Just a few weeks after the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a major deadline will pass for many survivors and first responders.
Oct. 3 is the last day to register for the Victims Compensation Fund, union leaders and elected officials warned this week.
The VCF is part of the Zadroga Act, the federal legislation that took more than a decade of struggle to get passed in Congress. The VCF offers specific health benefits and financial compensation to injured and sick 9/11 survivors and first responders. It is available to those who survived or made rescue efforts at the Pentagon and the Shankesville, Pa., crash site as well as the World Trade Center.
"Our first responders are at all times quick to deploy to calls for help, but struggle with the concept of asking for help for themselves," explained Richard Alles, the deputy chief of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
The major concern is that there may be widespread misunderstanding: Some survivors and first responders may believe that being enrolled in other World Trade Center programs, such as the World Trade Center Health Program, means they are already registered for the Victims Compensation Fund. That is not the case; separate registration for the VCF is necessary.
Officials and outreach organizers urged New Yorkers to help friends and families make the call and register.
"We have come too far to leave anyone behind," said 9/11 first responder John Feal.
People who believe they might be eligible can register here by Oct. 3 in order to file a claim.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat