Senators Kirk, Gillibrand, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America lead Veterans’ Organizations in support of Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Extension

WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–November 17, 2015.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to show 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 members of Congress and 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 Mark Kirk, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer in the Senate, and Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King in the House.

“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 Kirk said. “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.”

“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.”

“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.”

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would:

  • Continue the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program would continue medical monitoring for 9/11-related illnesses for over 63,000 9/11 first responders and treatment for over 7,800 injured 9/11 survivors. Over 33,000 of these responders and survivors have at least one or more medical conditions as a result of their 9/11 exposure.
  • Continue Monitoring and Treatment for Communities Throughout the Nation. The program would continue to provide medical monitoring and treatment for responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site who live outside the New York metropolitan area. Treatment is included for the over 7,900 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors including responders who came to New York to provide assistance after 9/11 and those from New York who have moved out of the New York Metropolitan area.
  • Continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The fund, which is scheduled to close on October 3rd 2016, would remain open and fully funded to provide compensation for economic damages and loss for responders and survivors who were injured by exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. To date, the VCF has determined 10,549 claimants eligible and has made compensation decisions for 4,415 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors for over a billion dollars in compensation. More are expected in the coming years due to the delayed onset of cancer from 9/11 exposure.
  • Continue to Research New Conditions. The legislation would continue research in diagnosing and treating WTC-related illnesses.