Where is the Line for PTSD Benefits?

PTSD kidOne day in December of 2012 a man went on a shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut and killed 20 children and 6 staff, in addition to his mother and ultimately himself.

Witnesses were obviously extremely distressed after the event and many found it hard to cope with returning to work at the school. There was a private foundation that asked for donations to assist those suffering from trauma after the event but it has only raised enough money to cover just a third of the claims. A bill was introduced to the Connecticut Legislature that would compensate public employees for PTSD treatments after witnessing violent events.

This past week the proposal was tabled at the end of legislation sessions, leaving it unresolved unless it is brought up next session. Many are upset about the hold-up but many say that it is a good decision and will give legislators time to really review the bill, as they say it was legislation “born out of a crisis” and maybe not really necessary.

The bill would allow people like teachers, EMTs and other first responders to file claims for mental health counseling, which would have to be directly connected to witnessing a traumatic event. Opponents of the bill say that there is no doubt that a witness should be allowed the proper time to heal, but they warn that this bill might draw frivolous claims and unnecessary costs.

The state relations manager to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Robert Labarana, said that “there is no doubt this bill would cost cities and towns money”

“When we send our first responders out to calls the state, local, or federal government should have their backs,” said Representative Stephen Dargan of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee.

There are similar rules in Massachusettes, Rhode Island and New York and while the Connecticut bill passed 18-5 in the Senate it still has to go through the House. In Connecticut the cost of WC insurance rose just over 7 percent in 2013 and many cite the length of time workers are staying out of work as one of the main factors in that increase.

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