Congressmen David Trone, Guy Reschenthaler Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support First Responders Suffering from Job-Related Trauma

Share

July 9, 2020
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov 

 

Congressmen David Trone, Guy Reschenthaler Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support First Responders Suffering from Job-Related Trauma

 

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) introduced the bipartisan Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2020. The legislation would expand the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to include coverage for public safety officers who die as a result of suicide or are disabled as a result of traumatic experiences. Currently, the PSOB provides disability relief to families of officers who died or who have been permanently disabled as a result of a physical injury. 

The work of public safety officers - firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians - places them at an increased risk for developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite this added risk, they often do not have access to necessary mental health resources, leaving them at a higher risk for suicide.

The bill creates an avenue for officers to seek disability benefits for PTSD linked to severe trauma and allows the families of officers that are lost to trauma-linked suicide to apply for death benefits. It follows Reps. Trone and Reschenthaler’s introduction of the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act, introduced in May to provide confidentiality for first responders seeking mental health care.

“First responders can experience more trauma in one day than many of us will experience in our lifetimes. This takes a significant toll on the officers and sometimes leads to disability or even suicide,” said Congressman David Trone. “We need to make sure the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits program is there not only for those suffering from physical injuries, but those suffering from mental injuries as well. I want to thank Congressman Reschenthaler for working together with me on this important legislation.”

"Our first responders put themselves at risk every day to protect our communities, and this taxing work often results in invisible wounds that make officers more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty, " said Congressman Reschenthaler. "The Public Safety Officer Support Act will ensure we address both the physical and mental health of law enforcement by expanding eligibility to provide first responders and their families with mental health services and assistance. I am proud to join Congressman Trone to support the brave Americans who put their lives on the line for the wellbeing of our nation."

This bill comes following the suicide of Montgomery County Police Officer Thomas “T.J.” Bomba in October of 2019. After his death, Congressman Trone held a roundtable on mental health for first responders moderated by the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Dr. Joshua Gordon. The meeting touched on the stigma surrounding access to mental health resources among the first responder community.

 

Police Officer's Event

Congressman Trone’s First Responders Mental Health Roundtable, November 2019

 

You can read more about the legislation here.

You can read the entire bill text here.

 

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.

###