Good friend Michael Barasch and retired DC Rich Alles were on hand to urge members to sign up for the Victims Compensation Fund which ends 12/18/2020. They passed out literature about the VCF and info about all the cancers affecting us now. Mike told the membership to get a full body scan at least once a year for skin cancer.
NOVEMBER 27, 2018 MEETING
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Joe Bryant delivered an invocation. Jim Hayhurst asked for a moment of silence for 3 FDNY members who succumbed to WTC illnesses: Ret FF Daniel Bove, E-251, EMT Joseph Rodriguez and paramedic Martha Stewart. We also remembered three American soldiers who were killed in action in Afghanistan.
Attorney Michael Barasch spoke first. He said that Jimmy Zadroga, the NYPD detective for whom the Zadroga Bill was named, had ground glass, lead, asbestos and benzene in his body, found by autopsy. Mike reminded us that basal cell skin cancer is the most common WTC cancer. Go for an annual skin exam. The VCF makes awards for skin cancer. 68 cancers have been linked to the WTC. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer.
Mike Barasch said that the value of future VCF awards will start to diminish as of 2/1/19, because awards are larger and more numerous than expected. The fund will close on 12/18/20, unless it is extended. A bill to extend the VCF is currently supported by 21 senators and 100 members of congress. He said we need about 10 more Republican senators. Mike suggested that we ask our members who live in the southern parts of the US to lobby their senators.
Regarding sleep apnea, Mike said that if you are in the WTC Medical program, you snore and you have GERD, that they are related. Also, the rate of breast cancer in the US is 1 in 100,000 men. He represents 32 men with breast cancer.
Richie Alles stated that members who retired prior to 9/11/01 but who operated at the WTC rescue and recovery need affidavits from two people attesting that they were there.
Danny Prince said the Fire Family Transport Foundation has sympathy cards that can be used to donate to the FFTF.
WINS anchor and reporter Carol D’Auria spoke about Dynamic Youth Community (DYC), an addiction treatment program based in Brooklyn. The program runs about 3 years. It includes 12-16 months upstate in Fallsburg, followed by an intensive program in Brooklyn. Following that, participants return to school or work and remain with the program part-time. Carol states that the program has been in existence for almost 40 years. She said the program tries to instill discipline and values, and a sense of responsibility. Everyone has a job during treatment, and electronic devices are severely restricted. The last phase of the program helps residents decide on a career. Parents are involved in the program, as addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. The program is state-funded. No one is turned away due to inability to pay.
Jim Hayhurst said that 132 care packages have been shipped to US military personnel this year. In addition, 560 pounds of candy were sent to the troops under “Operation Sweet Tooth,” where people donate Halloween candy for our service members. Way to go!
VCF REAUTHORIZATION UPDATE
by Rich Alles
As a reminder, the current Victim Compensation Fund is scheduled to close on December 18, 2020. Efforts are under way in Washington DC to reauthorize the VCF. Fortunately, the WTC Health Program was made permanent in 2015.
In late February, legislation will be introduced in Congress for a permanent extension of the VCF. NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is leading the battle in the Senate. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Peter King are leading the effort in the House of Representatives.
Both bills have good bipartisan support at this early stage, but there is much work to be done. Congress has seen a huge turnover since 2015 when the VCF was last reauthorized, so newly elected members will need to be educated on the bill’s necessity.
All retirees are urged to schedule their annual WTC Medical Monitoring exam. Early detection of any 9/11-related issues can be a life saver. You earned your pension and it’s your responsibility to your family to stay around to cash the checks. One of the main benefits of the Health Program is the 100 percent prescription coverage for anything 9/11-related. The program is fully automated and the RX’s are mailed directly to the member’s home. Everything is taken care of at your annual medical.
Skin cancer has now become the most common form of cancer for those exposed. Although the VCF compensates for skin cancer cases, the WTC Health Program does not screen for it. You should schedule, at a minimum, an annual fullbody skin check with a dermatologist through your city health plan or Medicare.
It’s good to note here that the WTC Health Program is national. If a member moves out of New York State, they can simply transfer to the national program with all the same benefits they received at the FDNY facilities.
On the legislative front, we will keep our members up to date as things move forward. RMA members, especially those who live outside the NY Metropolitan area, should contact their Senators and Congress Member to ask for their support.
(Editor’s note: DC Rich Alles (retired) served on the UFOA Board as Legislative Director. He currently serves as Director of 9/11 Community Affairs for the law firm Barasch, McGarry, Salzman and Penson.)