Categories: Featured News, Americas

Tennessee passes Bill creating PTSD presumption for firefighters


Share this content


Tennessee has taken a major step towards supporting its fire fighters by unanimously passing legislation to create a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumption for them. The James “Dustin” Samples Act, named in memory of a brave firefighter who succumbed to PTSD after years of battling the disease, has been championed by the Tennessee Professional Fire Fighters Association (TPFFA).

Thanks to the tireless lobbying efforts of the TPFFA, the bill has now passed both the Tennessee House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Bill Lee. The act seeks to honor the legacy of Samples, who devoted 22 years to his profession and bravely fought PTSD for many years.

“Our members are exposed to trauma on a daily basis, putting them at significant risk for developing PTSD and other behavioral health concerns,” said TPFFA President Matthew Tomek. “This legislation will enable us to honor Brother Samples’ memory and allow our members to get the help they need early. We are grateful to all our friends in the General Assembly for supporting this bill.”

The new presumption will enable fire fighters to access workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD under certain stipulations. The disorder must be diagnosed by a mental health professional, and must be the result of a direct witness to the death of a minor, an individual whose death involved serious bodily injury, or responding to an event where there was a victim with a serious bodily injury or a responder, co-worker, or family member of a responder who sustained a serious bodily injury or died.

The act not only presumes PTSD as a work-related injury for fire fighters, but also establishes a grant program to help employers cover the cost of workers’ compensation claims. Employers will need to provide mental health resiliency training as part of their regular education program to qualify for the grant.

The James “Dustin” Samples Act will take effect on January 1, 2024. Tennessee has taken a significant step in supporting its fire fighters and acknowledging the inherent risks and trauma that come with their profession. The TPFFA is proud to have championed this legislation and will continue to fight for the health and safety of its members.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox