9/11 Responders, Others Haven’t Applied for Benefits: Feds
There have been more than 7,500 cancer cases with more than 350 first responders having died from 9/11-related illnesses, according to the World Trade Center Health Program. And to date, more than 20,000 people have registered for health monitoring and benefits. But, on Friday, officials warned thousands of emergency personnel and area residents at risk of illness that still have not signed up for benefits and compensation to do so.
“The thing that amazes us every time we come and talk to claimants and potential claimants is how few people are aware that these programs are available for them,” said September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Special Master Rupa Bhattacharryya.
FBI Director Christopher Wray is among those touring the 9/11 Memorial on Friday to try to help raise awareness that benefit programs remain open. Those programs he said “provide vital assistance to those who have become sick as a result of their 9/11 exposure.”
Retired FBI agent Perry Forgione was one of the first agents on scene after the planes hit. He worked to rescue and evacuate people as those trapped on the top floors began to jump.
“I started seeing the really bad stuff,” Forgione said.
Then the towers fell, engulfing downtown Manhattan in a plume of toxic smoke and dust.
Forgione has been suffering respiratory difficulties, nerve and vision issues and now the threat of cancer. “Of course that’s what I am worried about because I just got some results they want to see me about.”
Forgione said the 9/11 Health Benefit program has been a great help and he encourages anyone who was there on that day – sick now or not – to register.
While police and firefighters have been active in registering in part because of their unions, fewer than 1,000 federal workers from the FBI, ATF, FEMA and Secret Service, among others, have signed up even though many more worked at Ground Zero and the surrounding area.
Health and compensation benefits are not only available to responders, workers and residents in and around lower Manhattan, but also those affected by the attacks on the Pentagon and the crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“You fought to make sure that what happened that day would never ever happen again. So let us help you now,” FBI Director Wray told nearly 200 federal workers gathered at the 9/11 Museum. “Take time now, for once, to put yourself first.”
For more information on how to file a claim, officials said visit www.VCF.gov.
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