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A Heart-Warming 9/11 Story

December 7, 2021 | Michael Barasch

Phil Angello needed help with his paperwork.

A union plumber and military veteran, Angello responded to Ground Zero soon after 9/11 to join a search, rescue, and recovery team.

While there, Angello located victims, removed debris, and transported critical supplies.

Tragically, he was also exposed to the toxic Ground Zero air, which included pulverized glass and concrete, asbestos, chromium, benzene, and many other known carcinogens. 

These toxins dramatically increase the risk of developing 68 different types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses. Those who have developed any 9/11-related illness are entitled to free health care and compensation.

Years later, in 2018, Angello was diagnosed with bladder cancer and prostate cancer, both as a result of his exposure at Ground Zero.

He enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, allowing him to access free, comprehensive medical care. 

But he delayed registering with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, concerned that his poor vision and hazy memory would prevent him from completing the many required forms.

Enter Valerie Velazquez, a retired Jersey City police officer and now liaison to first responders at Barasch & McGarry.

As soon as she heard his story, she knew she had a mission to accomplish. Velazquez recently visited Angello at his home in Passaic County, New Jersey, to help him complete the Victim Compensation Fund documents.

Drawing on her experience as an investigator, Velazquez spoke with Angello at length, allowing him to recall his experiences at the World Trade Center site and prepare a detailed claim.

Thanks to Velazquez and the team at Barasch & McGarry, Angello will most likely receive a substantial award from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, providing financial security for the rest of his life. We thank Velazquez for her incredible dedication to help those in need, particularly in the 9/11 community.

If you were there in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11, we urge you to register with the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund – even if you are currently healthy. 

By registering, you protect your right to access free health care and register a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund in the future.

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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