9/11 firefighter with PTSD who died in mental hospital denied aid
The family of Joe Battista, who died after choking at an institution, called FDNY’s refusal to grant him 9/11-related disability an “outrage”
By FireRescue1 Staff
NEW YORK — An FDNY 9/11 firefighter who suffered from PTSD due to his time spent at Ground Zero but was denied aid by the fire department died April 6.
New York Daily News reported that Joe Battista, 63, died after choking on some food while being treated at a Florida institution for depression and PTSD his family said he suffered due to his time at Ground Zero.
Battista’s family said FDNY’s refusal to grant him 9/11-related disability aid is an “outrage.”
“We’ve been fighting with them for years,” Battista’s cousin, Joe Ciacco, said. “The Fire Department has fought us tooth and nail.”
Battista spent three-and-a-half months at Ground Zero before being transferred to Fresh Kills landfill, where he sorted human remains out of debris on a conveyer belt.
The 25-year veteran firefighter retired in 2007 and moved to Florida, where he was involuntarily hospitalized in 2012 and 2013 after becoming estranged from his wife and children and having suicidal thoughts.
FDNY’s medical board found that Battista suffered from early-onset dementia.
However, doctors linked his condition to his experience at Ground Zero multiple times, according to a lawsuit filed by Battista’s attorney requesting that the department’s refusal be overturned.
“[They] are directly related to Mr. Battista’s services as a NYC firefighter during the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center,” Dr. Hector Corzo wrote in a finding.
The department also declined to give Battista 9/11 honors at his funeral because his death was “not a covered WTC cause of death,” according to a letter the FDNY sent to Battista’s family.
“The FDNY [is] playing games and won’t take responsibility right up to today,” Ciacco said.