Starting August 1st, PTSD will be added to the list of covered injuries under public employee benefits, which will allow policemen, firefighters and first responders to seek coverage for that illness under Louisiana workers’ compensation. Bossier City Senator Ryan Gatti wrote the law and says many first responders suffer from this illness and they are not getting the treatment they need.
“They see things that people should never see and they have to battle, and they have to hire a lawyer to get treatment for things that are really obvious.”
How many first responders suffer from PTSD?
The National Alliance for Mental Health estimates 3.5 percent of US adults suffer from PTSD and that percentage is even higher for first responders.
Gatti says the old policy was a relic from a time when the importance of mental health wasn’t fully appreciated.
“Historically like in WW2, they passed out cartons of cigarettes just to calm them down, but today we need our first responders to be in tip top shape, so we can’t tell them to just suck it up.”
The Senator added he was shocked during the legislative process because they were still some who said, “what if these guys are faking it?” and asked if there were other ways people could cope with PTSD.
Gatti says if you are a first responder suffering from PTSD, take action and talk to your higher ups because the earlier you start seeking treatment, the better your outcomes…
“Go to your boss and say look, I need help. Those folks are trained to point you in the right direction. Then you go to your doctor and if the doctor says you need treatment, you can get that treatment immediately.”
Studies indicate there have been more PTSD linked suicides among first responders in recent years than there have been deaths in the line of duty.