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Widow of Firefighter Calls $76K for a Life 'Appalling'

Widow of Firefighter Calls $76K for a Life 'Appalling'

Jennifer McNamara pins her hopes to new 9/11 bill which will help her support 3-year-old son Jack since husband, John (b.), passed away last year.

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

July 01, 2010

WASHINGTON – The value of firefighter John McNamara’s vanished life is $76,000 under the proposed 9/11 legal settlement. For his widow, that adds up to “appalling.”

Jennifer McNamara instead is pinning her hopes on the 9/11 health and compensation bill that got its first hearing ever in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

It would provide at least several times the compensation offered in the settlement for workers, and help McNamara care for her son, Jack, 3, who knew his father only until the 9/11-linked cancer took him last year.

“That money is not going to change my life,” McNamara said. “It’s not enough to let me stay home with my son. It’s not enough to be able to go to baseball games with him the way his father would have.”

The 9/11 bill, estimated to cost $10.5 billion over 10 years, also offers health care to the growing numbers of people whose health is suffering because of their service or life around Ground Zero. For ex-FDNY Lt. Martin Fullam, who needed a lung transplant last year, health care is vital.

“My life … has not been my own since I’ve gotten sick,” Fullam told the Senate Health Committee, speaking with difficulty and emotion as he explained the 40 pills a day he takes. “I can no longer spend time with my family in the capacity I used to.”

Magrily Garcia, 37, who worked at 90 Broad St. on Sept. 11, 2001, returned to work a week later and soon developed a nasty version of the Trade Center cough. She also suffered scarring on her heart, and needed a pacemaker implanted.

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John McNamara

She argued that officials said at the time the air was safe and urged people to return to normal. And no one wanted the terrorists to win. “We proudly reported for duty,” Garcia said. “We knew it was the right thing to do then, and we humbly ask you to please do the right thing for us.”

The House could pass the bill next month, but the Senate hearing on the version sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is just the first step there. It is questionable whether the upper chamber can act by Sept. 30, when responders must decide whether to accept the legal settlement – cutting themselves off from any potential higher compensation under the bill.

Some 9/11 advocates fear if the bill doesn’t pass this year, it never will. “The annual fight is becoming harder and harder,” said Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

McNamara, who wrote a letter to the committee, said her husband spent his last months trying to help other sick responders, and championed the bill.

“He wouldn’t want me to give up,” she said. “What I’d be giving up is my husband’s pride and dignity. I won’t do that.”


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