Firefighters fight for mental health help in Wisconsin

Posted at 8:54 AM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 23:35:41-05

Their duty to their family, their duty to their community may be the very thing keeping firefighters from seeking inpatient mental health treatment.

“There's so many first responders out there right now that aren't getting the help they need because they either can't afford it or they're afraid of what's going to happen." Jones said. "They're afraid of not having a paycheck, their families not being taken care of while they're trying to get help."

Brent Jones knows this well. In 2018 he went to a facility specially designed for firefighters to receive mental health treatment for PTSD, among other concerns.

"I should have gone immediately, but I took an extra two weeks so I could get my affairs in order," he said.

The I-Team was introduced to Jones in Madison where he was sharing his story with lawmakers to lobby for a bill that would cover PTSD under worker’s compensation for firefighters and police officers.

Current law only allows for worker’s compensation payments in the case of physical injury.

Jones believes the bill, AB569 and SB511, will allow more firefighters and police officers to access treatment quickly. Even quicker than he did when he needed it. And for mental injuries he said grow as a first responder goes on call after call, day after day.

AB569 was referred to the Committee on Rules at the end of January.

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