Jewish Political News & Updates

11/12/2015 2:46 PM 

Elected Officials Rally Behind Zadroga Act to Aid Heroes with 9/11-Related Illness

by Ryan Haas


Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11), Congressman Peter King (NY-2), Sen. Martin Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, and a slew of first responders rallied Thursday in support of a permanent Zadroga Act extension.

The event focused on the personal stories of 9/11 heroes who risked everything to help others at Ground Zero, and now depend on the Zadroga Act benefits for treatment, monitoring and compensation.

“We came together today to focus on the heroes who selflessly rushed toward death and destruction in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. Many will pay for their heroism for the rest of their lives; some have already paid with their lives,” Congressman Donovan said. “Their stories speak louder than any of us standing behind a podium. It is cancer victims like Ret. Det. John Muller and widows like Jacqui Lopez who are the most forceful voices in support of a permanent Zadroga Act; I thank them for their time, their word, and — most of all – their sacrifice.”

As a former New York City police officer, State Sen. Martin Golden encouraged a reauthorization of the Zadroga Act, for it was “during the worst terrorist attack on American soil in the history of our democracy that our first-responders were there and stood strong in the face of danger.”

Golden added: “14 years later, their health continues to deteriorate because they were not afraid to put their own lives on the line for others. We must take care of these American heroes.”

First responders with 9/11-related conditions were given the podium to deliver moving remarks about their experience after the attacks and how they now rely on the World Trade Center Health Program and Victims Compensation Fund.

People like retired detective John Muller spent his free time in the months following 9/11 sifting through the rubble that filled the streets in downtown Manhattan. He took advantage of the WTC Health Program’s regular monitoring services, but was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and is now in the midst of chemotherapy treatment on the WTC Health Program’s dime.

Jacqui Lopez was also in attendance to speak on behalf of her late husband Lt. Luis Lopez, who passed away earlier this year from a 9/11-related heart condition. He received treatment, including an external heart pump, all through the WTC Health Program.

For these scenarios alone, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, Detectives Endowment Association President Mike Palladino, Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter, NYS Court Officers Association President Dennis Quirk, and Lieutenants Benevolent Association First Vice President Stephen Birbiglia, together with members of their respective organizations, all spoke about the importance of taking care of ill first responders.

“In the days and months after 9/11, our members responded without regard to whether they were on duty or off duty or whether they had adequate safety equipment,” Pat Lynch said. “They put duty before themselves, and are now suffering because of it. Our country owes them a permanent extension of the Zadroga Act and nothing less. Their illnesses have no expiration date.”