• 9/11 Victim Programs
  • Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
  • WTC Health Program (WTCHP)
  • Wrongful Death VCF Claims

Service on 9/11 and Service in Iraq – One Man’s Story

A retired Army Reservist Captain, New York Police Lieutenant, National Guard Officer, an intelligence officer. All four titles have been earned by one man – Anthony Caruso. This man has experienced 9/11 full circle – from the attack on the World Trade Center to serving in the war in Iraq. And Anthony Caruso still feels the effects of the 9/11 experience.

This was Anthony’s first memory of 9/11: “I was off that day and received a call early in the morning, telling me to turn on the TV – that our country had been attacked…I turned on the TV and was transfixed by what I saw.”

Like so many first responders – police, firefighters, and EMTs – Anthony and his National Guard unit went into immediate action, driving cargo trucks through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel amid cheers of ‘USA, USA’ from crowds as they made their way to the disaster site of Ground Zero. When they arrived, the unit worked 16-hour shifts where they secured the site and patrolled the area. Their responsibilities included participation in rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts.

Despite being equipped with Army-quality respirators, Anthony recalls a very strong aroma that he and members of his National Guard unit smelled whenever they removed the respirators to get a drink of water. This was, as Anthony states: “…the smell of destruction…a burning tire kind of smell – one you will never forget.” These words would turn out to be all too true.

Five years after his service at Ground Zero, Anthony went on military leave with the NYPD to fight in the war with Iraq, where his rank was that of intelligence officer. And it was on his tour of duty in Iraq that he was instinctively reminded of what he smelled at Ground Zero, only this time it was coming from the Army’s “burn pits.”

Significantly, Anthony had no history of respiratory trouble – until the time period between 2002 and 2003, after his time at Ground Zero. Since then, he has developed a host of other conditions that include asthma, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), sleep apnea, and the growth of polyps on his vocal cords, nose, and colon, and a growth in his breast. (These have been removed and discovered to be benign.)

For himself and his colleagues, Anthony has since researched how the strong aroma – at Ground Zero and later in Iraq – ties in with the toxins and contaminated air that spread and remained throughout Lower Manhattan between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. “At first, I was skeptical about the connection between the air and the illnesses, but after seeing more and more of these cases and connecting the dots and all of the new things that are coming to light all these years later, this is far too coincidental. I saw people develop cancers and all sorts of health issues.” One such case was the late NYPD officer Luis Alvarez.

As with many others, Anthony kept close track of the progress to see the passage of the bill – “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” – which the late Luis Alvarez was instrumental in helping to achieve. And he was one of many for whom Anthony empathizes with: “To see the healthy individual he was – and see what he went through and see him fighting for everyone till his last breath – is beyond commendable. I respect the man beyond words.”

It was the courage of people like Luis Alvarez and James Zadroga, combined with his own health-related issues that motivated Anthony to apply for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through the firm of Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP. Added encouragement came from his wife, Doreen, whose observation of the many relatively young people that have become afflicted with a 9/11 cancer or other related condition as a result of being at Ground Zero has been especially difficult to come to terms with: “You never think anything is going to happen, but you just don’t know. You’re so busy with everyday life and you pray these health issues will not get worse. Then another illness appears. When you see Lou [Alvarez], you realize this is your life and it needs to be addressed.”

Fittingly, Anthony is being represented by Troy Rosasco, who is himself a veteran and who considers it a special honor to help a fellow serviceman who has defended the United States. “Just like Agent Orange in Vietnam, the toxins at Ground Zero are causing cancers 18 years later,” Mr. Rosasco states. “Thankfully, both the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program provide both medical and monetary assistance for our veterans.”

This respect is mutual, as Anthony feels and peace of mind in allowing Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP to represent him: “Their caring and constant communication has been great. They’re very proactive in addressing these issues with compassion. When facing a lot of unknowns, it’s good to have a law firm that’s on your side to address these issues and informs you of your rights. Sharing more information is always a good thing. Anybody that was down there at Ground Zero – and that’s probably tens of thousands of people, that over the years got sick because of their exposure to that toxic air – they have to be aware of where to go for help. They have to be educated about what options they have.”

The key word in the previous sentence is “educated.” If you were at or near Ground Zero on 9/11 or in the months that followed, you must become educated about the resources available to you in the event you become ill with a related cancer or illness. And the lawyers at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP can provide information and help on everything from registering with the Victim Compensation Fund to the benefits that might be available through the World Trade Center Health Program. Contact them today at 1-800-887–7299 or visit their website to chat online with a member of the team to find out if you are eligible for compensation.

Consider these words from Anthony Caruso as a guide: “Whoever was down there now has a sense of support and some level of confidence that their sacrifice and service will not be forgotten.”

Here’s a special thank you to Anthony Caruso, who has been an Army Reservist Captain, New York Police Lieutenant, National Guard Officer and intelligence officer – and perhaps most importantly, a husband and father. Your sacrifice and service will never be forgotten, and we at Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP will continue to help you and your family.