WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14), introduced the Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2023 with Congresswoman Shontel Brown (OH-11), Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) and Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02). The bipartisan, bicameral legislation aims to combat the rising rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst first responders and to address the long term mental health consequences associated with PTSD. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced companion legislation and are leading the effort in the United States Senate.
“When danger strikes, our first responders bravely show up without hesitation to handle any situation they are thrown into,” said Congressman Joyce. “Unfortunately, when our first responders are off the clock, the stress and pressures associated with their jobs often do not leave them. It is time Congress does more to help our dedicated emergency personnel and provide them with the resources they need to cope with their job’s extreme pressures and help the countless emergency personnel suffering from PTSD. I thank my colleagues for joining me on this bicameral, bipartisan legislation and encourage other members to join us in this cause.”
“It is long past time we addressed the impact protecting our communities often has on our public safety officers,” said Rep. Brown. “Police officers and first responders often suffer invisible wounds as they put their lives on the line and cope with traumatic situations while protecting our communities. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that our public safety officers have access to the mental health services they need to continue serving and protecting our neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio.”
“This bipartisan legislation will make vital mental health resources available to our law enforcement officers. The men and women who wear the uniform risk their personal safety each day to keep our communities safe. It is our responsibility in return to ensure they have the resources needed to support them,” said Congressman Turner
“Our first responders and law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Deborah Ross. “They often face dangerous and stressful situations while on the job, resulting in higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental illnesses than in the general population. This bipartisan bill ensures that our public servants who risk their lives for us have access to the life-saving resources and care they need to stay healthy and continue protecting communities in North Carolina and across the country.”
“On behalf of our over 1,800 members, the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association is honored to lend our support to the ‘Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2023’. Everyday brave men and women from across our nation put themselves on the frontline knowing that their chances of batting PTSD are greater than other professions. We must do whatever we can to treat, and hopefully prevent, PTSD from occurring. We are honored to work with our national leaders to advance this important initiative,” said Chief Colin Altman, Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association President.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder disproportionally affects first responders. According to the Institute of Health, one in three first responders will develop PTSD compared to one in five Americans within the general population. When undiagnosed or left untreated, PTSD leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression, substance and alcohol abuse, and an increase in suicidal ideations.
To address this growing crisis, this bill directs the Attorney General to develop evidence-based programs that will be made available to public safety officers across our country to treat and address PTSD. In crafting these proposals, the Attorney General must engage and consult with local, state, and federal agencies that employ first responders and non-governmental organizations that advocate on their behalf. Once these proposals are drafted, they will be submitted to Congress for formal consideration.