Vt. responders first in U.S. to gain workers' comp for mental health
The historic legislation could pave the way for responders all over the country
By PoliceOne Staff
BURLINGTON, Vt. — Vermont responders will now be the first state in the U.S. to receive workers’ compensation for mental health issues.
VTDigger reported that the Professional Firefighters of Vermont and the Vermont Troopers Association said the extreme conditions in which they work take a toll on not only the body, but the mind as well.
“Our members will be able to access treatment that will keep our firefighters and paramedics on the street, and keep them healthy so they can continue to provide the essential emergency services Vermonters call for every day,” Professional Firefighters of Vermont president Bradley Reed said.
The bill overturns a Vermont Supreme Court ruling that prohibits responders from receiving workers’ compensation for mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Prior to the bill, workers’ compensation was only allowed for mental health if it was related to a physical injury.
After some concerns about the legislation, Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law. It went into effect on July 1.
"While the governor and his administration raised concerns about potential unintended impacts to workers’ compensation insurance in Vermont, he trusts the Legislature fully evaluated the effects of this new policy and ultimately signed it in support of the effort to protect our first responders,” the govenor's spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said in a statement.