The House Labor Committee advances a Senate-approved bill to address PTSD and mental health among firefighters and police, adding the mental illness to the list of injuries eligible for public employee benefits.  One Madison Parish firefighter testified saying he has suffered from depression since 2014, adding he had suicidal thoughts while on leave for PTSD related to his job.

“Going through this at the time I was on 17 different medications trying to suppress what was going on,” said the firefighter.

The discussion highlighted the detrimental effects of not treating PTSD including substance abuse and marital issues.

The firefighter continued, saying his PTSD was not caught early and now is disabling.

“I’m stuck with it for the rest of my life.  If it wasn’t for me working for the state and me having state insurance, my medication would be over $3000 a month just to keep me alive,” said the firefighter.

A Jefferson Parish firefighter also spoke in the discussion, saying he also did not catch the symptoms early enough, even going as far to say the activity among lawmakers were triggering flashbacks.

“Even being here today, hearing the zippers of briefcases in this room has raised my anxiety.  It causes flashbacks of body bags,” said the Jefferson Parish firefighter.