Lawmakers On Both Sides Of The Aisle Say It's Time For Those Suffering To Have The Help They Need For As Long As They Need It


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sept. 11 first responders, emergency workers and civilians suffering from related illnesses and the families of those who have died since the attack are one step closer to knowing they will be compensated for their heroism.

On Sunday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle announced that they’re working to ensure the Victim Compensation Fund, which is set to expire in 2020, will be extended indefinitely, CBS2’s Marc Liverman reported.

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While most of us would run away from a burning building, firefighter Rob Serra ran towards one on 9/11 after he got the call the World Trade Center had been hit.

FILE — Workers use a crane to hoist a New Jersey PATH train out of the excavation area of ground zero on Feb. 22, 2002. (Credit: Tom Sperduto/US Coast Guard/Getty Images)

“I turned around, got my gear, reported to a firehouse and eventually wound up here,” Serra said.

Ground zero is where Serra and thousands of other heroes worked to save lives day in and day out after the attack. But in the 18 years since that tragic day, Serra has suffered.

“Sleep apnea, PTSD, and now i’m having a lot of neurological issues — neuropathy, fibromyalgia — so I have a lot of shaking and nerve pain,” Serra said.

Serra was getting help for his health through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, but because of an increased number of claims there wasn’t even enough money to fulfill and help victims through the end of next year.

At least, until now.

“First responders were there for us. We need to be there for them,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said.

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On Sunday, members of Congress announced they were working to expand the fund for as long as victims and their families need it.

“It’s sending a signal that if, God forbid, something like this should happen in the future, America will stand by those who are wounded or killed in action,” Rep. Peter King said.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are working together for heroes like Serra and anyone else who has suffered illnesses related to the attack.

With regards to the bill, Congress will be holding a hearing on it this week and it’s expected to be voted on sometime in July.

“To our elected leaders all across the country, we’re asking you to stand tall and pass this legislation. Stand tall as the towers once stood,” FDNY Battalion Chief Jake Lemonda said.

So that Serra, his family and thousands of other victims can rest assured knowing that their country truly meant that they would never forget.

So far, lawmakers haven’t said how much the new compensation fund would cost or where the funding would come from.

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