The following are just a few of the thousands of phone calls received by Western Territory volunteers at the 1-800-SAL-ARMY emergency assistance line a few days after the attack.
A young girl called, scared and confused. “Can you explain what’s going on? The kids at school are talking about World War III I don’t understand terrorism or hijackings.” She talked for 15 minutes about her fears. When asked about support at home, she replied that her parents were fighting in the other room; she spotted the toll-free number on TV and retreated into her room to make the call.
–Ohio, age 13
The world was his oyster: A young man, single, living in Manhattan, a stockbroker on Wall Street. He called, overwhelmed by his feelings. “I just want to cry…Should I even try to have fun? Am I going crazy?” He’d been eating, but had no appetite. He shared for 20 minutes, and gave his number so the counselor could check back with him. His counselor connected him with a support group and will also be in touch with him.
–Manhattan, age 33
“I’ve got a semi-truck and a driver; it’s stocked and ready to go. Tell me what to do next.”
“I own an apartment building in Manhattan two apartments are vacant. They are available for any family members of victims needing a place to stay. Help me reach the people who can use my help.”
–New York City
“I’m 88-years-old, hard of hearing, and I can’t see too good– but I want to do something. Let me send you a check.” After 15 minutes of her struggling to write down the donation address–she never could get “Nyack,” the Eastern Territorial Headquarters address–the counselor had an idea, and the next day sent the caller a stamped, addressed envelope, so all she would need to do was slip in her check and mail it.
“My son called me on his cell phone–he was in Tower 1 on an upper floor. It was just after the plane hit. He was having trouble breathing and couldn’t see his way out. He called his brother, too, and shortly after he disconnected with him, the tower collapsed.”
The caller had suffered the loss of another relative in the past year, and found her faith challenged. Hoping for emotional support and prayer, she called the Army help line. She was distraught, and had called other agencies–none had answers for her. She found this call different; the counselor took the time to talk to her, to calm her, to care. Now this mother is looking for her son, hoping for some word of him, hoping for a miracle.
— A mother