Florida first responders' PTSD bill passes Senate committee vote

Bill will extend benefits to cover PTSD treatment

(CNN; Steven Fernandez; Family photos; WESH; WKMG)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  A bill to extend first responders' workers compensation benefits to include treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder is moving through the Florida Senate.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 376 Tuesday after an hour of emotional testimony.

Megan Vila of Tampa told the committee her brother was being treated for PTSD for two months when he was told the treatment wasn't covered. The firefighter was forced to repay the salary he had been receiving. He later took his own life.

Leslie Dangerfield had a similar story. She said her husband was a firefighter who suffered from PTSD after repeatedly responding to deaths during his nearly three-decade career. He also took his own life.

And Jessica Realin talked about how her husband Gerry had to leave his job as an Orlando police officer because of PTSD following the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.

The legislation would provide "workers' compensation benefits for mental or nervous injuries regardless of whether such injuries are accompanied by physical injuries," according to the bill.