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PTSD Coverage For First Responders Could Expand Under New Bill

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
First responders who get post-traumatic stress disorder on the job may soon be eligible for more workers compensation benefits.

Democratic State Senator Victor Torres filed a bill Tuesday to allow first responders to get worker’s compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The bill makes PTSD and mental conditions more easily eligible, and it removes the requirement that first responders also be hurt physically.

Jessica Realin’s husband was diagnosed with PTSD after cleaning up the Pulse Night Club tragedy.

“I’m not naïve to not think we wont have some kind of struggle to push this through,” Realin said. “But at the same time, I don’t think the state of Florida is ready to have a bunch of first responders picketing and protesting.”

Florida is one of only a handful of states where workers compensation never covers PTSD for citizens. First responders with PTSD can get medical coverage, but not lost wages, unless they also have been hurt physically in an incident.

Gainesville Republican Keith Perry filed a similar bill that expands Florida’s current laws, but it doesn’t go as far as the new bill.

The changes come as lawmakers are looking to make cuts to the workers compensation program in the wake of big cost increases for businesses.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.