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Mad Men Part 2: Helping Our 9/11 First Responders

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In my story entitled "Mad Men: A Congress Out of Control" (8/10/10), I promised to provide information on how the public can help our first responders pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010" or HR 847. This bill would provide medical and economic assistance to the men and women who helped save thousands of Americans on September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington D.C.

HR 847 was shot down in the House of Representatives on July 30th of this year because of partisan politics on both sides of the aisle. However, this bill is up for consideration again on September 20th, and here is what you can do to ensure that it passes this time around.

This Wednesday, September 15th, there will be rally and press conference on the West Lawn of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. co-sponsored by the FealGood Foundation (FGF) and the New York State AFL-CIO. Thousands of attendees from the tri-state area will be taking buses from various pick up points in Long Island, NYC and NJ. If you are interested in attending this rally, you must call either Anne Marie Baumann, VP of the Fealgood Foundation, at 516-551-0986 or Suzy Ballantyne of the NYS AFL-CIO at 518-436-8516 by 6 p.m. today.

After the press conference at 12:15 p.m., members of the FGF, AFL-CIO and their supporters will divide into groups to lobby congressional offices. Co-sponsors of the bill will be there to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding HR 847. At 3:00 p.m. there will be a "remembrance ceremony" to pay tribute to the thousands of Americans who perished on 9/11/01, and the first responders who subsequently died from medical diseases related to the terrorist attacks.

If you are unable to attend this rally, the next best thing you can do is to call your local house representative, and demand to speak to the Congressman's 9/11 health representative (all 50 states have one). Their info is provided at http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml. When you call, let the contact know that you want your Congressman to vote for HR 847 on September 20. You may click on your state to see who is the proper representative is for your district - or you may search alphabetically if you know your local Congressperson's name and district.

The New York Police Department, Fire Department, Port Authority, Emergency Medical Services, construction workers and volunteers from all over the country inhaled over 250,000 toxins at Ground Zero after the World Trade Centers fell. Doctors are discovering diseases that didn't exist before this disaster ... especially pulmonary (lung) illnesses. This bill will fund medical research that can save the lives of over 25,000 men and women who are still suffering from the effects of the toxic air.

As of 9/11/10, 973 first responders have died from heart, lung and cancer-related illnesses from exposure to the air at Ground Zero. There are four additional first responders that are dying as of the print date of this article.

The Zadroga bill would provide $7.4 billion in medical monitoring and treatment to WTC responders and survivors (workers, residents, students) who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero. It would expand on the existing monitoring and treatment program at Centers of Excellence, which provide medical testing, research, blood work, pulmonary function testing, MRI's, X-rays and specialized care to the WTC responders. And it would reopen the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide compensation for economic losses sustained by all those affected by illness/death of WTC workers at the site and their families.

On a positive note - this time there will be a straight up and down vote on HR 847, so if more than 50% of the House votes "yea" the bill goes on to the Senate for revisions. In July, there was a "suspension" vote requiring 2/3 of the House to approve the legislation, which did not happen.

If you care about our American heroes, start dialing those phones and contact your local Congressman or woman. This is an issue we can all agree on.