In addition to the nearly 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001, 900 more have reportedly died as a result of conditions they encountered in the days and weeks after the attacks.
These people include police, firefighters iron workers and laborers. Still others, like retired New York City firefighter John Gallagher, live on.
“I’ve been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis from my work at the world trade center site,” Gallagher said. “I’m to the point now where I have to be on oxygen 24 hours a day.”
First Responder and advocate John Feal founded the FealGood Foundation to assist those affected by 9/11 and said the situation is dire.
“I see people not being able to put food on their table, not put gas in their car to get to a kimo-therapy appointment, it’s un-American” he said.
What the group wants is healthcare and compensation for the injuries and diseases they suffer from but cannot pay for. It is outlined in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is set to be voted on next week. It is the second time the bill has come to Congress. The first time it was defeated in late July, with all but 12 republicans voting against it. They called it a “slush fund.”
First responders say they are hoping for a different outcome this time around.
“We’re not asking. We’re not begging. Heroes don’t beg. We’re demanding that next week our bill goes on the floor as a regular rules vote with no shenanigans, no games.”
New York Congressman Anthony Weiner agreed; “We have a lot of obligations to people in war time – one of which is to keep them healthy. We failed in that and it’s not too late to make it right I hope.”
The bill, HR 847, is set to be heard by the US House of Representatives sometime next week and by the Senate, shortly after.