Wednesday, June 11, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) - America's war on terrorism - with its billion-dollar budgets and new agencies - is not doing enough to prepare Americans for the psychological effects of terror, former first lady Rosalynn Carter and other leaders said Thursday.
Carter, an advocate for mental health programs, backed a bill that would focus money and expertise on minimizing trauma caused by terror. She was joined by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and Tom Kean, chairman of the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
``We have to recognize that a major part of preparing for a terrorist attack is psychological support,'' said Carter. ``Mental health needs to be a part of all emergency planning.''
The bill would require that 1 percent of the funding states receive for bioterrorism be used to train officials and first responders to help people deal with the fears triggered by attacks. The bill, which Kennedy introduced Thursday, would also create a task force within the Department of Health and Human Services.
He and Carter noted that Americans were reassured by a calm Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks. But later, Kennedy said, citizens emptied store shelves of duct tape and plastic sheeting because federal officials issued poorly conceived recommendations for biological attacks.
``When you have a homeland security director make an announcement without appreciating the impact, it is counterproductive,'' said Kennedy. ``Terrorism preparedness means making sure that we can have vigilance without paralysis.''
Kean, who is the former governor of New Jersey, said in a statement that he has heard many stories of Americans emotionally devastated by the terrorist attacks.
``To help Americans cope with the psychological distress of terrorism and to help fortify them against the corrosive impact of fear are compelling national goals,'' he said.
(PROFILE (COUNTRY:United States; ISOCOUNTRY3:USA; UNTOP:021; APGROUP:NorthAmerica;) )
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