The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
and How It Applies to Former and Current U.S. Secret Service Personnel
By Nancy Jennis Olds
Members of the United States Secret Service undergo rigorous training and demanding work conditions to protect and serve, investigate crimes and much more, all without much regard for their own personal safety. Courage and extraordinary skill are essential in the face of ever-present risks, but what does one do when the assailant is almost invisible? This is where the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) steps in to protect our active and former U.S. Secret Service employees who were caught up in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the perilous toxic environmental conditions that occurred shortly afterward.
Last December, during the U.S. Secret Service Association (USSSA) online holiday gathering, I discovered that the VCF for victims and their families is available for our members if they qualify due to illness. Former Supervisory Special Agent Jan Gilhooly advised anyone involved with 9/11 to register with the VCF, including USSS personnel who were assigned to cover events in New York City prior to the United Nations General Assembly, those who were assigned to the New York Field Office at the World Trade Center and those who were sent to NYC between 9/11 and May 30, 2002. All were likely exposed to various toxins when the Twin Towers and the surrounding smaller buildings collapsed.
The VCF also covers anyone from the USSS who was stationed at the Pentagon during 9/11 and up to May 30, 2002, or assigned to Shanksville, Pennsylvania during that time period.
The original September 11th Victim Compensation Fund operated from 2001 to 2004 to offer compensation for the injured and for the families who lost someone because of the terrorist attacks. One of our own, Special Officer Craig Miller, lost his life on 9/11 while trying to provide medical help.
The Zagroda Act, named in honor of NYPD Officer James Zagroda who passed away on January 5, 2006, from a respiratory illness he had contracted at Ground Zero, reopened the VCF in 2011 and extended application deadlines, offered limited funding and provided expanded eligibility. In 2015, the Zagroda Act was re-extended and set to expire on December 18, 2020; however, actor and comedian Jon Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 first responders, appeared before Congress on June 11, 2019 and eloquently reminded the legislators to hold firm their promise to support these heroes, many of whom have since suffered health issues arising from their exposure to 9/11-induced toxins and pollutants.
Here are the steps to register with the VCF and file a claim, if needed:
Register at www.vcf.gov for your personal account. You will need supporting documents including a Witness Presence Statement form for any witnesses who will provide an affidavit in support of your claim. You will need at least two witnesses. You can provide additional proof that you were there with forms such as your USSS Travel Voucher. Additional worksheets and forms are available on the VCF website.
Once you plan to make a claim, you must be certified by the WTC Health Program for an eligible physical health condition. Unfortunately, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) does not qualify as a claim for benefits.
File your claim and supporting documents by October 1, 2090.
Please retain the original copies of your supporting documents! You can upload these scanned forms or you can mail copies of your information after you are officially registered with the VCF. Please check that all of your submissions appear online.
VCF Helpline: 1-855-885-1555
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
P.O. Box 34500, Washington, D.C. 20043