Florida & Montana Program Helping First Responders with PTSD
When Jessie Holton suffered from PTSD after serving in the US Marine Corps following the 9-11 terror attacks, he says the VA saved his life. He got help. He got the treatment and the support he needed.
But when he went back to a a career in law enforcement following his military service, he noticed that his brothers and sisters in blue were bearing the same burdens of PTSD- but with no support or programs available. Worse yet, if a first responder admitted that they had PTSD- they'd get fired, with no benefits.
That's crazy, isn't it? That's what led Holton to help found an organization called T-6 which is now up and running in Florida and Montana. The program offers training events and retreats in the mountains of Montana and in Florida.
Holton now lives in Big Timber, Montana and told us more about the program and how important it is that we start getting these resources available to the men and women in law enforcement.
Holton: The last time we checked there's only four states in the country that have PTSD as an occupational injury for first responders. Now, there are some where say- you get shot in the line of duty and your physical injuries heal, but you have PTSD from that-they'll give you a treatment for that. But if you see a child death, you don't get any type of help, I mean there's mental health programs out there, but if you're diagnosed with PTSD, you can get determined what's called unfit for duty status. And then you have so many months to get over it, which we know PTSD is not curable, it's just manageable. If you don't get cured of your of your symptoms, then you're let go.
Holton says one example was the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida several years ago. Five officers who responded to the mass shooting developed PTSD and were subsequently let go by the department.
Holton: That was a horrific crime scene. Those five officers that arrived on scene they all went through that process diagnosed with PTSD, we could all understand why but then the processes were not there by government to take care of them.
In response, Holton worked closely with now-Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) of Florida to change the law so that first responders suffering from PTSD would be protected and covered.
Find out more about T-6 by visiting their website off-shift.com.
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