After NYPD Detective James Zadroga passed away in 2006, the campaign to secure health care and compensation for people sick from exposure to Ground Zero toxins continued to build.
A Barasch & McGarry client and Detectives Endowment Association (DEA) member, Zadroga’s passing demonstrated that – despite claims by government officials – the air near Ground Zero was not safe to breathe.
Later that year, New York State increased the death benefits paid to the families of 9/11 responders who had died of cancer or respiratory illness.
But labor unions representing the 100,000 first responders who deployed to Lower Manhattan on and after 9/11 realized that comprehensive federal programs were necessary to support the victims.
In collaboration with the New York State congressional delegation, advocates prepared legislation that would ultimately become the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Thousands of union members – many of whom had been diagnosed with 9/11 cancers or respiratory illness – went to Capitol Hill to lobby their representatives.
Their efforts succeeded – majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which President Obama signed into law in early 2011.
Today, the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 VCF help 9/11 responders and survivors who are diagnosed with 68 types of cancers and many respiratory illnesses.
The health program offers free medical care for 9/11-related illnesses at clinics across the United States.
The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.
But more than a decade later, there are still tens of thousands of union first responders and survivors who have not yet registered with the VCF.
We have a responsibility to inform them about their right to access health care and compensation.
If you were in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 or during the eight following months, you are eligible to register – even if you are currently healthy.
Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, which represents 30,000 members of the 9/11 community, has proudly advocated for union members for more than twenty-five years.
Visit www.911unions.com or call 800-314-0683 today.