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“It’s still with me”: Steve Buscemi talks about suffering from PTSD from working at Ground Zero

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Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Before he found fame as an actor, Steve Buscemi was a New York City fireman, and after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, he volunteered to help recovery efforts on what first responders called “The Pile,” the ruins of the World Trade Center.

In an emotional conversation on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Buscemi revealed that he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time there. 

Buscemi recalled reuniting with his old Engine 55 crew at the site that became known as Ground Zero.

“I asked if I could join them,” the now-63-year-old actor told Maron. “I could tell they were a little suspicious at first, but I worked with them that day.”

He added, “I was so grateful.”

All told, the eventual Emmy winner worked multiple 12-hour shifts on The Pile, as firemen pulled the bodies of their comrades and other victims from the rubble. 

Working there exposed thousands of first-responders to debris that caused cancer and other ailments. Buscemi revealed, “I haven’t experienced any health issues, and I get myself checked out — but…post-traumatic stress? Absolutely.”

The actor continued, “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.”

Buscemi said the experience is “still with me. There are times when I talk about 9/11 and I’m right back there. I start to get choked up.”

Saturday’s 20th anniversary is “a trigger,” he admitted.

Buscemi recently executive-produced the documentary Dust: The Lingering Legacy of 9/11, about the battle for health coverage for those still suffering and dying from 9/11-related diseases — a fight he’s been involved with for years. 

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