Thanks to a focused lobbying effort, the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters (TSAFF) successfully passed legislation to improve workers’ compensation coverage for Texas first responders diagnosed with line-of-duty-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Our members see trauma every day on the job,” says 11th District Vice President Sandy McGhee. “Over time, those experiences can have a cumulative effect and become difficult to process. I am proud of the hard work by our Texas affiliates to give our members across the state access to treatment when they need it.”
TSAFF President John Riddle says the success was a unified effort.
“Members throughout the state reached out to lawmakers to educate them on the importance of this legislation,” Riddle says. “Recent independent studies have shown post-traumatic stress rates are on the rise for Texas fire fighters. This law gives us a way to do something about it.”
The push to pass presumptive protections for members experiencing post-traumatic stress began after TSAFF delegates passed a resolution at its 2016 Convention to make it a priority.
State Representative John Wray (R) was quick to understand the importance of the issue and agreed to file legislation (HB 1983) calling for state workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD “caused by an event occurring in the course and scope of their employment.”
Representative Wray worked with TSAFF leaders to champion the bill, earning enough support for its passage and moving it onto the Senate where the legislation was sponsored by Senator John Whitmire (D).
Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill on June 1, effective as of September 1, 2017.