-- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) today announced their support for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (S. 928/H.R.1786), which would fully extend the World Trade Center Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund. Other veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and The United States Army Warrant Officers Association (USAWOA) stood with IAVA in support for the measure during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol.
The bipartisan legislation to continue providing care and compensation to thousands of survivors and first responders who helped the nation recover in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks has 65 Senate cosponsors and 248 House cosponsors. It was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer and Mark Kirk in the Senate, and Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King in the House.
Several Members of Congress who are military veterans, including Senator Mark Kirk, and Reps. Chris Gibson, Tulsi Gabbard, Lee Zeldin, Ted Lieu, and Ruben Gallego joined IAVA and other veteran groups for the announcement, echoing the call for the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act.
“We must ensure that no one who risked everything on September 11, 2001, and emerged with devastating and life-threatening illnesses, nor the family members who depend on them, is left behind or forgotten,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “That is the spirit that guides the incredible men and women of the IAVA in their efforts to provide support, comfort, and care for our veterans. These health and compensation programs are not about government spending or dollars and cents; they are not about sunsets or deadlines. These programs are about doing the right thing. I am proud to stand with the IAVA today and welcome their support for the heroes of 9/11 and the vital programs that should be fully funded and in place for as long as these brave men and women who risked everything need.”
“September 11th defined a lasting call to service for many Americans. However, for both the post-9/11 generation of veterans and the 9/11 first responders, the consequences of their service extended far beyond that terrible day,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “As a Ground Zero first responder myself, I will devote the full resources of our organization to ensure our heroes are not neglected. Our country can’t afford to turn our backs on the 9/11 families, first-responders and veterans who have answered the call of service. Since that day, over 2.8 million veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their service continues today both at home and abroad. We urge every lawmaker on the Hill to support the continuation of the Zadroga Act.”
“After last week’s horrific attacks in Paris we are reminded once again how important it is to support our first responders, who save lives and run towards danger when it matters the most,” Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). The volunteers from states like Illinois who went to the sites after 9/11 are the best of the best – it’s time to step up and support these brave heroes."
“The thousands of 9/11 first responders were first on the front lines, risking their lives to save others,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “We owe these heroes the care and support that has been promised to them and their families. With a majority in both chambers of Congress in strong support of this bill, it is time we take necessary and overdue action to reauthorize this important legislation.”
“As a New Yorker and a veteran, I am especially proud to be an original co-sponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act,” said Congressman Chris Gibson. “We have a moral obligation to care for the brave men and women who sacrificed their health and well-being in the search for victims of the 9/11 attacks. We thank them for their service—we keep them in our prayers—but we must also take action in this Congress to see that they are never left wanting for the support and relief they deserve. We must reauthorize the Zadroga Act immediately.”
Congressman Ted Lieu said: “You can’t say you’ll never forget the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and not support the James Zadroga Act. That’s the bottom line. Congress must pass this bill to provide medical monitoring, care and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors in all 50 states. A short term fix is simply not good enough – a permanent extension of these benefits is what’s right. Congress must take care of those who answered to the call to serve during our darkest hours.”
Congressman Lee Zeldin said: “I strongly support The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which has overwhelming, bipartisan support in Congress. While this initiative may be funded through the middle of 2016, it is essential that the Zadroga Act is permanently extended immediately to ensure the necessary assistance is provided to our 9/11 first responders; and to provide peace of mind to our 9/11 first responders and their families. The Zadroga Act must be brought to the House floor immediately and I will fight in Congress until it is done.”
Congressman Ruben Gallego said: “We owe it to the first responders and the survivors of the 9/11 attacks to make sure they are receiving the promised care and compensation for the injuries they suffered. This is a no-brainer, and shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We find money all the time to fund bills. Congress must act now to fund the Zadroga Act.”
“We are grateful to IAVA for supporting our bill to permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Health and Compensation Programs,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Along with our veterans, our first responders are heroes who risked their lives for their country in the aftermath of 9/11. They should not have to spend their time and resources walking the halls of Congress, lobbying for the care they so bravely earned and now desperately need. Their 9/11-related cancers and other diseases do not expire, so neither should their healthcare. Congress must pass this bill.”
“Those who have worn the uniform, as first responders and serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan are standing in solidarity to pass a permanent Zadroga Act,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “There is a strong bipartisan majority ready to send this bill to the President’s desk, but so far we’ve seen no action. How can a bill that is backed by 248 Members of the House and 65 United States Senators not get a vote? How can we deny the heroes and heroines of the worst terrorist attack in our history the health care they need, and compensation they were promised? This Congress’s failure to act is a dereliction of our duty. No longer can we turn our backs. It’s time for the leaders of the House and Senate to let us vote.”
Congressman Peter King said: “We have an absolute moral obligation to extend the 9/11 health and compensation for the brave police officers, firefighters, and construction workers who are suffering serious illnesses. On 9/11 and the months that followed, first responders worked tirelessly and selflessly at Ground Zero and displayed valor much like that of our nation’s selfless veterans. ”
“9/11 first responders were on the front lines defending our national security on that September morning,” said Congressman Frank Pallone. “Fourteen years after they answered the call of duty when we needed them most, many are still forced to deal with the enduring after-effects of their service at Ground Zero. A permanent reauthorization of the Zadroga Act is the least we can do to uphold our responsibility and commitment to our 9/11 first responders. I am glad we were able to secure a hearing in my Committee, which was a critical first step toward passage. But now, Congress must redouble its efforts and renew its commitment to our 9/11 heroes.”
Congressman Dan Donovan said, “After the attacks against America on September 11, 2001, selfless heroes rushed toward the death and destruction. Many will pay for their heroism for the rest of their lives; many have already paid with their lives. Time doesn’t erase our moral imperative to permanently cover their medical expenses – it’s an extension of the costs of this horrific attack.”
The announcement adds to the growing, widespread support the legislation has gained in both chambers to reauthorize and make permanent the health program, which has already expired, and fully fund the Compensation program.
"I want to thank the IAVA for joining us in this fight we started over a decade ago,” said John Feal of the Feal Good Foundation. “I was never a firefighter or a police officer, but I know what it is to wear the uniform for our Nation, and in the Army and now in the 9/11 community. We never leave any man or woman behind. Some members of Congress may have left these ailing Heroes behind, but all those here today have not! This fight is welcomed by all those who continue to pursue justice for those affected by that dark Tuesday morning"
Richard Alles, Deputy Chief FDNY, Board Member Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act said, “Thank you Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America for coming out in support of injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors. Like the true heroes that you are, you have not forgotten 9/11, unlike it seems the U.S. Congress, which seems to want to forget those injured in 9/11 and will not take up legislation even when it has 65 Senate and 244 House sponsors. This Congress seems to have no trouble finding a new low.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler calls for the renewal of the 9/11 James Zadroga Act
The legislation would permanently extend the World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The programs were created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in December 2010, and was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011.
The World Trade Center Health Program authorization expired at the end of September, and funding will run out by September 30, 2016. In the meantime, the program is in the process of shutting down, creating anxiety for those in treatment, and problems for program administration, medical staff retention and continuity of care.
· There are 72,297 Responders and Survivors who are living in every State and from 433 of 435 Congressional Districts.
· There are over 33,000 Responders and Survivors have at least one 9/11 condition and over two thirds have more than one condition and a large number of those suffer from multiple injuries and illnesses.
· More than 4,166 Responders and Survivors have been certified to have a 9/11 related cancer, of which over 1,100 are New York City Fire Fighters and EMS personnel.
· Over 94 New York Police Department officers and over 110 Firefighters have reportedly died of their 9/11 injuries and illnesses, with more are expected in the coming years.
The Victim Compensation Fund, also authorized for five years by the 2010 Zadroga Act, will shut down by October 3, 2016 and will not be able to fully compensate 9/11 responders and survivors unless Congress extends the program and fully funds it.
· To date, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund has received 20,622 eligibility claims. Of those claims submitted it has found 12,150 eligible, has denied eligibility on 1,668 claims
· The VCF has made 6,285 compensation determinations for injured and ill responders and survivors or their families totaling over $1.44 Billion.