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Hassan, Colleagues Re-Introduce Bill to Help First Responders Cope with Stresses of Serving Communities in Moments of Crisis

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), re-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 2023 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.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The bill unanimously passed in the Senate last congress, but stalled in the House of Representatives.

“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 the co-Chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I have heard from officers from Delaware and across the country about the need for more programs to help address trauma in the line of duty that gets overlooked far too often in our first responders. This bipartisan bill will bring us closer to ensuring that those who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities have needed resources and care for their own mental health as well,” 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 put their lives on the line each day, facing stressful and often dangerous 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.

“First responders risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe, putting themselves in the middle of stressful situations that could affect them for the rest of their lives. We must ensure they receive the care and resources they need to cope with the traumatic situations they encounter every day on the job,” Hawley said.

“Law enforcement officers and first responders bravely serve our communities, yet too often they face traumatic incidents as they work to keep people safe – which can lead to PTSD and other mental health challenges. This bipartisan legislation would improve the mental health resources for those who work in public safety, and it would help them address job-related trauma. This bipartisan bill is an important way to support those who protect our communities, and I will continue working to build support for it,” Hassan said.

“America’s first responders deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our support. The Fighting PTSD Act would equip first responders with the resources they need to care for their own health while they serve Louisiana communities,” Kennedy said.

“Our first responders work tirelessly in high-risk situations every day to keep our communities healthy and safe. This bipartisan legislation is a critical step toward ensuring the brave public safety officers suffering from job-related PTSD have access to the care and resources they deserve,” Blackburn said.

“This measure will help expand critical mental health services for our heroic first responders. The stresses and trauma first responders face every day stays with them whether they’re on or off the clock – highlighting the need for evidence-based and trauma-informed care and support. The Fighting PTSD Act is an important initial investment in the wellbeing of those answering the calls for help and keeping our communities safe,” Blumenthal 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.

Text of the Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act is available HERE.