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Armstrong Bill To Support Firefighters With PTSD Passes House Health And Human Services Committee

on February 17, 2019 - 11:10am

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

 

STATE News:

  • Bill declares PTSD a disease that may result from firefighter duties


HB 324, Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s legislation to establish Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disease that—when diagnosed in a firefighter without previous health issues—can be presumed to have been caused by the firefighter’s service, Wednesday unanimously passed the House Health and Human Services Committee.

 

“Yes, our firefighters are heroes, but they are also human,” Armstrong said. “We ask so much of them—from running into burning buildings to pulling victims out of mangled cars. It’s time we let firefighters know that we understand the intensity of the work they do and the consequences it can have on their mental health.”

 

HB 324, cosponsored by Rep. Melanie Stansbury, simply amends existing New Mexico law to expand the definition of “Firefighter Occupational Diseases” to include PTSD. In 2017, identical legislation passed the House and Senate, but was pocket vetoed by then-Gov. Susan Martinez.

 

“This shouldn’t be a political issue,” Armstrong said. “Firefighters risk their lives every day, and they take that risk to keep all of us safe. Whether it’s the result of one truly devastating event or the cumulative impact of being on the scene for many horrific tragedies, firefighters can develop PTSD, and they need to be able to seek treatment. I look forward to this measure finally being signed into law this year.”

 

The bill now heads to the House Labor, Veterans' And Military Affairs Committee for consideration.  

About Rep. Debbie Armstrong:

Armstrong, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Armstrong is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley. Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.


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