Viral Change.org petition starter John Feal joined 9/11 first responders, survivors, and their families, comedian Jon Stewart, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) on Monday, February 25, at 3pm in SVC-208to introduce the bipartisan Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act and call for Congress to take quick action to pass the bill.
The bipartisan legislation would ensure that all 9/11 first responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero and have certified 9/11 illnesses would receive their full compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) now and into the future as more become ill with 9/11 cancers.
In 2015, 9/11 volunteer first responder John Feal started a viral petition on Change.org (change.org/neverforget) to address what he saw as an ongoing problem: first responders were dying of illnesses from their heroic work at Ground Zero, and their families were struggling to pay for their health expenses. Feal called for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga Act) to be permanently extended and assure that health care for 9/11 heroes would be fully funded. That petition was victorious, garnering over 180,000 signatures, and led to massive media attention, additional funding for Zadroga Act, and the reactivation of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“John’s petition here on Change.org proves that the voices of everyday Americans can make an impact in this country,” said Michael Jones, Managing Director of Campaigns at Change.org. “Like John, we believe that 9/11 heroes should never be forgotten, which is why we are supporting his fight for first responders and their families to get the health care they deserve.”
On February 15, 2019, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund announced that due to a funding shortfall, injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors will receive cuts to the awards that they were expecting of 50% for pending claims and 70% for future claims.
In the years since 9/11/2001, thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors have become ill and many have lost their lives from exposure to a toxic cocktail of burning chemicals, pulverized drywall and powdered cement that was present at Ground Zero. After years of urging Congress to act, in 2010 and again in 2015, legislation was passed to provide medical monitoring and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program and compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for thousands made sick by the toxins at Ground Zero as well as at the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash site. Now, after waiting years for compensation that they need and deserve, thousands are facing dramatically reduced awards and unless Congress acts, the VCF will actually be closing next year just as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11 cancers.
This legislation is designed to ensure that the VCF is fully funded and will remain open for those that will become ill in the future.