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Money issues plague fund helping 9/11 responders with health problems

February 25, 2019 06:28 PM

The importance of the 9/11 Victims' Fund is personal for a now-retired New York State trooper from Queensbury. He would still be on the job except for the lung disease he suffers from his time at ground zero.

While he is concerned about his family, he's going public to help all those suffering from their exposure to the toxins in the air following the attack. It's air the Environmental Protection Agency erroneously told the public was safe to breathe.

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Kevin Bouyea's life used to include running and biking with his family -- always active. It complimented his job as an investigator for the New York State Police. He's the fifth person in his family to proudly wear the gray uniform.

"Helping the community, I believe, is the most important to me," he explained.

However, he was abruptly sidelined in 2015 after 21 years on the job.

"In 2015, I noticed my breathing was starting to become labored. So, I'm part of the World Trade Center medical monitoring program, thankfully -- and some testing resulted in some black spots on my lung," he said.

Bouyea's assignment at ground zero following the attacks on 9/11 is to blame.

That first night, he had no protective gear. The dust from the collapsed buildings blanketed his patrol car and his uniform.

He would spend many more days breathing in the toxin-filled air left behind by the attack.   

"They removed a piece of my lung, some lymph nodes and nodules that were concerning," he said.

The diagnosis was interstitial sarcoidosis disease. Doctors said they found concrete sediment embedded in his lung, matching concrete from the collapsed building 2.

"My lung capacity went from an active 45-year-old non-smoker to a 70-year old smoker," he said.

So Bouyea was forced to retire a year ago -- at least a decade before he would have left the job that was more calling than career.

Nowadays, it's not incident reports he files, but a binder of health test reports and insurance papers.

He's got a new worry. The Victim Compensation Fund, sorely underfunded, could be so strapped next year - compensation Bouyea and thousands of others were promised would be cut 50 percent and 70 percent for future claims.

This comes as thousands more 9/11 responders and survivors are expected to be diagnosed with 9/11 cancers and other illnesses.   

So even though he's out of uniform, helping others is still a priority for Bouyea -- compelled to speak out to save the fund.

"It's a national issue. Every state in this country has a survivor or a victim that has applied for this compensation, for this medical treatment to assist their families," he said.


MORE INFORMATION: September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

Credits

Benita Zahn

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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