The grant program will provide mental health services to firefighters, search and rescue personnel, emergency medical personnel, law enforcement personnel, emergency services personnel, public health workers, construction workers and transportation workers who were directly involved in recovery work and the search for remains of victims following the September 11 attacks.
"These heroes deserve as much help as they need to go on with their lives following the devastation they witnessed," Thompson said.
Grantees will provide community-based mental health services that promote healthy coping behaviors in response to traumatic exposure and grief. HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will administer the grants.
"Trained to cope with fear and stress and to act effectively in emergencies, rescue workers are more familiar with danger and loss of life than many," said
Charles G. Curie, SAMHSA administrator. "Our experience with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing warns they are also among the most vulnerable to long-term emotional and substance abuse problems. These grants will sustain our initial efforts to support the front line at home."
SAMHSA is planning to award an additional $4 million for 40 grants intended to promote readiness and enhance state-level capacity for a coordinated response to mental health and substance abuse service needs in the aftermath of large-scale emergencies, both natural and manmade.