The Continued Fight to Support Our Heroes 9-11 Attacks Still Taking a Toll on First Responders 

By Thomas O’Connor 

As we move toward the 22nd anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, it is important to keep the memories of the 2,977 who died on 9/11 at all three sites, New York City, Shanksville, PA and at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. As a nation we must continue to support their families left behind. 

On 9/11 as Agents scrambled to assist at the World Trade Center attack, Special Agent (SA) Lenny Hatton rushed into the towers to save lives, when the towers came down, Lenny was killed alongside hundreds of other First responders. 

It is equally important that we recognize, provide care for, and support those who have been diagnosed with illnesses related to 9/11 exposure. The Center for Disease Control, World Trade Center Health Program ( ) and the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund ( have estimated deaths from 9/11 illness have surpassed those lost on September 11, 2001. The numbers are likely much higher than recorded as many First Responders and Survivors have yet to register for these important programs. 

On September 11, 2001 my wife Jean and I were FBI Agents assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Washington Field Office and were members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team (ERT). 

While ERT members in Washington activated to assist in New York, we were notified of “Smoke coming from the Pentagon”. SA Scott Stanley and I deployed to the Pentagon. We arrived on scene approximately 15 minutes after flight 77 slammed into the South wall of the Pentagon. As Agents worked with fellow First Responders in NYC and at the Pentagon, American Airlines flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA. FBI Agents and First Responders deployed and began recovery operations. 

FBI ERTs worked with our partner First Responder agencies in recovering the victims at all three attack sites. Painstakingly documenting these scenes and collecting evidence of the terrorist attacks. 

Over 4000 FBI Agents and Professional Staff, responded to and / or worked within the geographical areas of the 9/11 attack sites. In 2007 we began to see friends diagnosed with illnesses inconsistent with their age and medical history. In New York, illnesses were being reported by members of the FDNY and the NYPD. In 2010 Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This established the WTCHP, a first step in assisting 9/11 NY

First Responders, but it originally did not cover those who responded to the Pentagon or Shanksville. Both were later added to the World Trade Center Health Program. 

Today, 16 FBI Agents and 2 Professional Staff are listed on the FBI Wall of Honor having passed due to illnesses contracted from exposure during the 9/11 response. The FBI Agents Association ( has provided over $1,000,000 in college scholarships to children of 9/11 fallen Agents through the FBIAA Memorial College Fund. Additional support has been provided to those suffering from 9/11 illnesses through the FBIAA Membership Assistance Fund. 

Over 100 FBI employees have some form of 9/11 related illness, including asthma, cancers and PTSD. If you are a responder, make sure YOU register for both the WTCHP and the VCF. If you need assistance, I can recommend Attorney Matthew McCauley. Matt is an NYPD First Responder, his team has assisted countless responders including members of the FBIAA. ( To assist with FBIAA charities you can go to

This Article originally appeared in Mental Health Talk Magazine, Vol 2, Pg 60-61 and has been posted on this site with permission from Dr. Leslie Rogers.

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