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Wisconsin firefighters lobby for PTSD benefits

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MADISON (WKOW) -- More than 100 firefighters from across the state gathered in downtown Madison Wednesday to lobby support for a group of bills that would provide benefits for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The current law in Wisconsin only requires workers compensation for mental harm or emotional stress if an injured employee shows, “that it resulted from a situation of greater dimensions than the day-to-day mental stresses and tensions which all employees experience.”

Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) introduced a bill to change that by excluding first responders from the “greater dimensions” standard.

The Professional Firefighters Association of Wisconsin says the current law makes it nearly impossible for firefighters and other law enforcement officers to access workers compensation for treating PTSD.

"It shouldn't be the case that police officer and firefighters and others have to - once they're diagnosed with PTSD and they use up all their available sick time - have to make a decision between going back to work before they're well, and leaving the profession," said Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer.

Even though the bill is bipartisan and has overwhelming support, there is concern about the time-frame to pass it, as lawmakers plan to wrap up their legislative session within the next two months.

Emily Friese

27 News Producer

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