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August Flentje appointed as the interim head of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

Tribute in Light, two vertical columns of light representing the fallen towers of the World Trade Center shine against the lower Manhattan skyline on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Stefan Jeremiah
Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice has named August Flentje as the interim special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the federal program that helps survivors of the terror attacks.

Flentje is a career civil service attorney who’s worked with the Department of Justice since 1998, and has worked with the Victim Compensation Fund in the past. He said in a statement that claims and payments will continue to be processed smoothly during the transition.

The previous special master, Rupa Bhattacharyya, announced plans to step down last month after almost six years on the job. During her tenure, the fund processed about 40,000 claims and paid out $8 billion.

“I’ve worked with Rupa to help address issues that arise in the management of the VCF and am familiar with its functions and operation,” Flentje said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the VCF again.”

Bhattacharyya garnered praise from the 9/11 survivor community for her efforts to speed up the claims process.

Michael Barasch of Barasch & McGarry, a law firm that has helped tens of thousands of victims file claims with the fund, congratulated Flentje.

“He will have big shoes to fill succeeding Rupa Bhattacharyya, whose enormous compassion for 9/11 first responders, survivors and their families resulted in wonderful improvements to the program,” Barasch said in a statement. “I am sure, based on Augie Flentje’s distinguished record of service with the Department of Justice, that he will build on her legacy.”

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.