On September 11, 2001, New York, Washington and the entire country came under terrorist attack. On that day and in the days, weeks and months that followed, members of the FDNY went to work to recover the remains of the 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, 2 paramedics and 2,026 civilians who perished when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
They were joined by fire service personnel from across New York State and the nation, as well as brothers and sisters in the NYPD, PAPD and EMS services. Firefighters showed up to work on the pile without even being asked.
The events of 9/11 exemplified the brother- and sisterhood of the fire service in the truest sense of the word. Chiefs, company officers and firefighters literally stood shoulder to shoulder to ensure that everything that could be done for rescue and recovery was tried.
The members of the New York fire service and firefighters from across the United States are now asking for your help.
In 2010, after much debate and compromise, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This action was intended to ensure that those who responded to that devastating scene at the World Trade Center have the healthcare and benefits they deserve. Due to opposition by some members of Congress, these essential programs were only funded for five years.
Now, the legislation’s two central programs are about to expire. To ensure these programs continue, New York Senators Kirstin Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and 45 other senators; New York Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Peter King and the entire New York delegation; and a total of 173 representatives have introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (S. 928/H.R. 1786).
While emergency-service personnel from New York and New Jersey are those primarily affected by the devastating health effects of the aftermath of 9/11, the impact is truly nationwide, as victims live in 429 of 435 congressional districts. The program has created a specialized network of health experts who specifically treat the cancers tied to Ground Zero:
- More than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors have at least one injury or illness caused by the attacks or their aftermath. Two-thirds of these individuals have more than one illness.
- More than 4,166 individuals have been diagnosed with at least one 9/11-certified cancer, and 4,900 cancers have been found among 9/11 responders and survivors.
The funding for this program is set to expire on September 30, 2015. Firefighters from across the nation responded on 9/11, many without being asked to assist. To help them, the New York Association of Fire Chiefs is now asking for your help.
Congress has not reauthorized this legislation, but we don’t think that the nation can afford to allow it to expire. The impact of many forms of cancer and lung disease and many other illnesses has yet to be fully felt. The reauthorization of this funding must be an issue of concern to the entire fire service, not just to those in the New York metropolitan area.
It is just as important that you respond to the call for assistance today as those emergency responders did 14 years ago. Contact your senator and representative in Washington and urge them to join us in this effort. Ask them to become a sponsor and to support the passage of this important legislation.