Just two days before the 12th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 24 days before the Oct. 3 deadline for most 9/11 first responders, recovery workers, and survivors to register for economic compensation through the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (Zadroga Act), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Congressman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), VCF Special Master Sheila Birnbaum, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, union leaders, and 9/11 first responders and survivors joined together to draw attention to the important registration deadline -- which applies to most injured 9/11 first responders and survivors.
"As we near the 12th Anniversary of 9/11 we face the double task of offering the thanks of a grateful nation and exemplifying that gratitude by making sure that 9/11 first responders and survivors know that they may only have until Oct. 3 -- 24 days -- to register for compensation through the Victim Compensation Fund. I would urge anyone who was injured or made ill by the toxins released that day to take the time to find out about the VCF and if they should register for it by the Oct. 3 deadline. Please do not delay," said Congresswoman Maloney.
"As we approach the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, I urge all survivors and responders who may be eligible for the VCF to register by the October 3rd deadline, so that they may get the compensation they deserve," said Congressman Nadler. "We can never forget those who we lost on 9/11 and we can never stop fighting for those who became ill or continue to suffer since those first fateful days."
"Outreach events such as these have been very successful. In early July the VCF had over 20,000 registrations submitted, but as a result of the amount of outreach that has been done we now have over 27,000 registrations submitted. As the October 3 deadline approaches, we encourage all those who are sick or injured as a result of the 9/11 events to register and seek compensation for their injuries with the VCF," said Sheila Birnbaum, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Special Master.
The financial compensation available through the VCF applies to injured and ill 9/11 first-responders and survivors. Those sites include not only the World Trade Center, but the Pentagon and the Shankesville crash sites, as well.
Those who believe they are eligible for compensation can register by visiting the VCF's website at www.vcf.gov.
The VCF website has a significant amount of information regarding eligibility and the registration process, but injured and ill 9/11 first responders and survivors should be aware of several facts:
Most must register by the Oct. 3 deadline, or they will not be able to file a claim.
You MUST register with the VCF -- even if you are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program and are receiving its health benefits.
This is the second press conference that Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Nadler, along with many of today's attendees, have staged since late June. Since then, VCF enrollees have increased from 17,800 in early July, to over 23,000, according to the VCF.
Those who attended today's press conference, and many others, echoed Congresswoman Maloney in urging injured, and ill 9/11 first responders and survivors to register before the Oct. 3 deadline:
"With October rapidly approaching, I want to make sure that all who are eligible for the Victims Compensation Fund apply. Those that sacrificed and lost so much on 9/11 should make sure to take advantage of the aid that they fought so hard to get - they deserve every penny of it, and more," said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (NY).
"Our 9/11 heroes, survivors, and my colleagues fought hard to ensure that Congress fulfilled its undeniable moral obligation by providing long-overdue health care and compensation for 9/11 responders and community survivors," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). "As the deadline for applying to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund nears its final days, we urge our first responders and community survivors exposed to toxins at Ground Zero to take this opportunity and apply before this window closes. This program provides critically needed financial assistance so it is my hope that every eligible responder and survivor participates."
"When the World Trade Center was hit, and America was attacked on 9/11, first responders and volunteers did not ask if they would become sick and prematurely die as a result of their bravery. They rushed to rescue their fellow man, and they did their duty. They stood as heroes and patriots to us but to them they were only doing what they knew was right, what they believed was expected of them. I do not want to see any of these heroes miss the chance to take part in this program. It took Washington 10 years to pass the Zadroga Act, which to me was unacceptable. That delay was completely unnecessary, but a delay in signing up for the fund could be even worse. The United States government has provided for our 9-11 heroes, and I don't want to see any of them left behind," said Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, New York's first responders boldly served their neighbors, their City, and their country. The Congress, with bipartisan leadership from the New York Congressional delegation, passed this law to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks. I urge all who assisted in the aftermath of September 11 to seek the available compensation they so justly deserve through this law," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8).
"With the ongoing health problems of the heroic first responders and survivors of 9/11, it's vital that they sign up for economic compensation," said Rep. José E. Serrano (NY-15). "We cannot let these funds, which are designated specifically for them, go unclaimed. I urge all those potentially eligible to check in with the VCF and ensure they get the benefits they deserve."
"Our brave men and women who risked their lives in the aftermath of September 11th deserve the benefits they are owed. With the deadline to apply for these benefits quickly approaching, I want to remind them and their families to get their applications in and reach out to my office if there are any questions," said Rep. Steve Israel (NY-3).
"As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, we are reminded of the strength of our first responders and the resilience of our great city; yet we are also faced with the reality of the illnesses that developed in many exposed to the toxins in the dust cloud," said Rep. Michael Grimm (NY-11). "Survivor benefits remain available in the VCF, but only for those who register before next month's deadline. I join my colleagues in the New York delegation in encouraging all who are eligible to take advantage of the health services and compensation provided, and to register without delay."
"The heroes of 9/11 and their loved ones deserve our unwavering support, and I urge any of the brave first responders at Ground Zero and their families to sign up for the economic lifeline you have earned," said Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-1). "All New Yorkers appreciate the dedicated efforts of Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Nadler to stand up for those who stood up for us on September 11."
"As we approach the 12th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we are all reminded of the great sacrifices our first responders made in service to our nation," said Rep. Joe Crowley (NY- 14). "Now, we must continue to be vigilant in ensuring these responders continue to receive the care and support they need. I encourage all survivors to register with the Victim Compensation Fund before the October 3rd deadline in order to access the health benefits and financial compensation available to them through the program."
"Passing the Zadroga Act after a decade-long fight was a monumental victory for labor, community organizations, elected officials and advocates, but it was only the first step in assisting those whose lives were forever changed by 9/11," said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. "The next and just as critical part is ensuring that first responders, workers, volunteers and residents are aware of their rights under the law, and to urge them to register for the Victims Compensation Fund before it's too late."
"The Uniformed Fire Officers Association, representing over 7000 active and retired members, the leaders of the Bravest, strongly urge our colleagues in the 9/11 community to register for the VCF. Our first responders are at all times quick to deploy to calls for help, but struggle with the concept of asking for help for themselves," said Richard Alles, Deputy Chief, Uniformed Fire Officers Association L-854, IAFF, AFL-CIO.
"We are very concerned that many people who are eligible for compensation may not be aware of this deadline. They may not have heard about the deadline or believe that their participation in some other WTC program will take care of VCF registration. We need to get the word out to these people before it is too late," said Jim Melius, Administrator of New York State Health Laborers Health and Safety Trust.
"We worked very hard to get both care and compensation for everyone whose health was harmed by the WTC disaster. Now it is your turn. If you are sick due to 9/11, it's time for you to register for the Victims Compensation Fund. Be a good friend and help a friend make the call," said Catherine McVay Hughes, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1.
"We all know the catch phrase 'if you see something, say something, but in our case, 'if you know someone, say something.' We have come too far to leave anyone behind," said John Feal, 9/11 First Responder.