State lawmakers pushing for more PTSD treatment for first responders

Growing Crisis: mental stress for first responders
Posted at 7:37 PM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 19:37:31-05

Stephen LaDue loved to fish and spend time with his family. When he was happy, everything seemed just fine. But then on September 5, he took his own life.

"Once he retired and he lost thrust brotherhood it really put my brother into a deeper depression," LaDue's sister Megan Vila recalls.

Megan remembers her brother as the strong, seemingly invincible 29-year veteran of the Tampa Fire Department. What she didn't know was that underneath his smile and his brave face was a man, a father of three kids, who was haunted by the pain of seeing tragedies involving children during his time on the job.

Megan is now on a mission to  expand benefits for first responders in Florida who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Currently the state does not cover treatment for PTSD unless the first respodner was physically injured.

Jim Diamond is a 34-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department.

"You see one horrible incident on Monday chances are by Friday your going to see another. And your going to do that for 20 to 25 years," says Diamond. 

A huge endorsement came down for this bill on Monday. Florida's chief financial officer and the state fire marshal both announced their push for more mental health benefits for Florida's first responders.