The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people. Tens of thousands more continue to become ill and many have died from exposure to the toxic dust and debris that were present at the terrorist attack sites including Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. In order to help this growing population of 9/11 survivors, congress passed the Zadroga Act in 2010 and reenacted the act again in 2015 which provides medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and monetary compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
According to a lohud.com article, deaths from 9/11-related illnesses and cancer will soon outnumber the death toll from September 11, 2001. “We’re nervous,” said Dr. Michael Crane, Medical Director of the WTCHP Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai. Cancers that develop from environmental exposures can take a long time, even decades to show up. "We believe that is what’s happening now," Crane said. (1)
Initially the VCF compensated 9/11 heroic first responders who worked on rescue and recovery. The program later was expanded to include residents, workers, students and visitors who developed illnesses from time spent in the Exposure Zone of Ground Zero in the weeks and months following September 11, 2001. The 9/11 VCF has a current deadline of December 18, 2020. Due to the incredible number of claims, over 48,000 according to the vcf.gov site, the 9/11 VCF is experiencing a funding shortage. With the growing number of victims with 9/11 related illnesses learning about and filing for claims, the VCF has announced cuts for pending and future claims.
But 9/11 survivors and family members should not give up applying for claims they are entitled to through the VCF. September 11th health advocates and legislators are fighting on their behalf. Jon Stewart along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Gardner (R-CO ) and Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) have introduced bills that would restore the recently reduced funding and push to make the VCF permanent. Last month bipartisan bills, H. R. 1327 & S.546 - “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act”, were introduced in both the House and the Senate.
Legislators, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, will not stop their fight for those who so willingly risked it all for the safety and security of the rest of us. She is quoted in an article from The National Herald (2)
FEMA photo by Dana Trytten
(1) Rockland/Westchester Journal New, “Deaths from 9/11 diseases will soon outnumber those lost on that fateful day” by Nancy Cutler, Sept. 10, 2018
(2) The National Herald, “Bipartisan Legislation Unveiled for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act Authorization” By TNH Staff, February 26, 2019