Source: HuffPost New York
Everyone knows I’m with Hillary. And while there are many reasons why I support her candidacy, her role as a leader in the fight to address the 9/11 health crisis is one example of why I believe she will do great things for our country as President.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the federal government refused to recognize the health crisis facing the thousands of first responders and local residents who survived the attacks. The officials in charge at the time either did not understand or were not willing to admit that exposure to the toxic stew of chemicals at Ground Zero would pose serious long-term health consequences for thousands of men and women who were there.
Having worked on this issue from day one, I can say from first-hand experience that Senator Hillary Clinton was not just an ally, but was a leader in the fight to address the 9/11 health crisis.
Most people today look at the facts and don’t understand why it was such a struggle to take care of our sick and injured 9/11 first responders and survivors. They are unaware of how the Bush administration refused to admit there was a problem and resisted all efforts to allow for a full and honest accounting of the risks. Working with the New York congressional delegation, Senator Clinton was instrumental in delivering the first federal funds, $12 million, to start medical screening of people who worked at Ground Zero.
She continued working to secure even more funding for medical monitoring. Were it not for these resources, we may never have had the evidence needed to show the direct connection between exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the attacks and a range of health problems.
But Hillary didn’t stop there. When the Bush administration continued to deny there was a problem, even in the face of evidence, Senator Clinton worked with members from both parties to demand an acknowledgment that thousands were sick and they needed medical treatment. We even had to bring 9/11 responders to a State of the Union to remind President Bush that we were not going away.
Ultimately, it took 9 years, a new Congress—and a new president—to pass and sign the original five-year James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010. It funded health care treatment, medical monitoring and compensation for responders and survivors. Hillary’s steadfast leadership and determination early in this process helped lay the foundation for this important achievement.
And when the program started to expire in 2014, Hillary again worked to ensure that thousands of men and women who were counting on Congress to extend the program would not be left behind by helping to raise funds for the eventually successful effort to permanently extend the World Trade Center Health Program and fully fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Her work helped save lives. It wasn’t about making speeches; it was about doing the right thing for the New Yorkers she represented. It’s one of the many reasons that my support for her is steadfast.
She is a change-maker.
As an attorney, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, whenever something needed to happen, Hillary put in the time and effort — and got it done. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do as President of the United States.