JON STEWART SOUNDS OFF

Jon Stewart is best known as the former host of The Daily Show, but tonight, the comedian is teaming up with veteran and 9/11 first responder, John Feal of the FealGood Foundation, to sound off in defense of the thousands of rescue and recovery workers afflicted with illness from their service.

Aired on September 6, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT WE OPEN OUR SERIES ON POST 9/11 VETERANS IN AMERICA, FRONT LINES OF THE HOME FRONT, FOLLOWING THE 9/11 TERRORIST ATTACKS FIRST RESPONDERS FROM ALL OVER THE NATION CAME TO THE AID OF THOSE IN NEED.

AND NOW THOUSANDS OF THEM ARE SUFFERING AND EVEN DYING FROM A RANGE OF ILLNESSES, MORE WILL CERTAINLY BE DIAGNOSED WITH THESE ILLNESSES IN THE COMING YEARS, AND INDEED IN THE COMING DECADES.

BUT EVEN SO, SOME NEW ADMISSIONS ARE BEING CHALLENGED IN SPITE OF STRONG OBJECTIONS.

AMONG THOSE OBJECTING IS ARMY VETERAN 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER JOHN FIELD WHOSE FOOT WAS CRUSHED AT GROUND ZERO.

HE HAS BEEN BATTLING LAWMAKERS WHO OPPOSE THE JAMES DROGA IN 2010 AND ITS RENEWAL IN 2015.

HIS FIGHT IS NOT YET OVER.

HE'S HEADING TO WASHINGTON AGAIN, AND HE HAS STAR POWER BEHIND HIM, COMEDY ICON JON STEWART HAS BEEN SUPPORTING MR.

FIELDS' FIGHT WITH LAWMAKERS FOR YIERS.

JON STEWART JOINS JOHN FIELDS TODAY.

WELCOME TO BOTH OF YOU.

THANK YOU.

LET ME TALK ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

BECAUSE, AS WE KNOW, 2010, THE ACT GETS PASSED, 2015 IT GETS RE-UPPED.

I SUSPECT IF YOU ASK FOLKS ON THE STREET ABOUT THIS, THEY THINK IT'S ALL DONE AND EVERYBODY'S BEING TAKEN CARE OF.

WHY IS THAT NOT THE CASE?

WHAT IS THE REAL STRUGGLE NOW?

IN 2010 WHEN WE GOT THE BILL PASSED THE FIRST TIME, CANCER WASN'T EVEN ADDED TO THE BILL.

RIGHT.

THEY HADN'T YET DONE THE PROOF.

THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT WAS NEVER GIVEN TO THE FIRST RESPONDER COMMUNITY.

YOU HAD TO PROVE, INITIALLY --

26 YEARS OLD WITH NASAL CANCERS, REALLY UNUSUAL CANCERS, REALLY UNUSUAL RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES, STRANGE CLUST TERES OF THAT AGE AND THEY WERE BEING MADE TO PROVE TO THEIR GOVERNMENT, ANYBODY WHO LIVED DOWN THERE COULD TELL YOU WHATEVER AIR WAS BEING BREATHED DOWN THERE WAS NOT SAFE.

IT WAS CLEAR.

IT WAS THE TYPE OF BURN PITS YOU WOULD ONLY SEE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

AND THESE GUYS WERE ON IT FOR MONTHS AT A TIME, 24 HOURS A DAY, NO BREATHING APPARATUS BECAUSE THEY WERE TOLD THAT THE AIR WAS SAFE.

WELL, NOW HERE WE ARE, IT'S NINE YEARS LATER, THEY'VE BEEN WATCHING PEOPLE IN THEIR COMMUNITY GET SICK AND DIE FROM THESE BIZARRE ILLNESSES AND NO ONE WILL LISTEN.

IT'S VERY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE VIETNAM VETERANS FACED WHEN THEY CAME BACK AND IT WAS THE AGENT ORANGE ISSUE.

SO ONCE AGAIN, WHEN THEY WEREN'T RIGHT ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE POSITION TO HELP US THEY WERE IGNORED.

AND IT WAS INFURIATING.

WHAT'S THE OBSTACLE?

POLITICIANS?

POLITICS AND IGNORANCE.

AND UNEDUCATED --

A LACK OF EMPATHY.

AND A LACK OF EMPATHY.

YOU KNOW, AGAIN IN 2010 WHEN WE GOT THE BILL PASSED, WE GOT FIVE YEARS OF HEALTH CARE ON THE CONVERSATION.

WHEN WE GOT IT RENEWED WE GOT 75 YEARS.

EVERYBODY WAS JUMPING UP AND DOWN, 75 YEARS OF HEALTH CARE FREE.

THE COMPENSATION EXPIRES IN 2020.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO WAIT UNTIL 2020.

WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF MONEY AND TIME.

THERE'S A DEADLINE FOR THOSE WHO ARE SICK.

SO WE IMPLORE EVERYBODY TO GET INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER HEALTH PROGRAM AND FILE A VICTIM'S COMPENSATION PLAN.

GOT FORBID YOU GET SICK AND THEY CLOSE THESE PROGRAMS.

THOSE ALREADY IN THE PROGRAM WILL BE GRANDFATHERED IN.

FOLKS NEED TO KNOW THAT, GET THEMSELVES INTO THE SYSTEM.

WE HAVE 10,000 PEOPLE WITH CERTIFIED 9/11, THESE NUMBERS ARE GROWING, CLOSE TO 100,000 PEOPLE, MORE THAN 40% OF THEM ARE BEING TREATED FOR MORE THAN ONE ILLNESS.

THIS IS NOT A NEW YORK ISSUE, THIS IS A NATIONAL ISSUE, AND THIS IS A LIFELONG GENERATIONAL EPIDEMIC UNTIL THE VERY LAST PERSON DIES FROM A 9/11 ILLNESS.

HOW DOES THIS GET DONE?

YOU LOOK TO HOW LONG IT TOOK TO GET THIS ACT PASSED, 2010 FINALLY GETS THROUGH, RE-UPPED 2015.

BUT IT WAS A BATTLE.

AS YOU SAID, YOU'RE WORKING THE HALLS.

IT WAS DIFFERENT.

IN 2010, JOHN AND FEELGOOD AND OTHER GROUPS WERE DOWN IN THE HALLS JUST TRYING TO CONVINCE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP AND, YOU KNOW, CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS THAT THIS WAS A REAL ISSUE, THAT THIS WAS A REAL PROBLEM.

THE SCIENCE OF IT HAD NOT YET -- THANK GOD FOR THE FDNY BECAUSE THEY HAD HEALTH RECORDS.

WITH THAT BASELINE YOU COULD MAKE THE PROOF.

IN 2010 THEY WERE JUST FIGHTING TO PROVE THAT THERE WAS A CONNECTION, AND THAT THEY WEREN'T CRAZY, BEING GAS LIT BY THAT.

THEY FINALLY GET THAT DONE.

IN 2015 THEY HAD TO PROVE THAT IT WASN'T JUST A NEW YORK ISSUE OR THAT IT WAS JUST OVER NOW AND EVERYTHING WAS FINE.

IT WAS ALSO A LITMUS TEST THEY GAVE US IN 2010.

THAT'S RIGHT.

TO PROVE THAT THE PROGRAM WORKED, GAVE US FIVE YEARS TO PROVE THAT THERE WAS NO ABUSE OF FRAUD.

THAT'S BEEN PROVED.

WE PROVED THEM WRONG.

THERE'S NO FRAUD.

THE WORLD TRADE CENTER HEALTH PROGRAM IS NOT SPENDING MONEY FRIVOLOUSLY.

LISTEN, WE'RE GOING TO GET THIS BILL PASSED.

DO WE -- LOOK, THE ENVIRONMENT HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY IN THE LAST COUPLE YEARS.

IT WAS HARD IN 2010 TO GET IT DONE.

IT WAS HARD IN 2015.

IN 2015 IT WAS MORE POLITICAL FOOTBALL.

KEPT MOVING THE GOAL LINE.

YEAH, AND THEN THEY WERE USING IT FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES SO THAT THEY WOULD SAY THE MONEY WOULD BE THERE BUT IT'S -- THEY COULD TAKE IT FROM THE TRANSPORTATION BILL.

WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?

THEY WOULD SAY, OKAY, IF WE'RE GOING TO GIVE YOU THE HEALTH CARE AND THE COMPENSATION, YOU HAVE TO GIVE US A CHANGE IN IMPORT/EXPORT TAXES.

RIGHT.

THEY'RE LOOKING AT THAT SAYING WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO -- IT'S CONGRESS IS THE PROBLEM.

I KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING WITH YOUR QUESTION.

THE ANSWER IS WE DON'T CARE WHO CONTROLS THE WHITE HOUSE, THE SENATE OR THE CONGRESS, WE'RE GOING THERE TO GET A BILL PASSED FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.

ARE YOU WORRIED, I'M SURE YOU ARE, BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT WHY.

IT'S A DIFFERENT CLIMATE.

I'M TALKING ABOUT BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

TIME AN INDEPENDENT.

I'M LOOKING AT IT FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

THE NOTION OF COMPROMISE IS OBSOLETE NOWADAYS.

AND IT'S PROBABLY THE APT METAPHOR TO USE, WE HAVE A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT DOWN THERE TOO.

SO ARE YOU CONFIDENT THAT YOU CAN GET BOTH SIDES TOGETHER AND SAY, ALL RIGHT, LET'S -- WE'LL WALK AWAY FROM OUR TOXIC ENVIRONMENT, LET'S DEAL WITH THE TOXIC ENVIRONMENT AND THE CONSEQUENCES FROM 9/11.

9/11 WAS UNPRECEDENTED, CHALLENGED HUMANITY, DIDN'T CARE IF YOU WERE BLACK, WHITE, JEWISH, REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT.

AFTER 1,100 MEETINGS, WE HAVE THIS DOWN TO A SCIENCE, WHOEVER GETS IN OUR WAY AND VOTES AGAINST US, SO BE IT, BUT IF THEY'RE GOING TO OBSTRUCT US, AND DO STUFF THAT WE DON'T FIND SUITABLE FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THEIR LIVES MISERABLE.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER WE YIELD.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE BEHIND US.

WE HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCE.

WE PUT 400,000 SIGNATURES TOGETHER ON 2015.

WE HAVE 400,000 MORE AFTER THAT NOW.

I'LL BRING A MILLION PEOPLE ON PETITION TO D.C. WITH MY HARD CORE ASS-KICKING MEMBERS OF FIRST RESPONDERS, AND I'LL BET MY ONE KIDNEY THAT WE GET THIS BILL RENEWED.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, JOHN, SIMILAR TO WHAT I ASKED JOHN.

IT'S A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT, TIME HAS PASSED.

HAVE PEOPLE LOST THE SENSE OF EMPATHY FOR THE PEOPLE THAT WE NEED TO STEP UP AND DO THINGS FOR?

DO YOU THINK THERE'S A POLITICAL WILL DOWN THERE?

THERE'S CERTAINLY THE WILL HERE.

BUT WE NEED THE POLITICAL WILL COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON TO GET THIS DONE.

DO YOU THINK IT'S THERE?

I THINK POLITICAL WILL IS LESS THE ISSUE NOW.

BECAUSE IT WAS -- WHEN THEY FIRST HAD TO GET THIS DONE, THE ENTIRE PROGRAM HAD TO BE FORMATTED.

THE LEGISLATION HAD TO BE WRITTEN.

THE CONDITIONS THAT WOULD BE ASSOCIATED WITH 9/11 HAD TO BE IDENTIFIED AND HAD TO BE PROVEN.

ALL OF THOSE THINGS, THEN THE PROGRAM HAD TO COME THROUGH, WHETHER IT WAS THE ZADROGA HEALTH CARE PROVISIONS OR THE VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FUND.

THE BUREAUCRACIES HAD TO BE ESTABLISHED AND STREAMLINED TO CREATE AN EFFICIENT PROGRAM SO THAT VICTIMS COULD FIND THEIR WAY THROUGH THE SYSTEM AND GET THEMSELVES INTO THE PROGRAM AND THEN SERVICED BY THE PROGRAM.

SO ALL THAT HAS BEEN DONE.

THE INFRASTRUCTURE IS LAID.

THIS IS NOT A COMPROMISE SITUATION ANYMORE.

IT'S JUST A QUESTION OF WHAT DO YOU VALUE?

DO YOU VALUE THE LIVES WHEN WE'RE IN TROUBLE AND WE CALL UPON FIRST RESPONDERS AND WE CALL UPON VETERANS AND WE CALL UPON VOLUNTEERS AND WE CALL UPON THE TRADE UNITS, WE EXPECT THAT THEY'LL BE THERE BECAUSE THAT'S -- WE UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S A CERTAIN MIND-SET THAT SOME INDIVIDUALS HAVE THAT WHEN SOMETHING GOES DOWN THEY DON'T RUN AWAY FROM IT, THEY RUN TOWARDS IT AND WE COUNT ON THAT AS A SOCIETY TO SUSTAIN OUR SENSE OF SECURITY AND BALANCE.

BUT IN TURN, WE OWE THEM, NOT JUST WHEN WE NEED THEM, BUT WHEN THEY NEED US.

AND IF WE CONTINUE TO TREAT FIRST RESPONDER COMMUNITIES AND VETERAN COMMUNITIES IN THE MANNER THAT WE DO, WHICH IS WE WRAP OURSELVES IN THE FLAG AND WE MAKE ALL KINDS OF SYMBOLIC GESTURES TOWARDS PATRIOTISM AND WE SAY ALL THE RIGHT THINGS AND STAND WHEN WE'RE SUPPOSED TO AND SALUTE WHEN WE'RE SUPPOSED TO, BUT THE TRUTH IS REAL PATRIOTISM, REAL LOVE OF COUNTRY, REAL COMPASSION COMES FROM THE ACTIONS THAT YOU TAKE WHEN THOSE INDIVIDUALS THEN NEED US.

YOU CANNOT DISCARD THEM IN THIS WAY.

AND YOU CAN'T SAY WE HAVE $1.5 TRILLION FOR TAX CUTS, WE HAVE $15 BILLION FOR THIS AND SAY THAT WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE SUFFERING BECAUSE OF THEIR HEROISM, AND THEIR DEDICATION TO SERVICE AND TO COMMUNITY.

AND THERE'S NOTHING MORE INFURIATING THAN GOING INTO A POLITICIAN'S OFFICE WHO'S BEEN TWEETING OUT, NEVER FORGET THE HEROES OF 9/11 AND WON'T LOOK THESE GUYS IN THE EYE.

IT HAPPENS WAY MORE THAN YOU'D IMAGINE.

THIS IS WHAT SUSTAINS MY INVOLVEMENT AND CONTINUES TO GIVE ME THE GREATEST ADMIRATION FOR IT.

JOHN IS SELLING HIMSELF FOR HUMBLY AND SHORT.

HE MADE THIS HIS LIFE'S WORK.

IF HE HADN'T, IT WOULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN DONE.

AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT GETTING GUYS LIKE RAY PFEIFFER WHO HAS HAD STAGE 4 CANCER, CANCER ATE AWAY HIS LEG WHERE HE HAD A STEEL ROD AND THE CANCER ATE AWAY THE STEEL ROD AND HE'S SPENDING HIS LAST WEEKS ON EARTH GOING DOOR TO DOOR IN CONGRESS AND HELP OUT HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND YOU CAN'T WITNESS THAT AND NOT THINK I HAVE TO GIVE WHAT I CAN GIVE.

LET'S CLOSE WITH A FAVORITE CHURCHILL QUOTATIONS, HE STOOD UP AND SAID NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP.

I THINK HE WOULD BE PROUD OF YOU GUYS.

HE SAID THE SAME THING.

NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP.

I'M A STRONG ABE LINCOLN --

ANY NATION THAT DOESN'T HONOR ITS HEROES --

EXACTLY.

HE'S MAKING YOU MARIANO -- GENTLEMEN, AGAIN, A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU.

THANKS.

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