The Ohio House passed a bill Wednesday that allows peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers who received post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their jobs to be eligible for workers compensation and benefits.
First Responders PTSD Benefits Bill, House Bill 308, will change the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation policy to be based on the mental health condition. In the past, people needed to have a physical injury along with their PTSD to get compensation.
In addition, people who qualify for this proposed compensation will not receive disability benefits from Ohio’s retirement system.
After the bill passed, law enforcement officers and other emergency personal were seen “wiping tears from their eyes,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who proposed HB 308, said talking to first responders inspired him to introduce this bill.
“I’ve had discussions with many police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers about this issue since I started working on this around eight years ago,” he said. “Based off their personal experiences and viewpoints of their respective organizations, it’s definitely an issue I believe is absolutely necessary.”
The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, who testified in favor of the bill, said mental health is “vitally important” and is often “overlooked and underfunded.”
“This vote moves the issue forward and provides important support for first responders,” State Lodge President Gary Wolske said in a statement.
Other first responder organizations who supported this bill included Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, Ohio State Medical Association and Columbus Fire Fighters IAFF Local 67.
PTSD has long been an issue for first responders. A study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information said between 15 and 30 percent of first responders suffer from PTSD.
“Our brave first responders deserve to have PTSD illnesses treated under our law, even though the law does consider them comparable to a physical injury,” Patton said. “Making this change will ensure the much-needed relief for first responders who have served the public and suffer from PTSD as a result of performing their duties.”
HB 308 now heads to the Ohio state Senate.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]