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Pulse First Responder With PTSD Gets Final Paycheck

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

An Orlando police officer with post-traumatic stress disorder from the Pulse nightclub shooting gets his last paycheck today.

Gerry Realin has been getting full pay since the shooting, but he’s been getting paid by the grace of the Orlando Police Department. The Interim Disability Committee was replenishing Realin’s paid time off each month.

In a letter, the city said it reached the maximum benefit under Orlando Police Department’s policy. Realin has a disability pension application in, but that committee hasn’t ruled on Realin’s application.

Jessica Realin said her husband isn’t doing well. While the family’s GoFundMe page has raised an extra $1,000 in the last week, Realin has been skipping doctor appointments.

“We had to cut back on his treatments because we can’t afford to pay the co-pays from workman’s comp,” Realin said. “So we’re having to balance that out, and that’s difficult in itself because those treatments do help my husband.”

Jessica Realin said she’s currently looking for a job.  In a statement, OPD said it’s committed to Realin’s recovery, and said the police department offered him numerous alternative jobs.

The City of Orlando has supported Officer Realin by insuring that he received full pay through the interim disability committee, whose ability to reimburse officers is limited by policies and procedures, and in Officer Realin’s case, those limits have been met. Officer Realin has also had – and continues to have – full access to and use of all of the City of Orlando’s resources through the Employee Assistance Program. We also took into account his doctor’s recommendations and made numerous, appropriate, alternative jobs available to Officer Realin, in areas throughout the City of Orlando. The Orlando Police Department remains committed to assisting Officer Realin in his continued recovery and we remain hopeful that he will be able to return to work. Police pensions are granted by an independent board, and that board will make the determination in this case.

A state bill to offer first responders workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD in Florida failed this year.

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.