Why are there Pentagon and Shanksville 9/11 Responders who can not enroll in the WTC Health Program?
In 2010, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was passed to provide health care and compensation to all 9/11 responders and survivors to the World Trade Center and to all the responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville as well.
Based on an interpretation of the original law from 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not been enrolling some Pentagon and Shanksville responders in the World Trade Center Health Program including many soldiers and sailors who were active-duty military on 9/11.
Although over 1,200 Pentagon and Shanksville responders are enrolled to in the World Trade Center Health Program so far, making up 1% of the 122,000 total responders and survivors in the program, the HHS counsel’s office has determined that certain responders who were Federal employees, who were not law enforcement cannot be enrolled in the program.
While employees of Federal agencies including Department of Defense employees both, military and civilian, who responded to the World Trade Center attack in New York have been admitted to the WTC Health Program, Department of Defense, active-duty military and civilian responders and responders from other Federal Agencies who deployed to the Pentagon and Shanksville crash site are not being allowed to join the WTC Health Program.
For example many companies of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment the “Old Guard “ responded on 9/11 and in the days after, but those soldiers cannot enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program.
It was never the intention of the original sponsors of the 2010 bill to exclude any 9/11 responder to the Pentagon or Shanksville from being able to enroll in the health program especially any members of the military.
Here is a NY Daily News article about the issue from August 29th 2022, Veterans who worked as 9/11 first responders can’t access WTC health program due to a technicality.
According to HHS, over the last ten years HHS has denied at least 15 Department of Defense employees, civilian and active military at the time, who responded to the Pentagon and Shanksville, applied and were rejected that they know about that there are certainly more responders than that who should be able to join the program and are being excluded from the program.
What can be done about it?
To fix this problem Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) along with Members of Congress Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)), Anthony D ’Esposito (R-NY), Dan Goldman ( (D-NY) and other members of Congress have introduced bi partisan legislation, the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023 HR.1294/ S.569.
This legislation would fix this problem and would allow responders who were employees of Federal agencies including Department of Defense both, military and civilian, and responders from other Federal Agencies who deployed to the Pentagon and Shanksville crash site to enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program and get medical monitoring and treatment.
It would also fix the impending budget shortfall facing the WTC Health Program and ensure that it would be fully funded going forward.
Gillibrand Braun Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act
On July 27th, 2023 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-NY), along with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) sponsored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act ( NDAA) , amendment #1065 that was successfully adopted by an overwhelming bi partisan vote of 94 to 4. Regretfully 4 Senators,
The Amendment would:
- Ensure that all 9/11 responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville who were active-duty DOD military or civilians, along with other Federal employees, will be able to join the program. Currently some responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville sites are prevented from joining.
- Help to close the impending funding shortfall facing the World Trade Center Health Program by providing an additional $444 million dollars to the program over the next ten years.
- This amendment was fully paid for under legislative rules.
Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act released a statement thanking Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY),who were joined in this bipartisan effort by Indianna Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) for their work on behalf of 9/11 injured and ill responders who now will be able to be served by the program and for the responders and survivors in the program already.
With passage of the Senate version of the NDAA, we will have to wait for the fall when the House and Senate versions are reconciled, and a final bill is sent to the President but with such an overwhelming vote this provision is expected to be in the final version that will become law.
If you are a responder to the Pentagon and or Shanksville and you have questions you an contact us here in our web portal.
July 27, 2023 — Newsday — Senate approves $676 million for World Trade Center health fund
The Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act Thursday to address the World Trade Center Health Program’s funding shortfall and to expand its services.
August 29, 2022 — NY Daily News — Veterans who worked as 9/11 first responders can’t access WTC health program due to technicality
Nate Coward didn’t ask questions when his company of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment was called on to recover and bury the Pentagon’s dead.
December 18, 2022 — Newsday — Fate of WTC Health Program funding tied to omnibus spending bill
A $3.6 billion measure to fully fund the WTC Health Program over the next decade hangs in the balance as lawmakers negotiate on an omnibus bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
August 30, 2022 — NY Daily News — Cover them too: Defense personnel should be covered by the 9/11 health program
Why does the health program set up by Congress for responders and survivors exclude Department of Defense personnel?
July 27th, 2023, Summary of Gillibrand Braun Amendment 1065
July 27th, 2023, Senate Roll Call 206 on Amendment 1065