The work of Nesconset resident John Feal has brought attention to the selfless acts of 9/11 responders and their battles with illnesses stemming from working at Ground Zero – something he is personally familiar with.
“I worked for five-and-a-half days before I was horribly injured when 8,000 pounds of steel crushed my left foot. I spent 11 weeks in the hospital with gangrene and I wound up eventually losing half my left foot,” he said.
Following his injury and work at Ground Zero, Feal was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. He said he has not taken any medication for the condition in years and that helping others through his FealGood Foundation, a non-profit organization created to help 9/11 responders, is his therapy.
“As Americans we have extra food, extra money, extra body parts … if everyone got involved in a cause and believed in something like I believe in 9/11 responders then this would be a better place to live,” he said.
Although he was injured at Ground Zero, Feal said he has blocked out his own personal struggles to focus on other responders who need help through his foundation.
“Nobody, no man or woman, no cop, firefighter, construction worker, volunteer, should have to go through this alone, and I’d like to think that we’ve created a safety net and a support system for these men and women to honor them for their heroic actions,” he said.
The work of his foundation has helped get two bills passed into law – the Walsh Amendment to the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill, which helped secure $125 million for aid to injured 9/11 responders, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, a law created to improve health services and provide financial compensation for 9/11 first responders who have suffered illnesses following being exposed to toxins at Ground Zero.
Feal and his foundation are now working on getting another bill passed into law, the Spectrum Act, a bill written by West Virginia State Sen. John Rockefeller designed to enhance wireless communications for public safety workers.