On July 29, President Donald Trump signed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund legislation into law, extending a financial lifeline to the thousands of police officers and firefighters suffering from illnesses related to the September 11 terrorist attacks. This was a great day for America, and particularly for first responders.
Action on the bill followed months of work across the board from those seeking to extend aid for first responders, their families and other victims who continue to suffer the devastating aftereffects of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Roughly 410,000 people were exposed to contaminants at Ground Zero, including 90,000 police officers, firefighters and other first responders who answered the call for action.
As the primary police force for the World Trade Center, the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) lost 37 officers — the most of any police force in our nation’s history on a single day. Along with the World Trade Center properties, the PAPD patrols some of the largest transportation hubs in the country, including JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports. As airport police officers, they remain on the front lines of combating terrorism at some of the highest-profile targets across the nation, and it is crucial that they have the reassurance that their sacrifice will be honored. There can be no better honor to their memories than the Victim Compensation Fund.
The reauthorization of the Victim Compensation Fund sets an important precedent for the way our nation cares for and honors its first responders in the aftermath of traumatic events like 9/11. With the help of this fund, thousands of officers and their families will continue to receive crucial financial support for their medical expenses throughout the duration of their lifetimes. This marks an important recognition that the impact of these tragedies is not limited by time, and that we must continue to come to the aid of those who are still suffering so that our nation may heal as a whole.
“There are no words other than gratitude,” says Port Authority Police Benevolent Association President Paul Nunziato. “The passage of this bill shows great respect for all of us who rose to the call. We thank everyone who supported this legislation, on behalf of those who are still here and those who are not from their service. I serve with many who have made and would make a split-second decision to protect the people we serve and our fellow officers. The Port Authority Police have done this, and it is important that we as a country give them what is included in the Victim Compensation Fund.”
“On behalf of all LAAPOA members, we too are thankful and will also never forget,” Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association President Marshall McClain says.