Instead of going to the UFA convention this week I am going back down to Washington D.C. to lobby for the extension and full funding of the VCF. I will go back again in a few weeks and then again in June when Jon Stewart testifies at the Judiciary Committee. I assure you that we will not stop until Congress does the right thing!
A few weeks ago I was in D.C. with 22 former first responders, including the children of two FDNY firefighters who passed away due to their 9/11-related cancers, and several sick downtown residents. We met with the staff of 32 Republican Representatives in the House. For the most part, almost all of our meetings were positive. We didn’t hear anyone say “we won’t support the extension.” At last count, 247 Representatives and 36 Senators have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation to fully fund and extend the VCF. We are making progress. But our work is far from done. We will update you when we return from our next trip.
Remember to call your friends and families in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina to ask them to call their Senators and demand that they support the pending bill known as S-546.
One of the guys with me in D.C. was a firefighter who was found disabled due to his severe pulmonary illnesses. He recently received his VCF economic loss award and It was most definitely impacted by their new policy. His economic loss award was reduced 96.8%! He received just $14,038 of his $440,000 award because the VCF first reduced his economic loss by 50% and then subtracted 100% of his disability pension as an offset. This new method of calculation is devastating to all responders who are claiming economic loss.
Remember when the Gov’t assured us all that “the air (was) safe?” When the scientific data proved the link between the deadly toxins and dozens of cancers, Congress passed the Zadroga Act which created the VCF. The law assured responders that “we will take care of you.” It would be a breach of that promise and a moral injustice if the Gov’t failed to pay all victims 100% of their loss, as promised. It would be a warning to future responders that they can’t count on the Gov’t to take care of them, God forbid they are injured in a future disaster.
We hope that publicizing this responder’s treatment by the VCF will provoke outrage and help convince all law makers to support the full funding and extension of the VCF.
Retired FDNY Deputy Chief Rich Alles and I were interviewed on Q104.3 by Shelli Sonstein on Sunday. We discussed our efforts and strategy to extend the VCF. We are going back down to D.C. at the end of the month, and then again in June. We will continue these trips until Congress does the right thing. Listen to our interview HERE.
With deepest respect,