On September 11, 2019, some of New York’s greatest heroes were honored as Gov. Cuomo signed legislation to aid first responders who developed a qualifying health condition due to harmful exposure after those dreadful attacks 18 years earlier. This legislation reminds all New Yorkers that while the effects of this horrific day continue to live physically and emotionally within first responders, New York City will continue to connect them to health benefits.

First responders who helped in providing service on September 11 suffered drastic health impairments. There have been growing concerns over the health effects arising out of the numerous reported respiratory illnesses, such as cancer, as well as a myriad of psychological and emotional injuries. Gov. Cuomo’s legislation is meant to extend the authorization for first responders who continue to deal with illnesses related to the attack.

Gov. Cuomo signed six bills in total honoring first responders and their dedication to public service. They cover:

  1. Allowing for employees who work for New York State to obtain sick leave for qualifying 9/11 conditions
  2. Allowing for more doctors to evaluate members of the New York City Employee Retirement System applying for disability pension.
  3. Extending the application for receiving an accidental death benefit after the death of a loved one from one year to five years.
  4. Extending a program which allows for a final salary disability retirement benefit and three-quarters disability pension to include members of the Teacher’s Retirement System and the state and local employees retirement system.
  5. Providing members of the New York City fire department with certain ailments, such as cancer, to receive disability benefits.
  6. Allowing for a brief moment of silence in all state public school at the beginning of the school day every September 11.

In 2010, Congress passed the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, signed by President Barack Obama, which establishes the World Trade Center Health Program within the Department of Health and Human Services. Controlled by the Center for Disease Control, the World Trade Center Health Program is providing guidelines on how health care providers can treat patients with any illness arising out of exposure to the disaster. This program monitors and treats first responders and survivors in New York City and refers all who qualify to the World Trade Center Health Program.

Ultimately, these bills reflect our continued support of 9/11 first responders. They are a reminder that the lasting and devastating aftermath of 9/11 continues to linger amongst all of us, but also a symbol of true, American patriotism that will continue to be honored.