NYPD officers who died of 9/11-related illnesses in recent years added to memorial

As the commissioner asks Congress to replenish the Victims Compensation Fund.

Nearly 18 years after 23 New York Police Department officers died in the collapse of the World Trade Center, 9/11 remains the single biggest killer of officers in the nation's largest police force.

Last year, 15 officers died of cancer and other illnesses contracted during their service on or immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.

On Friday, their names -- and the names of 32 other officers who died in recent years from 9/11-related illnesses -- were added to a memorial at police headquarters.

In an opinion piece published exclusively by ABC News, New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill urges Congress to replenish the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund "for as long as it takes and as much as it costs" to help first responders and their families.

The fund is straining under the unexpectedly high number of claims and is scheduled to shut down in 2020. Without an infusion of money, the fund's special master said many claims would be reduced or denied.

It's a circumstance O'Neill founds unacceptable.

"We cannot desert the remaining claimants," he wrote in the opinion piece.

The Victim Compensation Fund found 23,390 claimants eligible for compensation as of April 30, 2019, and made initial award determinations on 22,204 of those claims, with revised awards on 5,877 on them due to amendments or appeals.

A total of $5,137,416,674.86 has been awarded as of April 30, 2019, according to the VCF.