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Steve Buscemi opens up about PTSD after volunteering on 9/11: ‘There are times when I’m right back there’

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Steve Buscemi has opened up about experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after volunteering as a firefighter on 9/11.

The Fargo star had worked as a firefighter in the Eighties, and arrived at the scene of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks in 2001, helping aid in recovery and rescue efforts for five days.

Speaking on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Buscemi recalled his experiences at the scene.

“I just didn’t have any information,” he said. “I kept calling the fire house the day before and of course there was no answer. Because I knew that they would be there. And then I eventually learned that five of them were missing. One of them was a good friend of mine I used to work with.

“I was driven to the site that day, walked around for hours and then found my company, found Engine 55 working there. I asked if I could join them. I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, but I worked with them that day.”

Buscemi then continued to volunteer for several more days. The actor told Maron that he was “grateful” to be able to help, adding: “I was privileged enough to have access to the site and be in the thick of it, and just experience the humanity of what was going on there.”

When the podcast host asked if Buscemi had experienced any long-term health issues or PTSD, Buscemi replied: “I haven’t experienced any health issues, and I get myself checked out, but definitely…. Post traumatic stress? Absolutely.

“I was only there for like five days, but when I stopped going and tried to just live my life again, it was really, really hard. I was depressed, I was anxious, I couldn’t make a simple decision. All those things. It’s still with me. There are times when I talk about 9/11 and I’m right back there. I start to get choked up and I realise, ah, this is still a big part of me.”

Steve Buscemi pictured in June 2021 (Getty Images for Tribeca Festiva)
Steve Buscemi pictured in June 2021 (Getty Images for Tribeca Festiva)

Buscemi said that the anniversary of the attacks could serve as a “trigger” for a lot of people who survived 9/11, and mentioned that he’s been working for around a decade with Friends of Firefighters, an organisation providing free mental health services and counselling to those in the industry.

In the interview, Buscemi also discussed the new documentary Dust: The Lingering Legacy of 9/11, which aims to bring attention to the continuing health needs of firefighters present at Ground Zero.

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