Jessica Realin understands how PTSD can destroy a first responder. Her husband, Gerry, an Orlando police officer, pulled the dead out of the Pulse nightclub June 12.
She told News 6 he has never been the same.
“These first responders, when they get these calls, they don’t know what they’re getting into,” she said.
Realin has turned her husband’s pain into a mission to change the existing first responder law, gathering support for change she and her husband call the Blue and Red Movement.
They quickly learned that under the state’s existing law a firefighter, police officer, or EMT diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder is not eligible for lost wages unless a physical injury accompanies the diagnosis.
“Instead of them being able to focus on the treatment, they have to focus on fighting the system to get treatment,” she said.
The bold, vibrant logo unveiled to News 6 Monday was designed by Gerry Realin, who is considering a trip to Tallahassee to personally explain the side effects of PTSD to lawmakers.
Veteran attorney Geoff Bichler said the change in the law is badly needed. Bichler’s firm represents first responders.
“It’s completely debilitating and it's something that our workers comp system is behind in the times recognizing,” he said.
State Rep. Victor Torres of Kissimmee is a former New York transit cop and detective. He said PTSD is real and needs to be addressed.
“They’re not asking for much. What’s fair is fair," he said. "What we have to have is this governor make sure when (the law) comes before him he signs it into law.”
The Blue and Red stickers will be available soon for purchase.
For more information, go to the Instagram account @BlueandRedMovement or email BlueandRedMovement@gmail.com.