Blunt, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Help First Responders Cope with Stresses of Serving Communities in Moments of Crisis

April 11, 2022

WASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues in introducing legislation to help police, fire, emergency medical, and 911 personnel cope with the stresses of responding to crisis situations. The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022 would establish mental health programs for America’s first responders who often face long-term effects from providing life-saving services in moments of crisis.

“First responders face incredibly dangerous and stressful situations every day,” said Blunt. “As a mental health advocate and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I’m proud to introduce this legislation to establish mental health programs tailored to the unique needs of first responders. I urge all of my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill to ensure the men and women who risk their lives to save others are able to get the care they need.”

“In times of crisis, we count on first responders and dispatchers to deliver life-saving aid – often at their own exposure to tremendous risk,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa). “Beyond the physical scars, this essential service can also take a mental and emotional toll. This bill takes an essential step toward ensuring that the brave individuals who respond in critical situations have access to mental health services needed to manage stress, stay healthy and continue to serve our communities.”

Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and 911 dispatchers routinely encounter high-stress situations, putting them at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which increases the risk of suicide. The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act would require the Justice Department to establish evidence-based treatment programs for first responders across the country, similar to services available to military personnel who develop PTSD or acute stress disorders. The bill requires the Justice Department to consult with stakeholders, including public safety officer organizations, in developing the program, which would be available to serve first responders in communities of all sizes across the country.

The Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD.

In addition to Blunt and Grassley, the bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (Del.), Todd Young (Ind.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio).