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Remembering 9/11:
Compensation for First Responders, Victims Still Available

September 11, 2018

Still image from breaking news story on CNN 9/11/01 as news of the 911 attacks started to unfold. CLICK TO ENLARGE

CLICK TO ENLARGE: During a public forum at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, FBI Director Christopher Wray toured the museum that chronicles the worst terror attack in the nation's history. (Photo courtesy the 9/11 Memorial & Museum)

By Rex D. Cain

(NATIONAL) – Those of us who were alive to watch the event unfold live on national television will never forget those haunting images. Shock and freaking awe. Jetliners crashing into New York buildings that touched the sky. Explosions. Fire. People jumping to their deaths from those high rises to avoid burning alive. Those huge buildings burning and collapsing into rubble that no one assumed in their wildest dreams could ever burn and collapse like that.

All of it unfolding in living color in real time in living rooms everywhere. The “fake news” boys, as Trump now dares to call them, were out doing their damned jobs and doing it well, all things considered.

The thing was mind-numbingly surrealistic. Nobody could actually wrap their minds around the fact that America - the richest, most powerful bad-ass country on earth, the King of nukes, the home of Winchester rifles and gunfighters and the Atom bombs that wiped out Nagasaki and Hiroshima - was under attack.

And the attackers were having their way with us. Nobody could stop any of it. Not our Army, not the Air Force, not the CIA or NSA, not the cops, not loud mouthed politicians, nobody.

We were caught flat-footed, mouths open and in the sharp cross-hairs of killers who had studied us very well. Figured out our weak spots and then exploited them. Had they been serial killers instead of mass spree killers they might still be in business somewhere.

They were that good (and lucky) that day.

During the 9/11 attacks of 2001, some 2,996 people were killed (including the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured. These immediate deaths included 265 people on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area and 125 at the Pentagon.

September 11, 2011 was the end of innocence for all of us in so many ways. The end of the childish, woefully mistaken notion that America was not vulnerable to such an attack. It was one of those days when all the experts, all the assumptions were proven wrong.

But the death tally did not take into account the many fire responders who died later from illnesses brought about by exposure to toxic agents present in the rubble of the 9/11 buildings

Compensation for first responders still available

As the nation marks the 17th anniversary of those September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the FBI is helping to raise awareness about compensation that is still available to law enforcement personnel and other first responders who have fallen ill as a result of their selfless acts in the days and weeks after the attacks.

Speaking at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City last Friday, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted that in the past six months he has attended memorial services for three FBI special agents who died from illnesses related to their efforts in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

We are only now beginning to understand and witness the long-term effects of that work and the full extent of the sacrifices all of our first responders made,” Wray told a group of nearly 200 federal law enforcement officers during a public forum to provide information about federal programs available to those who responded to crash sites at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

According to the World Trade Center Health Program, which participated in Friday’s event with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, there have been more than 7,500 cancer cases with more than 350 first responders having died from 9/11-related illnesses.

The FBI has reported that 15 special agents have died from 9/11-related illnesses.

The 9/11 attacks were the most lethal in U.S. history and the FBI’s ensuing investigation was its largest ever. The crash sites represented the largest crime scene in FBI history. At the peak of the case, more than half of all agents were at work to identify the hijackers and their sponsors and, along with other agencies, to head off any possible future attacks.

The compensation fund

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was created by an act of Congress to provide compensation to individuals—or to family members of those who died—who suffered physical harm or were killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of the airliner crashes.

To date, according to the group’s website, nearly 21,000 individuals have become eligible for compensation, and more than 19,000 of them have been awarded funds. The total amount awarded exceeds $4.2 billion.

But here’s the thing: there is no telling when a first responder might fall ill. Officials at Friday’s event encouraged law enforcement officers and emergency personnel who worked at 9/11 sites, and who may still be at risk of illness, to register for possible compensation even if they are not ill now.

In the words of FBI Director Wray, “There are resources that may be available to you. You fought to make sure that what happened that day would never ever happen again. So let us help you now.”




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