RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the nation marks 22 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives, dozens of first responders now living in the Triangle are reflecting on how their lives were changed from that day and how a local organization is helping them navigate life after service.
The group helps retirees with everything from relocation to 9/11-related illnesses.
"10-13 was a call signal for the NYPD that means an officer needs assistance," said Robert Young, President of the Raleigh 10-13 Chapter. "10-13 clubs were set up to assist retired and active duty officers with needs. The big thing that we deal with is health care so that they don't have any problems with their medical care.
"It's also a place where guys can talk to each other and you know, since 9/11, we have a lot of people that have come down with 9/11 illnesses," he added. "In this club alone, I've got 165 current members and I probably have 30 that have had cancer-related to 9/11 or, you know, another disease whether it be breathing or asthma or different skin ailments that come from 9/11-related illnesses."
Lobbying for healthcare is a big part of NYCPD 10-13's national chapter not only for active and retired officers but also for surviving spouses, such as Lorraine Meehan
"My husband and I had moved here in 2010 after he retired from federal law enforcement," Meehan said. "But, unfortunately, when COVID hit, he passed away from exposure to the World Trade Center. He had six or seven of the respiratory diseases and there was no hope."
Meehan also worked in Two World Trade Center and is now part of the federal WTC Health Program providing monitoring and treatment for those directly affected by the September 11 attacks in New York, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"You register now. Hopefully, you'll never develop symptoms, but if you do, then you're already registered. I fortunately don't have symptoms," Meehan said.
WATCH: Retired NYPD officers in Raleigh reflect on life after 9/11
Cancer is a common concern.
"You'll get an email or a newsletter specifically targeting a certain type of cancer that's come out," said retired NYPD officer Robert Hill. "Right now, it is a skin cancer and skin cancer on your feet because everybody was trudging around that toxic sludge and they were watering it down. So, everybody's feet were soaked and this toxic mud.".
Erik Ober retired from the NYPD in 2021 and moved to Cary this summer.
"I have cancer of the bladder and the prostate," Ober said. "I had both organs removed and I'm now cancer-free. I also suffer from dystonia, which is where my toes curl up and I have Parkinson's, which is not, notarized as part of a 9/11 illness yet, but it doesn't run in the family. Nobody else has it in my family. So I know it came from down there. I'm only 50 years old."
While dealing with their medical issues, the group is thankful for the support of the Raleigh 10-13 to help navigate life in a new city during retirement with a bond only they can understand.
"It's nice to know you're still cared for," Ober said. "You know, people are here to help you, and someday, you know, I'll be the old guy down here and there'll be some new kids that just, you know, retire and come down here and I'll be able to help them hopefully down the road."
The Raleigh chapter of NYCPD 10-13 also supports local law enforcement officers and other police associations in need in the Triangle.
WATCH: People now living in NC talk about living in New York during 9/11