Congressmen Guy Reschenthaler, David Trone Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Public Safety Officers Suffering from Job-Related Trauma
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and David Trone (D-MD) 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.
"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 Rep. 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."
“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 suicide,” said Rep. 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.”