A 9/11 memorial wall in Nesconset, New York will now bear the names of those with 9/11-related illnesses who have died of COVID-19.
The granite wall at 9/11 Responders Remembered Memorial Park currently lists the names of more than 1,500 heroes who died of illnesses they contracted due to breathing in toxins at Ground Zero. The move to add the names comes on the heels of a recent decision by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to grant benefits to those with certified 9/11 illnesses who die of COVID-19.
John Feal, a 9/11 first responder who runs the nonprofit FealGood Foundation, said the VCF’s response to the idea was overwhelming. “When I was done doing my presentation to the board, everybody voted unanimously to add those with a 9/11-related illness that have a compromised immune system and pass away from COVID. It was a no-brainer to add them,” Feal said in a news article.
“9/11 responder immune systems are compromised, so for the last 19 years their immune systems have deteriorated,” Feal noted. “They were not able to fight COVID-19 like they could have.”
As a result of the VCF’s decision, 22 names are expected to be added to the memorial wall within a few months, and as many as 80 names could be added by next fall. Since making the announcement, Feal says his foundation has received more than 150 submissions from families seeking to add their loved one’s names.
Here at Barasch & McGarry, we are grateful for the FealGood Foundation’s commitment to honoring Sept. 11 heroes stricken with 9/11-related illnesses and COVID-19. In a time when dying first responders and survivors often can’t be around their families or even receive proper funerals, it is even more important that we think of other ways to honor and remember these heroes.
We are also pleased that the VCF has extended benefits to responders and survivors who contract COVID-19. If you would like more information on this form of relief or any other aspect of the various health programs available to members of the 9/11 community, please call us at 212-385-8000.
Our New York law firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of the 9/11 community. Call us anytime at 888-351-9421 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an attorney. We’ll help you understand the VCF, the WTC Health Program, and help get you enrolled if you aren’t already.