep them from seeing too many frightening pictures of the events.
When To Seek Help
If a person is still upset a month after the attack, he or she may need to get extra help coping. The sources below have information about where to get more help if it is needed.
When To Get More Information:
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: www.ncptsd.org
This web site provides general information about trauma responses, research, and treatment, and has recently posted information about self-care, treatment, veterans, primary care clinicians and phases of responses in the aftermath of terrorism.
PTSD Alliance: www.PTSDAlliance.org
Provides educational information on PTSD to patients, families, and professionals.
Also call (877) 506-PTSD begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (877) 506-PTSD end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (877) 506-PTSD end_of_the_skype_highlighting toll-free to receive a free package of information about PTSD, including a video.
Sierra-Pacific Mental Illness Research Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC): http://mirecc.stanford.edu
Contains video streaming of presentations and journal articles on post-traumatic stress.
(Editor's Note: Information in this fact sheet courtesy of the Education Division of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care-System.)
IRS sets up special toll free number for families.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2001--The Internal Revenue Service announced Sept. 24 a special toll-free telephone number, , set up for taxpayers whose ability to meet their federal tax obligations has been affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.
This special number will help people cut through the red tape and get their tax questions answered quickly," IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said. "We don't want lingering tax questions to burden anyone during this challenging time."
The phone line is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in English and 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Spanish, Eastern time.
"We wanted to provide specialized assistance to the people directly impacted by these tragic events," said Ron Watson, Director, Customer Account Services for the IRS Wage and Investment Division.
Because of the unusual nature of the tragic events of Sept. 11, it is impossible for the IRS to know every circumstance that might affect taxpayers, officials said.
For more information on tax extensions and other tax issues, visit the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov
Taxpayers with questions not related to the terrorist attacks should visit the IRS Web site or call the regular IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040.
VA offers benefits for surviving family members
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced recently that it has a variety of programs to assist survivors of active-duty military members killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. VA officials expect these benefits would primarily affect military personnel who were killed in the jet crash into the Pentagon, although benefits would equally apply to active-duty members who died at the World Trade Center towers. For life insurance benefits in particular, VA expects there additionally will be payments to the families of reservists who were civilian employees or visitors at any of the locations attacked, or who were passengers on the planes.
Shortly after the attacks, VA began working with the casualty offices of the military services to expedite life insurance benefits as remains are identified. VA will give the highest priority to help surviving family members obtain their VA benefits.
VA has compiled information in "Veterans Benefits for Survivors" currently highlighted at http://www.vba.va.gov. In addition, because a significant portion of the population is veterans, VA expects that a large number of veterans were killed in the attacks in addition to the active-duty members. The widows and-widowers of these former servicemembers also may be eligible for certain benefits depending on income, whether the veteran had been rated with a serious disability, whether the veteran served in a period of war and other factors. More information about how VA services apply in individual cases is available from benefits counselors at 800-827-1000.
When an active-duty member dies at work or in the line of duty, the death is considered service-connected whether accidental or due to a hostile force. VA pays a basic monthly rate of $911 to eligible surviving spouses. In some cases, VA can pay more, such as an adjustment for each dependent child. Under this program, called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, the basic rate is adjusted annually and payments continue indefinitely, generally until the death or remarriage of the spouse.
Most servicemembers and reservists take VA's life insurance coverage, though a few decline coverage. VA expects most will have opted for life insurance coverage at the highest levels, setting payments as high as $250,000. VA is ready to process insurance-payments for the beneficiaries of those killed in the terrorist attack within 48 hours of receipt of the casualty report from the Defense Department and the claim from the beneficiary. VA also offers the designated policy beneficiary free, personalized and objective financial planning services through nationally renowned commercial insurance and financial services.
Burial and Headstones
The servicemembers who died -- as well as civilians who were honorably discharge veterans killed in the attacks - all are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery or, if the family wishes to arrange burial in a private cemetery, VA will provide a headstone or marker. Because deaths while on duty are considered service connected, VA will pay up to $1,500 toward private burial expenses in those cases. If the decedent will be buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased to the cemetery may be reimbursed. Certain burial benefits would also extend to those retired from the reserves or National Guard.
VA's Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program generally provides up to 45 months-of education benefits to the surviving spouse or child aged 18 to 26 where a servicemembers died in the line of duty. In addition, professional, educational and vocational counseling will be provided to these beneficiaries without charge.
Widows and widowers of military members who died in the terrorist attacks may be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan from a private lender. The loan may be used to purchase, construct or improve a home, to refinance an existing mortgage or for certain other purposes.
Attack On America In Pictures
1. Smoke and flames rose the Pentagon just before 10 a.m., Sept. 2001 after a hijacked commercial airliner crashed into the side of the building. The pentagon attack followed an attack on the twin towers of the New York World Trade Center in what is being called the worst terrorist attack in history.
2. Part of the building collapsed while firefighters continued to battle flames and look for survivors.
3. A rescue helicopter used Washington Blvd. outside the Pentagon to evacuate injured personnel after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
4. Medical personnel load wounded into an ambulance at the first medical triage area set up outside the pentagon.
5. Lt. Col. Douglas Thomas (front left), the executive officer and Assistant for Army Reserve Logistics, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, helps transport an injured Pentagon employee. Thomson is a member of the Active Guard and Reserve.
6. Col. Gerard McEnerney (right) escorts Lt. Gen. Thomas Plewes (left), Chief, Army Reserve and Brig. Gen. Richard Cold (middle), Commander, 77th Regional Support command, through "Ground Zero" in lower Manhattan, N.Y.
7. The Honorable Anibal Acevedo-vila (right), Member of Congress representing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Brig. Gen. Collis Phillips (center), Commander, 65th Regional Support Command, and Ms. Eneidy Coreano, Administrative Assistant for the Congressman, receive a briefing at the site of the Pentagon attack.
8. Medical personnel and volunteers work the triage area.
9. A worker at the crash site takes a break as he waits his tune to help recovery efforts at the Pentagon.
10. At night, the portion of the Pentagon that was hit by a hijacked airplane on Sept. 11 is lit up by artificial light as round-the-clock recovery efforts continued.
11. Family members of victims who were killed in Pentagon during the attack Comfort each other while looking at the building. Victims' families were allowed to visit the Pentagon Sept. 15 and look upon the area where they lost their relatives.
12. A makeshift memorial outside the damaged building.
COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Army Reserve
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group