U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), who led the effort to secure retirement credits for National Guard soldiers who worked at Ground Zero, said the soldiers played a large role in assisting at the World Trade Center site, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She said the passage of the Defense Authorization bill, which includes a provision to provide retirement credit to the guardsmen, is a step in the right direction for compensating Ground Zero workers."With this action, we have righted one of the obvious remaining wrongs left over from 9/11," she said. "The National Guard was integral to the security and rescue effort in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks, and they deserve full retirement credit for their heroic work."U.S. Reps. Maloney, Peter King (R-Long Island) and other members of the New York delegation introduced legislation in the House to award credits to the guardsmen, and Maloney also pushed for inclusion of the provision in the Defense Authorization bill.According to Maloney, several hundred National Guard soldiers who worked at Ground Zero have not received military retirement benefits and many of them were not officially put on federal active duty after the attacks. As a result, many who worked for 300 days or more at the site did not receive retirement credit, she said.Maloney also recently helped secure $125 million in federal money for injured Sept. 11 workers that the Bush administration wanted to rescind, arguing that since the money had not been spent, it was not needed for the city. Maloney said several thousand eligible Ground Zero workers have not yet been examined or given full treatment for their services.A spokesman for congresswoman said Maloney is still working to keep homeland security funds allocated to the city after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the Homeland Security program already existed before the terrorist attacks, but funds were directed to the city after Sept. 11. However, he said the distribution of these funds have not always been adequate."The fifth district of Kentucky got something like $5 million in fire grants while the entire Fire Department in New York got $750,000," he said. "We got something like 20 percent of what one congressional district of Kentucky got. There is a huge inequity there - it is pretty astounding."Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
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