Has Your Elected Official Forgotten the Victims of 9/11?

I wish I could devote all of my time writing my latest novel or providing you with entertaining blog posts relating to my books and characters, but sadly I find myself having to turn to you and beg for your support in a much larger issue: The Heroes and Victims of the September 11th Terror Attacks.

Every September 11th, our elected representatives love to get out in front of the cameras and proclaim that we American’s should never forget the victims of the horrific terrorist attack and that we should always remember the heroes of that day. Yet that is exactly what they do beginning September 12th. Apparently, the only ones needing a reminder are those in government.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is on the brink of collapse strictly because Congress failed to adequately fund it.  Simply put, without proper funding, the program will close in 2020. This will leave many within the 9/11 community without treatment for the toxins they were exposed to, even though the government lied and said the air was safe. In addition, many rely on the promised compensation because they are dying from attributed illnesses and know their families will need this money after they are gone. Imagine for a moment a first responder on the brink of losing their homes, simply because they rushed to the aid of their fellow American’s.

Yet our vaunted politicians in Congress provided less than $5 billion dollars for a program that was not set to expire till 2090, yet they provide $45 - $50 billion ANNUALLY in foreign aid.

Since the attacks of September 11th, the United States has sent nearly $100 billion dollars in aid to Afghanistan, the country from which the attacks were planned and launched.  It is unconscionably that our representatives treat foreign countries better than their own American citizens.

Tell Congress to treat our 9/11 victims and heroes with at least the same dignity and respect that is given to foreign countries.

The link below provides a way for you to see whether or not your elected representatives have supported the funding of the Zadroga Bill. All you have to do is put in your address and it will tell you immediately.

CLICK HERE TO SEE IF YOUR REPRESENTATIVE SUPPORT THE ZADROGA BILL?

Let them know that even though they may have forgotten, you haven’t!! Never Forget should be more than a catchy hashtag.

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Stabbed in the Back (Again) – 9/11’s Forgotten Heroes

It pains me greatly to have to write this, but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of politicians in Washington, D.C. truly wish we would all die. That may sound harsh, but there can be no other answer to explain their callousness when it comes to this issue.

Every September 11th, they seize on the opportunity to wrap themselves up in faux patriotism, jump in front of the cameras, and boldly proclaim that they will #NeverForget, but the reality is that come September 12th, they have already FORGOTTEN.

Let me explain to you what is at stake here. Right now, there are thousands of first responders and victims of the attack who are dealing with terminal illnesses, as a result of their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. For some it is not a simple cancer diagnosis, but multiple cancer diagnosis. Many are incapacitated to the point that they cannot work, meaning they are left with skyrocketing medical bills along with their own personal bills. The stories are heartbreaking.

Imagine being one of these heroes, who spent countless hours of self-sacrifice at Ground Zero, risking their lives for others, but now you have to struggle to come up with enough money to keep a roof over your head? Yes, this is happening in America today. What’s worse is that the very system setup to help, has been slow-walking the processing of claims for years. My own VCF claim for cancer has languished in some federal employee’s in-box for well over a year and has not even been looked at. My lawyers tell me that it will be an additional six months to a year before it is even reviewed. I can guarantee you that every payday those dedicated employees are getting THEIR checks on time. I’m not sure what these employees are being paid for this work, but I can tell you that the Special Master in charge of running this program earns close to a cool quarter of a million dollars a year for running this debacle.

When the original Victim’s Compensation Fund was created, shortly after the attacks, it was NOT out of the kindness of their collective political hearts. They did it simply because they were playing a game of CYA. Why you ask? Well, for starters, the government lied to us by claiming that the air was SAFE, even though they knew it wasn’t. Then, they decided that in exchange for their quick settlement we could not sue the airlines or the government. But that original VCF plan only ran for a short time and was shut down.

It took a number of years, and a growing community of sick first responders and victims, before the politicians acquiesced. In 2010, they passed a new iteration of the VCF called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and then in 2015 they reauthorized, providing coverage for victims through 2090. The only problem was that they never adequately funded it. In fact, it was ridiculously underfunded. To be clear, the government was intimately aware of the escalating cases of deaths and diseases from exposure to toxins at Ground Zero and opted to slap a Band-Aid on the wound.

On February 15th, 2019, a notice went out from the Special Master. It effectively notified those who had claims waiting to be processed by the VCF that the fund was running out of money and that any awards would now be slashed by 50%. It further stated that any new claims that were filed would see a 70% reduction.

 

Mind you, this is the same government that sends billions of dollars annually to FOREIGN governments, but turns a blind eye to the heroes and victims of the worst terror attack in U.S. History. What has become of this great nation when we send more money annually to the nation that the 9/11 attack was launched from then we provide for the victims during the life of the program?

The government would like you to believe that the effects of the attack ended shortly after September 11th. Here is a newsflash: On September 11th, 2001, I lost 23 NYPD brothers and a sister. Since then, we have lost nearly 6x that number and those are only the ones that the NYPD has gotten around to approving. The actual number is probably closer to 200, if not more, and it will only rise. I wish I could tell you the number of FDNY, but it is safe to safe that it is even higher for them.  The reason that the numbers are even this low is because these agencies, in concert with the city, are trying to fight the awarding of any additional line of duty designations. In the end, it is all about money. The government certifies your illness as being directly attributed to the attack, but the city ignores it.

You would think getting approval for the funding of the Zadroga Act would be a political ground ball, but you would be wrong. To date, there are only 21 sponsors in the Senate and only 93 in the House; which means that of the 535 total members of Congress, 421 have FORGOTTEN. What is equally galling to me is the fact that from the Republican side, MY party, there are a combined total of twenty-five. Yep, those same folks who wrap themselves up in the flag every year and proclaim #NeverForget are a bunch of lying SOB’s. Hell, I can’t even get my own Congressman, Rodney Davis, to respond to my communications to him, let alone to co-sponsor the bill. All he can come up with is catchy tweets once a year.

This will not change unless Americans do something about it. If you are one of those people that reminisce every year about where you were on the morning of September 11th, then you need to do something for those people who were THERE on September 11th.

The heroes and victims of 9/11 are sick, dying and running out of time. They need YOUR help and they need it now. Contact your Senators and Representatives and DEMAND that they treat them just as well as we treat our ‘friends’. No more Foreign Aid until America’s heroes are taken care of first.

Media Outlets: If you are interested in discussing this matter, please CONTACT ME directly.

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September 11th – Yes, they have FORGOTTEN

Update – I wish I didn’t have to write this update, but I do.

As a mystery author, I often include salacious political twists in my storylines, but I am finding that sometimes art doesn’t come close to matching the twisted machinations of what goes on in the back rooms of Washington, D.C.

Back in October 2018, I wrote a post titled: NEVER FORGET THE HEROES. It dealt with the need of Congress to address the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act (S. 3591 / H.R. 7062), which is scheduled to run out of money in 2020.

If you are like me, you have to wonder why programs such as this are always facing financial peril, yet we never seem to run out of money to fund pressing issues like spending $15 million to study the effectiveness of golf equipment in space or a $43 million gas station in Afghanistan.  Hell, I recall reading one report where the Department of Defense purchased, and then left unused, approximately 270,000 commercial airline tickets at a total cost of $100 million. To compound the problem, the bean-counters over at the Pentagon never bothered to get a refund for the fully refundable tickets. Of course they didn’t and why should they? It is a clear case of: OPM – Other People’s Money, namely YOURS.

If Americans spent just one afternoon casually perusing the voluminous articles there are on wasteful congressional (and overall governmental) spending, Washington D.C. would be a charred, barren wasteland by morning. Yet, when it comes to funding a bill that would provide compensation and medical coverage for the victims of the deadliest terror attack in United States history, the congress seems to have a really hard time trying to find the money. But how much money are we talking about?

Well, the last re-authorization of the bill, in 2015, allocated just under $5 billion to fund it till 2020. Now, this might sound like a lot of money, and it is, except for when you consider some other interesting spending  facts. In 2016, the last full fiscal year analyzed, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) determined that the United States provided roughly $49 billion in foreign aid. So in just one year we provided nearly 10x the funding to foreign nations than we allocated to caring for our sick and dying first responders.  Yet even this staggering amount of $49 billion in foreign aid still only accounted for about 1.2 percent of the total annual federal budget.

If you think this is bad, consider the following.

Afghanistan, the country from where 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden orchestrated the terror attacks has received the following funding since 2001:

2001 - $92 million

2002 – $508 million

2003 – $984 million

2004 – $1.9 billion

2005 – $1.7 billion

2006 – $3.4 billion

2007 – $4.9 billion

2008 – $8.3 billion

2009 – $8.6 billion

2010 – $7.8 billion

2011 – $11 billion

2012 – $10 billion

2013 – $10 billion

2014 – $7.1 billion

2015 – $9.1 billion

2016 – $4.2 billion

2017 – $4.9 billion

(Source: USAID https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/AFG disbursements)

For those mathematically inclined, that is nearly $100 billion in funding to the very same country from which the attack was planned. Now you can see why many of the victims feel as if we are being left alone to die. Victims have to beg for funding while money is being thrown hand over fist at our attacker. Hell, we even have to BEG for support from our own elected representatives; which brings me right back to my original post.

In October 2018, I reached out to my congressional representative, Rodney Davis (R-IL), through his official government website and asked him to co-sponsor H.R. 7062. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, since he actually represents a first responder who was directly impacted by the attack. I contacted him and I waited…… and I waited. In the three months since, my wife has contacted his office twice and received correspondence from his office.

Me? Not so much.

I guess an NYPD 9/11 survivor with cancer doesn’t merit a stamp.

Perhaps I am better off. The form-letter version I received from him, the last time around, pretty much made my blood boil.

Rodney has spoken out in the past about the attack, but, just like other politicians, he only seems to #NeverForget when the cameras are rolling. Unfortunately, I #REMEMBER every single day. Something else I will remember is Election Day 2020 and I will do my utmost, to remind everyone I know in the 13th Congressional District, to send a message to Rep. Davis. In fact, I still have a few local reporters on my speed-dial and I am sure they would love to do a timely piece.

To find out if your elected representatives have supported 9/11 victims, please visit the following link:

http://www.renew911health.org/take-action/take-action-contact-your-members-of-congress/

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Never Forget the Heroes: The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Act (S. 3591 / H.R. 7062)

FORGOTTEN – The lost Heroes & Widows of September 11th

This is a post I never thought I would have to write (again), but I should have known better.

You see, I spent twenty years as a cop in New York City. I learned early on that when the camera lights dim and the T.V. satellite trucks leave, the tragedy of the crime scene is quickly forgotten. In the days and weeks following the September 11th terrorist attacks we were told by the leaders of this great nation, who obligingly wrapped themselves in the flag for the photo-ops, that America would simply #NeverForget the heroes, yet 17 years later I can confirm to you that we have indeed been forgotten.

The reality is that the September 11th attack is not a distant memory. We are quickly approaching the time where we will have lost just as many to 9/11 attributed illnesses as we did on the day of the attack. The aftermath of the attack has never ended.

Those of us who responded that fateful day were aware of the dangers we faced, even after being lied to by the ‘Honorable’ Christine Todd Whitman, who was then head of the EPA, that the air was safe. Ms. Whitman now regrets her role in perpetuating the lie. Gee thanks for nothing, Chrissy. Anyone who was there can tell you that there was nothing even remotely safe, including the air, but they did their jobs without consideration of the risks. Unfortunately, as soon as the sicknesses began to set in, the politicians, like those T.V. crews, packed up and moved on.

“Heroes, what heroes?”

It took nearly a decade to get the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act passed.

As a Republican, I am profoundly ashamed to say that it was my party that stood in the way. What should have been a bill that both sides could have rallied around became a political football, with Republicans threatening to filibuster the bill unless they got tax-cut concessions. Apparently #NeverForget the Heroes is politician-speak for: “What can I get out of this?”

In 2015, politicians were once again shamed into backing an extension of the bill and once again it was the Republicans who dragged their heels. Amazingly, when it comes to their pet projects they are all about funding, but when it comes to helping out people who have truly earned it, they all become die-hard fiscal conservatives.

Now here we are, in 2018, and funding is again running out. And just like in the past, these same politicians need to be shamed into acting.

In 2015, my congressional representative, Rodney Davis, was on record saying the following:  “We will never forget. I remember we were on vacation and I was getting Toryn ready to go to the beach when a plane hit the second tower 14 years ago. Where were you?”

Well Rodney, I can tell you I wasn’t at no friggin’ beach like you were! But you already knew that (hint: Rodney and I used to be on a first name basis a few years ago, but then he got elected to congress and forgot about the people who supported him.)

Sadly, I had to shame Mr. Davis (How “Never Forget the Heroes of 9/11” turned into “Who?”) before he finally signed on as a co-sponsor for the 2015 extension

Back then I got a form letter e-mail response from him, something to the effect that he would be ‘looking into it.’ This time I didn’t even get so much as an e-mail acknowledgment (Perhaps it is lost in the internet). So, it looks like I am going to have to do it all over again. Who knows, perhaps he might even find himself in a contested election, the next time around…… You know, by an actual hero who won’t forget.

The sad reality is that the men and women who rushed in to help on September 11th, 2001, are sick and DYING and a lot of politicians would just be happy to see them go quietly into the grave. They are losing their homes because they are having to choose between receiving medical treatments or keeping a roof over their families head. Widows are being nickel and dimed to death through award ‘deductions’ in what the system cheerfully calls “collateral assets”…….. Funny how the Victim’s Compensation Fund is making victims out of us a 2nd time around.

I know we all have our problems, our own issues, but I am begging each and every one of you to stop for just a moment and please contact your elected representative and urge them to sponsor this bill. If they are a member of the Senate it is S. 3591 and if they are a member of the House it is H.R. 7062. Of all the things they can slash, it shouldn’t be the health benefits of those who gave every last measure that tragic day.

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These are the facts today:

  • The more than 42,000 people who are in the World Trade Center Health Program are suffering from at least one certified 9/11 condition caused by toxins at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the Shanksville crash site, while a large percentage have multiple conditions.

  • Chronic diseases like asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and cancer continue to plague those who were exposed to the many toxins and carcinogens on 9/11 and in the weeks and months thereafter.

  • Over 9,300 of those enrolled in the Health Program have been certified with a 9/11 related cancer, with more being diagnosed every day. Thousands more who have been diagnosed with cancer are only now joining the health program, so these numbers will increase dramatically.

  • 9/11 responders and survivors in the Health Program reside in all 50 states and in 434 out of 435 Congressional districts.