$75M FUND TO TREAT 9/11 COPS & FIREMEN

By GEOFF EARLE Post Correspondent

March 9, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - Brave cops and firefighters who are still suffering from the health effects of working at Ground Zero after 9/11 can get treatment thanks to $75 million in new federal money announced yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doling out the money for FDNY treatment programs, mental-health services for cops, and a registry to track first responders' health symptoms long into the future.

"It really was a surprise, and we're really, really happy, because the services have been well-utilized," said Pam Delaney, president of the New York City Police Foundation.

"We knew from our experience that seeking services of this kind can present obstacles to police officers," added Delaney. Her group got $3 million for its Project COPE, which provides confidential mental-health services for 9/11 cops.

New York's congressional delegation made a bipartisan push to get the funds after President Bush sought to rescind $125 million in unspent funds in his budget last year.

The money was part of $20 billion in aid that Bush pledged for New York City after 9/11.

Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer pushed to get the money restored in the Senate, while Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) helped persuade Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to back funding in the House. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) also worked for funding.

"It's always important to remember this money was thought to be lost this time last year. We're looking at found money," said Fossella. "They're [cops are] very fearful that their employer will find out that they're getting this [psychological] help. In my view, physical and mental illness really go hand in hand."

Mayor Bloomberg said, "I am proud of New York's congressional delegation and the city's long and successful campaign for this funding.

Clinton said, "Restoring this funding was one of the most important things we could do for those who sacrificed everything to help others on September 11th, 2001."

Congress made the money available as part of a bill responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita late last year.

Another $50 million will go for workers'-compensation payments.

The feds are giving $27 million each to programs that monitor treatment for police and firefighters.

A program to provide peer assistance to police received a $1.5 million grant, and a program to register and track the health of responders got $9 million.

One of the biggest grants goes to a consortium of hospitals that includes Mount Sinai and SUNY Stony Brook, to monitor ongoing care. For the first time, the FDNY will both treat and screen health problems of firefighters who were on the scene.


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