A bipartisan group of senators, led by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), introduced legislation to help police, fire, emergency medical and 911 personnel cope with the stresses of responding to crisis situations. The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022 (S.4007) would establish mental health programs for America’s first responders who often face long-term effects from providing life-saving services in moments of crisis. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
“In times of crisis, we count on first responders and dispatchers to deliver life-saving aid – often at their own exposure to tremendous risk. Beyond the physical scars, this essential service can also take a mental and emotional toll. This bill takes an essential step toward ensuring that the brave individuals who respond in critical situations have access to mental health services needed to manage stress, stay healthy and continue to serve our communities,” Grassley said.
“As a co-Chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I know how important it is to give the men and women who have keep us safe the resources they need, especially those who have been scarred by their sacrifices. Developing new programs for law enforcement officers suffering from PTSD will help us have the backs of the brave law enforcement officers who protect us every day,” Coons said.
“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day to ensure the safety and security of Hoosier families. Their work is high-pressure, often resulting in both seen and unseen injuries, and we must provide them with the support they need. This critical legislation would increase the resources available to public safety officers dealing with job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Increasing this support to our public safety officer community will lead to healthier and stronger communities across Indiana and our country,” Young said.
“Law enforcement officers who are working hard to keep our communities safe may face traumatic situations while on the clock, which can lead to PTSD and other mental health challenges. This bipartisan bill will help public safety officers cope with job-related trauma and expand access to mental health resources, and I will keep pushing to move this legislation forward,” Hassan said.
“First responders face incredibly dangerous and stressful situations every day. As a mental health advocate and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I’m proud to introduce this legislation to establish mental health programs tailored to the unique needs of first responders. I urge all of my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill to ensure the men and women who risk their lives to save others are able to get the care they need,” Blunt said.
“The challenges first responders face while keeping us safe don’t end when they take off their uniforms. Their work can be incredibly stressful and they often carry emotional scars home with them. Our bill would provide first responders with the resources necessary to cope with the stresses of their lifesaving jobs, helping them stay healthy so they can continue to serve our communities,” Feinstein said.
“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each day, facing challenging and stressful situations, to protect Ohioans. This legislation will ensure that law enforcement professionals have access to the care they need to deal with the trauma they experience on the job, and keep our communities safer,” Brown said.
Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and 911 dispatchers routinely encounter high-stress situations, putting them at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which increases the risk of suicide. The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act would require the Justice Department to establish evidence-based treatment programs for first responders across the country, similar to services available to military personnel who develop PTSD or acute stress disorders. The bill requires the Justice Department to consult with stakeholders, including public safety officer organizations in developing the program, which would be available to serve first responders in communities of all sizes across the country.
The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD.