Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) joined Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14), Congresswoman Shontel Brown (OH-11), and Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) in introducing the Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2023. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation aims to combat the rising rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst first responders and to address the long-term mental health consequences associated with PTSD. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced companion legislation and are leading the effort in the United States Senate. 

PTSD disproportionally affects first responders. According to the Institutes of Health, one in three first responders will develop PTSD compared to one in five Americans in the general population. When undiagnosed or left untreated, PTSD leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression, substance and alcohol abuse, and an increase in suicidal ideations. 

“Our first responders and law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Ross. “They often face dangerous and stressful situations while on the job, resulting in higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental illnesses than in the general population. This bipartisan bill ensures that our public servants who risk their lives for us have access to the life-saving resources and care they need to stay healthy and continue protecting communities in North Carolina and across the country.”

“When danger strikes, our first responders bravely show up without hesitation to handle any situation they are thrown into,” said Congressman Joyce. “Unfortunately, when our first responders are off the clock, the stress and pressures associated with their jobs often do not leave them. It is time Congress does more to help our dedicated emergency personnel and provide them with the resources they need to cope with their job's extreme pressures and help the countless emergency personnel suffering from PTSD. I thank my colleagues for joining me on this bicameral, bipartisan legislation and encourage other members to join us in this cause.” 

“It is long past time we addressed the impact protecting our communities often has on our public safety officers,” said Congresswoman Brown. “Police officers and first responders often suffer invisible wounds as they put their lives on the line and cope with traumatic situations while protecting our communities. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that our public safety officers have access to the mental health services they need to continue serving and protecting our neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio.”

“This bipartisan legislation will make vital mental health resources available to our law enforcement officers,” said Congressman Turner. “The men and women who wear the uniform risk their personal safety each day to keep our communities safe. It is our responsibility in return to ensure they have the resources needed to support them.”

To address this growing crisis, this bill directs the Attorney General to develop evidence-based programs that will be made available to public safety officers across our country to treat and address PTSD. In crafting these proposals, the Attorney General must engage and consult with local, state, and federal agencies that employ first responders and non-governmental organizations that advocate on their behalf. Once these proposals are drafted, they will be submitted to Congress for formal consideration.