Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman checked himself into a hospital for clinical depression, his chief of staff announced Thursday.
Fetterman was evaluated Wednesday night at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, and his doctor recommended he receive inpatient care.
“While John has experienced depression on and off throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” Adam Jentleson said in a statement. “The doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”
Fetterman’s decision to receive inpatient therapy is bound to attract some negative opinions. He was constantly questioned about his fitness for office after he had a stroke during the campaign.
But getting treatment, and announcing publicly that he is doing so, is important. Letting depression go untreated can take a serious toll, both physically and mentally. Seeking care in the public eye will help remove some of the stigma around the illness.
It’s incredibly brave of @JohnFetterman to talk about his mental health challenges publicly, especially knowing that people will try to exploit it for political purposes. But his decision to come forward will undoubtedly help encourage others to seek help. https://t.co/d0jGSlPAbk
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 16, 2023 Fetterman was briefly hospitalized last week after experiencing lightheadedness. Doctors said he had not suffered a second stroke.
Fetterman’s wife Gisele praised him for getting treatment. “After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John,” she said on Twitter. “I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs.”
While residents of East Palestine, Ohio are still navigating the chaotic aftermath of their own Norfolk Southern train derailment, another of the company’s trains has derailed outside Detroit, Michigan. At least six cars were rooted off the track Thursday morning.
BREAKING: A train has just derailed outside Detroit. At least six cars came off the track, and one was carrying hazardous materials. pic.twitter.com/twJKHyWOq3
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) February 16, 2023 The incident occurred in Van Buren Township; the community’s public safety Facebook page reported no injuries, and no evidence of exposed hazardous materials. The page reported that one car contained liquid chlorine, but was not among the six uprooted cars.
“One railcar that derailed contained agricultural grain and the remaining cars were empty. No hazardous material release to soil or waterway (located approximately 900ft to the NW),” Incident Management Specialist Travis Boeskool said in a statement on Facebook. “Norfolk Southern has equipment on-site and is removing/uprighting rail cars. They anticipate having the railcars removed and (the) rail open later today.”
The page also noted an immediate response from numerous officials, including Representative Debbie Dingell who activated FEMA and an EPA response team.
“After the recent incident in Ohio, Van Buren is going to know we are safe before we disengage from this event,” the township concluded.
The far-right already seems to be pouncing on the incident as proof of conspiracy amok, particularly after the derailment in East Palestine.
But in reality, from 1990 to 2021, there were at least 54,539 accidents in which a train derailed, according to the Bureau of Transportation. That is an average of 1,704 derailments per year.
So while it may certainly seem as if these crashes are happening at a suspiciously inordinate pace, that feeling actually just comes from an exposure bias from the media finally directing more attention to our poor infrastructure and accompanying regulation.
In the same way every new day seems to hold the possibility for another mass shooting, or another instance of police brutality, so too does it hold the possibility for another failure of our infrastructure. There’s not some new conspiracy—we’ve had a bad record of standards for years. Maybe with all this attention we can actually do something about it.
On Wednesday evening, hundreds of community members piled into the East Palestine High School gymnasium for what was originally slated to be a town hall with representatives from Norfolk Southern, the company whose train upended the Ohio community nearly two weeks ago.
The residents came with questions about the symptoms they’re feeling, whether it’s safe to be in the community, and how they will be supported in the midst of the crisis.
But Norfolk Southern, the primary culprit of the residents’ woes, pulled out of the event last minute. Citing concerns for their employees’ safety, the company said they will “remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents.”
Now, it is not out of the question that employees may have faced credible threats. (Perhaps explicitly outlining some of them may have given more credence to the notion.) Nonetheless, it is understandable that residents may feel betrayed by a company citing safety concerns as they themselves grapple with an array of concerns for their own safety after the company’s disaster.
Norfolk Southern backed out of the East Palestine town hall meeting tonight because officials said they felt it was “unsafe” to attend, the mayor of the town told people. pic.twitter.com/crr2Pbeki4
— Max Filby (@MaxFilby) February 16, 2023 The event on Wednesday instead proceeded, less as a town hall, and more as an open house space for members of the community to directly interface with people including Representative Bill Johnson, Ohio and U.S. EPA representatives, local and county health officials, and state natural resource and agriculture officials.
“I need help,” Mayor Trent Conaway said about being forced into national attention, and whether he has a message for U.S. EPA head Michael Regan who is visiting the town Thursday. “I’m not ready for this. I wasn’t built for this. I always thought of myself as a leader. I will do whatever it takes.”
Conaway’s constituents, however, have found him to be admirable in his commitment to indeed doing “whatever it takes” to support them.
“I’m going to be having a meeting with him soon, he asked me to come and make an appointment and come and sit and talk with him,” said resident Ron Arter, who attended the event Wednesday. “And I think that’s stand-up.” Arter said he did not feel as warmly about Representative Bill Johnson, however. “He didn’t help the situation at all, he kind of frustrated quite a bit of people.”
The community gathering may not have gone completely smoothly—emotions were understandably high-octane, the situation itself is so massively unprecedented for both residents and officials. But it still displayed what a proper society offers: space for the community and government to directly connect and exchange information.
This kind of symbiotic relationship (the people communicating their concerns to inform officials; officials offering their guidance and shaping their action based on community input) is what should be conducted regularly, not just in the aftermath of travesty or injustice. In doing so, disasters like this might even be evaded in the future, and the whims of a corporate entity would seldom be of concern.
In the meantime, residents wonder how companies like Norfolk Southern get away with what they do, like contaminating the soil as they “cleaned up” the derailment site. “The EPA should have shut everything down when they saw it,” said Arter. Despite Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s rejection for further help from the Biden administration, » …