IAFC: DOJ Dragging Feet on 'Hometown Heroes' Act Benefits
Politicians, officials from major national fire and police organizations, and others are holding a press conference July 11 in Washington, D.C., to examine why only six families have received any benefits from the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act (P.L. 108-182), which Congress unanimously passed in 2003. The act is designed to give survivors' benefits to the families of fallen public safety officers who suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke in the line of duty or up to 24 hours after a "non-routine stressful or strenuous" line-of-duty activity or training event.
Today, almost four years after the enthusiastic passage of this act, 198 families of fallen public safety officers are still waiting to hear from the Department of Justice about their claims. Forty-eight families have been turned down, and only six families have received any benefits from this program, according to the Fairfax, Va.-based International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).
IAFC President Jim Harmes will be accompanied by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC), three surviving firefighter family members, and other officials for the press conference--scheduled for 12:30 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the U.S. Senate, Dirksen Bldg.--to urge Congress to examine the implementation of the DOJ program.
According to IAFC, public safety groups have held "countless meetings" with DOJ and Bush administration officials, urging that qualifying families be granted their benefits as directed by President Bush and Congress. In addition, a bipartisan group of 101 senators and representatives sent President Bush a letter on June 7 expressing concern over the delays and the deviation from congressional intent.
For more information about the press conference, contact Jennifer Ashley, IAFC director of communications, at 571-221-5268.