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Jon Stewart’s Plea for 9/11 First Responders

By Hansen & Rosasco

On Tuesday, June 11, an important hearing in Congress was held about making the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund permanent. Jon Stewart, formerly of the Daily Show, gave impassioned testimony on why Congress should allocate more money to the to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The purpose of this hearing was an attempt to ensure the replenishment of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) , and a push for Congress to be more efficient in getting first responders VCF payouts, in return for their sacrifice and service to New York and the country. This hearing presented opposites of extremes. The bill that permanently authorizes the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund passed out of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

The first extreme was how the audience section was packed to capacity, mostly with first responders who answered the call to aid recovery efforts immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The second extreme was the section where members of Congress sat; or rather, where they didn’t sit.

Ironic? Yes. And this irony was not lost by political satirist and talk show host, Jon Stewart, who has become a champion for 9/11 first responders, and an advocate for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Mr. Stewart’s sense of dry irony quickly gave way to emotional outrage. Watching video of the meeting, it appears that only half of the members of Congress were present. Contrastingly, the front row of seats were vacant, while the back row was occupied.

Mr. Stewart noted that the subcommittee hearing was an ‘incredible metaphor” for the process of trying to get VCF payouts, healthcare and other benefits for 9/11 first responders, many of whom suffer from 9/11 cancers and illnesses. He did not mince words, calling the poor turnout and “embarrassment to the country” and “a stain on this institution” (meaning Congress). He emphasized that first responders who were present in the room with him were not there for themselves, but for all policemen, firefighters, medics, and all others who put their lives on the line on September 11, 2001, and in the months afterward at Ground Zero. They wanted rights for their fellow first responders.

Here is another opposite of extremes: Mr. Stewart emphasized that the official response time for members of the NYPD, Port Authority, and EMS to go into action on 9/11, was just five seconds. Despite this incredible sacrifice, it has taken, and continues to take, years for first responders to be adequately compensated for their heroism. Not surprisingly, the issues are financial. VCF payouts and support for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund have never been needed more.

Part of the financial problem, as Brandon Carter pointed out in NPR, is the recent spike in the number of 9/11 claims for benefits. Compounding this problem is that the “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” HR.1327/ S.546 has, as Mr. Carter states, “languished” in the House of Representatives. It is small wonder then, that Mr. Stewart and so many others are confounded, confused, and angry by this situation.

In one of many passionate statements Mr. Stewart made in addressing the subcommittee, one stands out with special resonance: “Your indifference cost these men and women cost these men and women their most valuable commodity… time…the one thing they’re running out of.”

Yes. Time is limited for many of these first responders, who suffer from various 9/11 cancers and conditions. They were stripped of their health when they served on the days and months following the 9/11 attacks. They should not be stripped of their rightful compensation. As difficult as the obstacles are, if you served as a first responder, or know someone who did, the time to act is now. Click on this link, which will redirect you to the “Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.” Here, you can find your member of Congress and where he or she stands on this issue. Additionally, you can add your name and contact information to show support for this act. The more names that are added, the stronger the collective voice for first responders will be heard. Our team of 9/11 lawyers passionately advocates for ongoing support and care for all 9/11 victims.

The 9/11 lawyers at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP serve as a voice for all 9/11 victims, and have been since the very beginning in 2001. If you or a loved one was a first responder and have paid the price with your health, we can be your advocate. Contact us TODAY for a free case evaluation at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1- 800-887-7299). Together, we can work toward helping you receive the VCF payout you deserve.

Posted under: 9/11 Cancers
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