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First Responders PTSD Measure Approved

First responders rescue flood-stranded people in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.
First responders rescue flood-stranded people in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a bill that will give law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders more time to file workers’ compensation insurance claims for post-traumatic stress disorder. Lawmakers unanimously passed the measure (HB 689) in March, and it will take effect July 1. The bill, in part, changes part of state law that sets deadlines for filing workers’ compensation notices and claims based on the “manifestation” of post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill moves from using the term “manifestation” to “diagnosis of the disorder,” which effectively will give first responders more time. As an example, first responders will have up to one year from the time of diagnosis to file claims. “Extending the claim deadline to one year after a PTSD diagnosis allows claims more than one year after a qualifying event,” a House staff analysis said. “Symptoms of PTSD may begin shortly after a traumatic event or may not appear until years after the event.” In a statement released Friday by the Florida Police Chiefs Association, House bill sponsor Mike Giallombardo, R-Cape Coral, said “first responders should not have to suffer through the stigma and debilitating conditions of PTSD and dig to find the courage to report and seek treatment, only to discover they were too late and don’t qualify for treatment. HB 689 helps address the growing crisis of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide in the ranks of law-enforcement officers by giving them more time to seek and receive potentially life-changing treatment."