First responder bill 2 weeks away from possible hearing

Lawmakers want to be 'responsible' with taxpayers' money

ORLANDO, Fla. – State Rep. Mike Miller (District 47),  told News 6 Monday there is plenty of work ahead to craft a bill that would recognize PTSD as “compensable” under workers' comp laws.

“We’re moving the ball, let’s put it that way,” Miller said. “We want to be very good and very responsible on how we apply funds.”

Miller’s HB 1019, would address the workers' comp issue and recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as an injury.

It was filed last Thursday but hasn’t been referred to committee.

There are two versions of the bill on the Senate side, filed by state Sens. Victor Torres of Orlando and Keith Perry of Gainesville.

Sources told News 6 a compromise between the lawmakers may be needed before the banking subcommittee reviews a version of the proposed  legislation in two weeks.

The push for first responder legislation has been led by the Blue and Red Movement founded by Jessica Realin, wife of Pulse shooting first responder Gerry Realin.

Jessica told News 6 Monday that Pulse owner Barbara Poma signed the group’s petition and would “speak on behalf of the movement” to change the law. 

While the Blue and Red Movement continues to gather support, the Dark Side Project has collected dozens of video testimonials from firefighters struggling with PTSD.

Founder James Geering told News 6 the connection has helped a lot of men and women.

“The real impact I think is the interaction between people," Geering said.

As talk of the proposed legislation gained support, more first responders have gone public to share their stories.

Retired Orlando firefighter David Stern said PTSD made it impossible for him  to continue the job he loved.

“That hurts," he said. "I feel like I didn’t finish the race -- not that I didn’t try my hardest, but I couldn’t even finish.”

People interested in supporting the Blue and Red Movement can visit the petition here.

About the Author: