Letter from Survivor’s Impassioned Wife

My husband, Michael Winter, was the Operations Manager fully responsible for the United Airlines Flight Dispatch Operations Control Center on September 11, 2001; His employees had legal responsibility for the flying and safety of the entire United Airlines fleet on September 11th. My husband, unable to fall apart with so many operations people counting on him, during the actual events, and in the wake of the disasters, dedicated himself to get things restored as soon as possible, as planes needed to fly and safety needed it’s same level of, and more, attention. Then there was the emotional aftermath of the employees and families. In getting help for others who suffered physical and mental anguish, Michael failed to recognize the need for he, himself, to get help. That is why I am writing to you:

After 9 plus years of steady downward spiral of our lives, which started on that day, my husband has been medically diagnosed with PTSD related to 9/11.

After contacting United Airlines benefits center, numerous agencies, non-profit organizations and support groups, there appears to be no assistance for him. The WTC National Health Plan and Compensation Fund are our only hope of financial assistance for medical and living expenses and we have recently been turned down.

As the hi-jackings were taking place Michael stood by his employees as they communicated with their pilots and flight attendants of flight 93 which eventually crashed in Pennsylvania. Imagine the flight attendants calling into employees, helpless and at their mercy, from the back of the plane. In addition to the flights that were hijacked, there were hundreds of flights that were about to take off and needed to be stopped, not to mention the hundreds of aircraft that were already flying and needed a place to safely land.

Michael worked day and night for the next four days ensuring his employees received appropriate care, and the airline restored its operation back to normal. The intelligent, hard working and loving man never thought once to seek counseling for himself. He strived to perform his duties as the Operations manager however, eventually stress and anxiety overcame him and he was no longer mentally able to remain in the position.

Upon the diagnosis of PTSD Michael began counseling. Only one month into therapy my insurance policy dropped Behavioral Health coverage for my family. At the present time Michael’s therapy has been limited to two sessions a month until we acquire financial assistance for his treatment. In May of 2010 Michael was released from his most recent (non-United) aviation job, as a flight dispatcher, when he identified his medical diagnosis and conditions. Without interventional help, he is neither able to work due to his condition, nor can he return to work until he is released from his doctor.

We have contacted the Director of United Airlines employee benefits center, Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida worker’s compensation departments and numerous 9/11 non-profit and support organizations. All have stated the Statute of limitations has past or there are no benefits available.

I am reaching out to you to please include Michael in the WTC National Health Plan and Compensation Fund. In addition, I would appreciate knowing of any other source or remedy of which you may be aware to help Michael back from this terrible tragedy. Surely such a person should not be allowed to fall through the cracks of a safety net purposely created for him and people like him.

Michael still has a lot to contribute to this world. We need the employee, son, father, and husband back that Michael we know is still inside


Denise R. Winter

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