9/11 Workers, First Responders To Rally For Help in D.C.

NY Daily News - November 16, 2009

by Michael Mcauliff

WASHINGTON - First responders and Ground Zero workers are pleased Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is headed to New York to face justice - but they hope to win a different kind of justice of their own.

"Eight years later they finally bring the terrorists to New York and eight years later we're still waiting for help" treating 9/11-related illnesses, said John Feal.

"It doesn't equate," added Feal, who heads the FealGood Foundation, devoted to raising awareness about the health crisis. He will join busloads of survivors and victims for a rally Wednesday in Washington.

They're demanding Congress act on legislation named after James Zadroga, an NYPD officer who died from his exposure to Ground Zero.

The proposal would spend about $8 billion to reopen the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation fund to care for the illnesses suffered by the responding heroes.

"I'm going to be focused on getting that bill passed," said Glen Klein, a former NYPD Emergency Service Unit officer who spent 700 hours at Ground Zero. "It's time."

Advocates say they've received assurances that Congress would act this fall. But sources told the Daily News that the battle to overhaul the nation's health care system comes first - a fight that could extend into next year.

Feal said rallygoers intend to take their message straight to lawmakers.

"We're taking three teams into each congressional [office] building," he said. "I'm storming the Capitol."

Feal has sent letters to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pushing for meetings. But he's yet to get a response.