Inside the FBI: FBI Continues to Encourage 9/11 Responders to Register for Health Benefits
September 11, 2019
As the FBI commemorates the nearly 3,000 people who were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bureau also reiterates its calls to those who responded to register for federal programs that provide health and financial benefits.
Mollie Halpern: As the FBI commemorates the nearly 3,000 people who were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bureau also reiterates its calls to those who responded to register for federal programs that provide health and financial benefits.
The attack and its aftermath continue to linger 18 years later as a growing number of first responders, volunteers, and those who worked and lived in the disaster areas become sick and/or die from 9/11-related illnesses.
Members of the FBI family—15 special agents and one professional staff employee—have died, and many others are sick as a direct result of exposure to toxins while working at the attack sites.
FBI Director Christopher Wray…
Director Christopher Wray: 9/11 changed everything for the FBI and for the families who lost their loved ones that day. And we’re only now beginning to understand the long-term effects of our FBI brothers’ and sisters’ difficult and dangerous work in the weeks and months following those attacks. And we’re only now beginning to understand the full extent of the sacrifices they made.
Halpern: The World Trade Center Health Program, or WTCHP, is a federal benefit program that provides free medical screenings, monitoring, and treatment to responders and survivors with certified 9/11-related illnesses. The WTCHP is authorized to provide these benefits through fiscal year 2090.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, which administers the program, as of July 31, 98,330 total individuals have enrolled.
And 14,559 individuals have been certified for at least one 9/11-related cancer.
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, called VCF, provides compensation to individuals for certain injuries and conditions related to the 9/11 attacks or to their beneficiaries if they are deceased. The VCF Permanent Authorization Act, signed into law earlier this summer, devotes funds to all approved claims. It also extends the deadline to file a claim to October 1, 2090.
Pleas to register for these federal benefit programs come also from those most touched by 9/11—the families and friends of those who responded when the nation needed them most.
Denise LeValley: Now we belong to this club no one ever wants to belong to, and that’s being a widow.
Halpern: That’s Denise LeValley, whose husband of 30 years, David LeValley, died from chronic lymphocytic leukemia in May of 2018.
On 9/11, David was on his way to the FBI’s command post near the World Trade Center when the south tower collapsed—engulfing him in a carcinogenic cloud of dust, debris, and smoke.
In the days and weeks following the attack, David participated in the investigative, rescue, and recovery operations at Ground Zero.
He was also a part of the “bucket brigade,” which involved removing debris from the pile by hand.
When David died at the age of 53, he was serving as the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office.
That office is named in his memory.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony earlier this year, Denise said…
LeValley: It’s truly an honor to see his name up there and to know that his memory will be preserved to inspire others by his heroism.
Halpern: FBI Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate called David a true leader.
Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate: He was quiet and humble. His accomplishments were many and spoke for themselves. He was the first to give credit and the last to take it for himself.
Halpern: David’s name is also on the FBI’s Wall of Honor—which memorializes FBI employees who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Also added to the wall this year was Supervisory Special Agent Brian Crews, who died of lung cancer about a month after David in June of 2018.
Brian worked many high-profile investigations, including the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Unabomber, and Enron.
On 9/11, Brian volunteered to support the investigative efforts and worked up to 12-hour shifts combing through evidence and debris from the World Trade Center at the Fresh Kills landfill.
His wife, Robin…
Robin Crews: If Brian had it all to do all over again and he found out that he was going to have cancer by going to 9/11, he would do it all over again many, many times over, because he wanted to help people. That was his mission in life. His veins ran with FBI blood.
Halpern: At the most recent Wall of Honor ceremony, Director Wray paid tribute to all FBI employees who lost their lives—including those with 9/11-related illnesses.
Director Wray: I had the opportunity to talk with two of these agents very shortly before they died, both Brian Crews and Dave LeValley. And what really struck me in both instances was how utterly selfless they were. Even in their final moments, they were still thinking of everybody else and trying to comfort others.
Halpern: The Director continued to say…
Director Wray: They each represent the kind of extraordinary people we have in this organization—people who answer the call of duty, no matter the cost. People who always think of others before themselves.
Halpern: And it’s those qualities that moved David and Brian to urge others to register for the federal benefit programs.
Denise and Robin are spreading that message on behalf of their husbands.
Crews: So, it was very important to him before he passed that he wanted to get the word out to other agents to have a physical every year.
Halpern: For additional podcasts, videos, information on the federal benefit programs, and more about 9/11 and its lasting effects, visit fbi.gov. With Inside the FBI, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.
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