Veterans who worked as 9/11 first responders can’t access WTC health program due to technicality

Due to a technicality, many military personnel who responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 cannot receive health care or benefits through the World Trade Center Health Program.

Michael McAuliff of the New York Daily News spoke with Nate Coward, a veteran who spent weeks at the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attacks with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment. He now suffers from a number of diseases covered by the WTC health program, but cannot access care.

When the legislation was written, Congress neglected to mention military as eligible for the program. This omission affects most people who served at the Pentagon during the recovery. It is important as the World Trade Center Health Program’s doctors are experts in issues concerning which toxins recovery workers were exposed to and which diseases to screen for — something doctors without specialized knowledge do not understand.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped carry the injured from the Pentagon on 9/11. He died of multiple myeloma, a WTC covered condition, but was ineligible for care under the program.

Congress must rectify this.


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