State receives $2.3 million for counseling

The Associated Press
Thursday October 17, 2002

SACRAMENTO — California is getting a $2.3 million federal grant to expand benefits and continue group crisis counseling for family members and survivors of last year’s terrorist attacks, officials said Wednesday. 

So far, the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board has received 490 Sept. 11-related claims and paid $1.6 million in medical bills, mental health counseling expenses, funeral and burial costs, and lost income compensation. The board also received 127 claims from members of the search-and-rescue teams sent to the attack sites. 

The board is allowing claims until the end of next year, extending the usual one-year deadline because of the nature of the attacks and because many potential claimants don’t know they are eligible. 

The new federal Anti-terrorism and Emergency Assistance Program money will let the board continue monthly regional support group meetings conducted by psychologists from the University of San Francisco Trauma Recovery Program. 

An initial federal grant that had been supporting the counseling will run out in December. 

“Each of the family members and survivors expressed how beneficial the counseling has been,” Gov. Gray Davis said in announcing the grant. “They have formed new, common bonds with each other, giving them strength.” 

Davis met with the families and survivors after the Sept. 11 anniversary ceremony in Sacramento last month. 

Legislation signed immediately after the attacks provides up to $10,000 in mental health treatment for search and rescue workers; adds grandparents, grandchildren, mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law to the list of family members eligible for assistance; lets relatives seek help even if the victim isn’t a California resident; and gave counties $2.575 million for trauma and tolerance counseling after the attacks. 

The board and the California State Bar Association also offered victims free legal assistance, and the board created a group Web site and newsletter for the families and survivors to share their experiences and get benefits updates. 

The board also appointed five “case managers” to coordinate benefits and services for families and survivors, search and rescue workers, and hate crime victims.