This past weekend, as we ushered in a New Year, the 9/11 community marked an important milestone. Ten years ago, on January 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which established the World Trade Center Health Program and reactivated the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). This ensured that the tens of thousands of individuals and families impacted by the terrorist attacks of that day, and the subsequent clean-up and debris removal efforts, would have access to the medical care and compensation they desperately need.
From its earliest days, the mission of the VCF was – and remains – one of service to the 9/11 community. And while our focus is always forward-looking, fixed on the important work that remains to be done on their behalf, it is heartening to reflect on the progress we have made, and on the significant strides of the last five years. During its first five years, as operations got up and running, the VCF issued over 9,000 awards totaling $1.8 billion in compensation. Over the past five years, we issued awards to over 25,000 additional claimants, worth an additional $5.94 billion. In total, in the ten years since the passage of the Zadroga Act, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to nearly 34,500 eligible claimants.
We are understandably proud of our progress, and gratified to have garnered a level of Congressional confidence that supported the VCF’s long-term reauthorization, via the “Never Forget the Heroes, James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” which President Trump signed into law on July 29, 2019. This was an historic achievement made possible by the responders, survivors, and advocates whose tireless efforts ensured our ability to continue our important work. The relief of having a program that will be in place for the foreseeable future is significant, tempered only by the scope of the increasing need in a community that is likely to suffer the consequences of the September 11th attacks for decades to come.
I am in equal parts proud of the progress that has been made over the past 10 years, and humbled by the number of people who have been helped, the number who remain in need, and the unknown number whose health may still be impacted in the years to come. Our mission remains as vital today as it was when we began. My team and I remain deeply committed to the 9/11 community, and devoted to ensuring that the intent of the Zadroga Act endures, so that all those who need assistance will receive it.
I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund